Anxiety and Naturopathic Practice - Anxiety as a Stress Allergy
One of the most common conditions that I treat in practice is chronic anxiety. What has become clear to me in my own life and in the lives of my patients is that there is no positive aspect to anxiety. Anxiety does not add anything to the mental, emotional or physical being of a person.
Let me make a comparison between the immune systems and allergies and the nervous system and anxiety. In an allergy an over active immune system creates an assault on a harmless pollen grain. This create an inflammatory reaction that is damaging mentally, emotionally and physically.
Anyone with allergies can confirm the disturbing the symptoms of an allergic reaction. Even if we are able to purify our environment and get rid of the pollen, we have still not solved the immune system imbalance that created the problem.
In anxiety an over active nervous system over reacts to a stimulant. The stimulation can be something we see, something we hear, or something we think. Trying to get rid of these triggers is like trying to eliminate pollen from the air. Even if succeed in avoiding challenges and minimize our stresses we still are left with an imbalanced immune system.
The types of reactions in the body are called “threshold reactions.” Our body to not create a strong reflex just because someone puts a hand on our shoulder. It may not create any reaction. If we were to get hit in the shoulder we would have a reaction. As anyone who has taken a knee reflex can tell you, there is often a sharp line between a reflex and no reflex. The immune system and nervous system have threshold settings also. The correct immune reaction to pollen is NO reaction. The same it true for the anxiety. The healthy reaction to a piece of mail, a phone call, a new story is NO anxiety.
Anxiety has no place in a healthy nervous systems just like allergies have no role in a healthy immune system. There are some emotional states that are natural and healthy. We can have calm states, happy states, reflective states, aware states and acute fear states. Healthy acute fear lasts is defined by a period of fear lasting less than one minute. Any state of fear in response to a situation other than a life threatening situation requiring an immediate release of adrenaline is an stress allergy.
I know the sensations of chronic anxiety. With my diagnosis of ulcerative colitis there was a lot of inflammation in my body. That inflammation affected my nervous system and lowered the anxiety threshold. I honestly don’t ever remember feeling any anxiety before I was sick. That means no test anxiety as a kid and no performance anxiety during sports. I never felt afraid to ask someone to go out on a date. As I look at things that create anxiety for kids I didn’t have any of them.
I went from this state to a place after being ill for a few years where every phone call, every envelope, and almost every interaction would create anxiety. It was a state of chronic inflammation and chronic nervous system pain. The problem with brain symptoms is that the same brain we would use to solve our problems is the same brain that is not working right. There were days that I could not think my way out of a paper bag. Now we are learning why inflammation impairs thinking.
If these were physical symptom, such as knee pain then we wouldn’t hesitate to address the problem. Yet because the symptom of anxiety is considered a weakness we often don’t address it for the problem that it is. I know that this was true for me. Even after I resolved the physical symptoms of my case the mental and emotional imbalances that had been created continued to exist.
There is no longer any reason to live with these symptoms and the imbalances that they reflect. There is amazing and sensitive testing done through urine samples that can measure the exact balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are the on and off signals for our brain. If we can see which neurotransmitters are out of balance then we can use natural medicines that increase or decrease neurotransmitters.
How are you going to make choices that create the experiences in life you want if you can’t see your hand in front of you. Chronic anxiety is like a fog that robs us not only of how to get what we want but what we even want in the first place. If you or a loved one, even kids, are showing signs of anxiety then the time to treat is now. I wasted many days in that fog and I would like to let anyone in similar situations know that they don’t have to.