Most patients with chronic complaints, describe feelings or sensations in the body of generalized anxiety.
Whether their list of complaints include things like insomnia, hot flashes, tingling in their extremities, irritable bowel. Or, more specifically, chronic back pain, an inability to move past an injury, or issues in a relationship, the one thing in common is an associated underlying anxiety.
Anxiety in it’s pure form and in it’s disguises, can be quite crippling. So much energy is expended trying to “move past’ or “deal” with the sensations, it often leaves the person physically and emotionally depleted and, often with a sense of isolation.
In the long term, pharmaceuticals for anxiety (anxiolytics), actually increase anxiety and are therefore, counterproductive.
The withdrawal from anxiolytics (typically, benzodiazapenes or benzos), is particularly difficult for most and must be handled with extreme care and caution. I taper my patients very slowly and follow them carefully.
Research has shown, those 65 or over are at a 50% greater risk of developing dementia is they have been chronic users of benzos.
If you follow my blog posts, you know I often write about the autonomic nervous system (ans) and how it plays a part in our sense of “well being” as well as our physiological reactions.
It is important to realize how our physiology affects our autonomic system and how lifestyle choices could be worsening anxiety by having an adverse effect on the ANS. Consider hypoglycemia; this is a situation in which the body’s blood glucose levels fall precipitously.
The function of epinephrine is to convert sugar stores in our body in the form of glycogen, into glucose. Epinephrine also causes an increase in heart rate, breathing rate as well as many other changes involving, the bowel, bladder, muscle tone, etc.
Therefore, a sudden release of epinephrine when not working out or running from danger, can leave one feeling anxious, panicked or uncomfortable in their own skin.
Most physician’s assume chronic anxiety and or panic attacks are emotionally driven. This is not necessarily true. I have yet to have a patient enter my Chicago area office without their head, or have a head show up without their body. Our physiology contributes to our psychology and vice-versa.
I have treated many a patient, over the years, who have presented with either anxiety, panic attacks or anger outbursts, all of which were attributable to precipitous swings in their blood sugar levels. Even seizures and migraines can be triggered from quick spikes in blood glucose levels.
Unfortunately, many patients come to me as their last resort and arrive on a cornucopia of pharmaceuticals in order to alleviate their symptoms. A large minority of patients are on some form of anxiolytics, even if only for sleep.
I taper my patients off their medications and they are the better for it. It is good to be weary of physicians eager to prescribe chronic medications or psychiatric medications such as medications for sleep or anxiety. While this has been a common practice, it is not a good one.
I screen all my patients using a lipid subfraction, to evaluate insulin resistance which is the primary cause of spikes in glucose levels. I also utilize SCENAR treatments, specifically, the activation method, in order to reduce excessive sympathetic tone.
The combination of reducing excessive sympathetic tone along with dietary changes to reverse insulin resistance, seems to be extremely helpful in combating anxiety as well as some of the associated symptoms seen in many patients.