by Dr. Shelby Worts, BSc, ND 

Anxiety can present in many ways—not just as a panic attack. It can be experienced as difficulty concentrating or making decisions, trouble sleeping, feeling restless or irritable, a trembling sensation, or even a sense of impending doom. According to a survey from February 2023, an estimated 14% of Canadians are experiencing anxiety. You are not alone. 

To better understand what may be contributing to your symptoms, begin by tracking when you experience them—time of day, week, month, or season. Do you notice whether being around others impacts how you feel? How about the impact of certain foods or the consumption of alcohol? How long ago did the symptoms start? These details will be helpful when exploring the cause of your anxiety, and to create a plan for correcting it. 

Did you know anxiety can be a sign of nutritional and/or hormonal imbalances? Being deficient in iron or having low progesterone are two examples of underlying causes of the symptoms. Blood tests that can be helpful to consider include iron, vitamins B12 and D, blood sugar, thyroid and sex hormones. 

Addressing deficiencies and imbalances is crucial for mental health support, alongside improving sleep quality and managing stress. An optimal sleep cycle runs from 10 pm to 6 am. Difficulties with falling asleep or staying asleep, particularly due to an overactive mind, can indicate and exacerbate anxiety. Practicing deep breathing techniques, as discussed in my previous article on stress, can be beneficial for those struggling with sleep issues. 

Although people don’t often like to hear it, coffee can contribute to the symptoms listed above. If you have tried everything else and are still feeling unsettled, it may be time to let go of the java. A one-week test is typically long enough to determine if it makes a difference—then you can decide whether or not to continue. 

Mindful meditation is effective in easing anxiety symptoms across all age groups. For beginners, consider enrolling in a class, exploring YouTube for sessions that match your preferred voice, journey, and length, or using an app like Headspace. Incorporating meditation into your daily routine can significantly enhance your sense of peace. 

Supplements that may be helpful include*: magnesium, GABA, glycine, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), L-theanine, kava kava, lemon balm, passion flower. 

Speaking to a registered psychotherapist is advised for all levels of anxiety—from mild to severe. If your symptoms are greatly impacting your quality of life, also speak to your MD about medication. 

To fully explore the contributing factors to your symptoms (including ordering blood tests) and to create a plan to help you feel better, speak with your naturopathic doctor. 

*These are general suggestions and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Discuss this with your qualified healthcare practitioner, especially if you are pregnant, taking medications or dealing with a chronic disease. E