Everybody knows what it's like to feel anxious – the butterflies in your stomach before a first date, the tension you feel when your boss is angry, the way your heart pounds if you're in danger. Anxiety rouses you to action. It gears you up to face a threatening situation. It makes you study harder for that exam, and keeps you on your toes when you're making a speech. In general, it helps you cope.
But if you have an anxiety disorder, this normally helpful emotion can do just the opposite – it can keep you from coping and can disrupt your daily life. Anxiety disorders aren't just a case of "nerves." They are illnesses, often related to the biological makeup and life experiences of the individual, and they frequently run in families. There are several types of anxiety disorders, each with its own distinct features.
An anxiety disorder may make you feel anxious most of the time, without any apparent reason. Or the anxious feelings may be so uncomfortable that to avoid them you may stop some everyday activities. Or you may have occasional bouts of anxiety so intense they terrify and immobilize you.
Anxiety disorders are the most common of all the mental disorders. At the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the Federal agency that conducts and supports research related to mental disorders, mental health, and the brain, scientists are learning more and more about the nature of anxiety disorders, their causes, and how to alleviate them. NIMH also conducts educational outreach activities about anxiety disorders and other mental illnesses.
Many people misunderstand these disorders and think individuals should be able to overcome the symptoms by sheer willpower. Wishing the symptoms away does not work – but there are treatments that can help. That's why NIMH has produced this pamphlet – to help you understand these conditions, describe their treatments, and explain the role of research in conquering anxiety and other mental disorders.
This brochure gives brief explanations of generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder (which is sometimes accompanied by agoraphobia), specific phobias, social phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. More detailed information on some of these anxiety disorders is available through NIMH or other sources.
The B vitamins are important for the nervous system. They have been found to stabilize the body's lactate levels, which are responsible for anxiety attacks.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is particularly important. It is a known energizer that also exerts a calming effect.
Vitamin B-1 (thiamine) helps reduce anxiety and has a calming effect on the nerves.
Niacinamide (a form of Vitamin B-3) is important in the production of certain brain chemicals. In large doses, it has a calming effect.
Include pyridoxal-5-phosphate (P-5-P) if you lack the enzymes to convert vitamin B6 to its active form.
Calcium and magnesium are important to prevent nervous tension. They relax a tense and overwrought nervous system. Calcium is a natural tranquilizer. Magnesium helps relieve anxiety, tension, nervousness, muscular spasms, and ties. Take magnesium in combination with calcium. Take them before bed to improve sleep. Alcohol robs the body of magnesium, causing nervousness and irritability.
Vitamin C is necessary for proper functioning of adrenal glands and brain chemistry. In large doses, it can have a powerful tranquilizing effect and is known to decrease anxiety. Take the variety with bioflavonoids. It is very important for dealing with stress. (Consult a physician before you start any mega vitamin therapy.)
Potassium is essential for proper functioning of the adrenal glands.
Low levels of selenium have been found in people with anxiety disorder. It is a powerful antioxidant that protects the heart.
S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe) is an important physiological agent involved in over 40 biochemical reactions in the body. Is a natural anti-depressant and has a calming effect.
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) - This amino acid reportedly helps in anxiety.
Vitamin E helps transport oxygen to brain cells and protect them from free radical damage.
Zinc has a calming effect on the central nervous system.
Recommended Daily Dosages
Vitamin B complex, 50 mg one to three times daily
P-5-P, 100 mg
Extra vitamin B-1 (thiamine) - 50 mg 3 times daily, with meals.
Vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) - 50 mg 3 times daily.
Vitamin C with Bioflavonoids - 5,000-10,000 mg daily, in divided doses.
Vitamin E - 400 IU or as directed in the label. Use d-alpha-tocopherol form.
Calcium - 2,000 mg daily
Magnesium - 500-1,000 mg daily
Potassium - 99 mg daily
- 100-200 mcg daily
Caution: If you are pregnant, do not exceed 40 mcg daily.
Zinc - 50-80 mg daily. Do not exceed a total of 100 mg daily from all supplements.
S-Adenosylmethionine (SAMe) - 400 mg twice
Caution: Do not use if you have manic-depressive disorder or take prescription anti-depressants.
GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid)- 750 milligrams three times a day after meals.
Disclaimer: This information is intended as a guide only. This information is offered to you with the understanding that it not be interpreted as medical or professional advice. All medical information needs to be carefully reviewed with your health care provider.
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