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What Causes Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety and Depression

Q. Hi Cynthia, I read your post on anxiety and I felt like you were writing my life. I have been dealing with this for about 8 years, and am on disability because of it. I have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease, Hypoglycemia, and PCOS. I have taken herbs and supplements for this 8 years, and some of the time I have taken anti-anxiety meds, and SSRI’s,etc. None of them have helped. Even the way you explain how you have to eat, sounds like me. I have to have meat, the cheese and things don’t quite work. But, how do I know I don’t just have plain old “anxiety disorder”. I have acquired a lot of phobias because I have had anxiety attacks in almost every situation. Also, I feel bad all day, just about every day. Doctors tell me it’s just GAD. How do I know? I used to feel better, and of course I did better-not the other way around…I don’t know if you had trouble driving, etc., but I do, and if so, how did you get over that? I am now working on adrenal support, and finding if I have more food intolerances. Doctors are also doing test for MVP. Through all of this I have never given up trying to get better, but I feel I am running out of options. Any ideas on what to do next?
Thank you! Melissa

A. Hi Melissa,

There’s really no such thing as just “plain old” anxiety disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder is a label that was created to define a set of symptoms that at the time practitioners couldn’t explain. However, we now know there are many explanations.

Unfortunately, most traditional mental health and general health providers have not moved forward with the times. Anxiety medication is extremely profitable and the pharmaceutical companies work hard to make sure health care providers keep using their products instead of fixing the real problem.

Yes, we can and do experience anxiety in response to emotional situations, but this type of anxiety passes when the situation is over. Anxiety that comes out of nowhere and is experienced ongoing with no apparent reason, has many reasons, but they are physiological, not psychological.

If anxiety is being experienced there is an underlying cause. The primary cause is a disruption of neurotransmitters in the brain that control our emotions and behavior. However, that disruption to neurotransmitters itself has many underlying causes. It’s usually a combination of many possibilities which may include

  • candida overgrowth
  • sugar
  • caffeine
  • nicotine
  • alcohol
  • carbohydrates
  • insulin resistance
  • adrenal fatigue
  • environmental toxins
  • hypoglycemia
  • hormone imbalances
  • food sensitivities or allergies
  • hypothyroidism
  • childhood abuse or other trauma
  • excessive stress
  • nutritional deficiencies
  • mold sensitivity
  • overactive sympathetic nervous system (which is caused by all the above)

Each of the situations listed above disrupts the neurotransmitters in the brain. Everyone who has generalized anxiety disorder has one or more of these conditions. It’s not uncommon to have them all because they each perpetuate and aggravate one another

The thing to keep in mind is that even those in the mental health field acknowledge that “generalized anxiety disorder” occurs because of some type of malfunction in neurotransmitters in the brain. However, what they fail to recognize is that the neurotransmitters can be restored to balance by addressing each of the issues I’ve listed above.

Worry, phobias, depression and all the other psychological symptoms associated with anxiety do not cause the anxiety. They, too, are the result of disrupted or depleted neurotransmitters in the brain.

The reason you have to eat meat is because animal protein and fat is needed to keep blood sugar stable and produce hormones and neurotransmitters. You have been fortunate enough to hear the wisdom of your body.

You mention reading one of my posts, I’m not sure which one you are referring to, as I have written on this topic many times. Here are links to many pages on the anxiety topic that I’ve written and other related topics that you should read.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Physiological Causes of Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety and Candida

Anxiety and Yeast

Causes of Anxiety Attacks

Sugar Addiction

Insulin Resistance

Paleolithic Diet

Good Carbs Bad Carbs

12 Reasons to Eat More Meat

Effects of Child Abuse

Caffeine

Hypothyroidism

Hypoglycemia

Adrenal Fatigue

Neurotransmitters

Environmental Toxins

Deep Breathing Exercises

Yes, I did have trouble driving. I got over it, the same way I got over all the other symptoms associated with anxiety attacks. I stopped eating sugar, fruit juices, white flour, yeast, wheat, food additives, preservatives, artificial sweeteners, drinking caffeine and smoking cigarettes. I was certain to eat 3 meals a day with animal protein. I started eating organic. I avoided environmental toxins like pesticides and herbicides. I stopped wearing perfume, cosmetics, hair spray and other personal care products with chemicals. I began using baking soda and peroxide for my cleaning products instead of chemicals. I practiced a variety of stress reduction techniques like deep breathing exercises, meditation and regular exercise. I took antifungals and probiotics, did enemas and colonics for Candida and took thyroid extract.

At the time I began my recovery I was not aware that targeted amino acid therapy could also help this process, so that wasn’t something I used, but this method is used widely now by alternative health practitioners and can help restore balance to the neurotransmitters a lot quicker and help one be more committed to making the necessary changes in diet and lifestyle.

Amino acids are the building blocks for neurotransmitters and much of the population is not obtaining enough amino acids through their diet. I offer a simple neurotransmitter screening that costs nothing beyond the cost of the phone consult, if you’d like to learn more.  I also teach you how to identify your nutritional deficiencies,  which are typically part of the puzzle, through functional medicine testing. However amino acid therapy and other nutritional supplements still needs to be accompanied by significant changes in the diet and all the other contributing factors must still be addressed.

I encourage you to take at look at my book, What Your Psychologist Hasn’t Told You About Anxiety and Depression, for more in depth information on all the topics I’ve mentioned here.

Other helpful books would be, Depression Free Naturally – 7 Weeks to Eliminating Anxiety, Despair, Fatigue, and Anger from Your Life, by Joan Mathews Larson, as well as, The Missing Diagnosis, by Dr. Orion Truss and Nutrition and Mental Illness: An Orthomolecular Approach to Balancing Body Chemistry by Carl Pfeiffer.

It takes time to work through all the contributing factors. In my experience, Diet, is the most important issue. Primarily sugar, all grains, including whole grains and anything starchy, fruit juices and dried fruit. I had instant relief with the removal of sugar alone. Second most important is environmental toxins and I’m talking about common chemicals found in your every day products. Deep breathing exercises are very helpful as long as they are done in conjunction with diet and avoidance of environmental toxins. You’re on the right track, just keep working through the list and look into the amino acid therapy and the Candida aspect.

Best Regards,
Cynthia

{ 5 comments… add one }

  • :o) mg October 24, 2010, 9:41 pm

    For what it’s worth, in the 90’s, when “fat free” dieting was all the rage (ie overabundance of carbs) I constantly battled panic attacks.

  • Melissa October 26, 2010, 8:35 am

    Thank you Cynthia. I think the article I was referring to was the one on Hypoglycemia. I am now noticing I don’t sleep and my mind races……just keeps getting better!!!

  • Admin - Cynthia Perkins October 27, 2010, 1:57 pm

    You’re welcome Melissa. Mind racing and inability to sleep are just more symptoms of all the conditions listed above – disrupted neurotransmitters, depleted or overstimulated adrenal glands, food sensitivity, etc. etc. Here’s a page on sleep you’ll want to take a look at

    http://www.holistichelp.net/sleep.html
    Best
    Cynthia

  • Angie December 4, 2013, 12:10 am

    Hi. I completely agree with everyone you say. But here is the problem. I can’t seem to deal with the anxiety that I feel when I don’t eat the sugar, grains, etc…. I feel so anxious without them that I can’t even make it one day. And yet, I know that if I can get off of the sugar the anxiety will go. I have tried Julia Ross’s amino acid program and that did not help me enough. I don’t know how to stick to the candida cleanse because of the anxiety. Any thoughts on this? Thanks……

  • Admin - Cynthia Perkins February 7, 2014, 9:10 pm

    Hi Angie,

    I apologize for the delay in responding to this. I was looking through old posts and discovered I had overlooked it.

    Unfortunately, there is no easy way to get through the withdrawal of sugar and carb addiction. It is just like drug and alcohol addiction and the withdrawal can be severe. To some extent, it is just something that one has to go through. On the other hand, with the right nutritional support and diet to support the process, the withdrawal can be reduced significantly.

    The supplements you were taking may not have had all the nutrients you are in need of. Additionally, the supplements will not provide much relief if one does not change the diet simultaneously.

    In order to alleviate the anxiety, one has to give up more than just sugar. The caffeine, chocolate, grains, potatoes, legumes, and other starchy carbohydrates have to go as well. And so does nicotine, marijuana or drug use. As each of these perpetuate the addiction.

    Plus, there are many other factors that may be at play like, environmental toxins, thyroid problems, adrenal problems, chronic stress, food sensitivities, other microbes etc.

    I suggest you take a look at the following books for more detailed information on these topics.

    http://www.holistichelp.net/anxiety-and-depression.html

    http://www.holistichelp.net/sugar-addiction-recovery.html

    http://www.holistichelp.net/candida-secrets.html

    Plus take a look at the following page

    http://www.holistichelp.net/food-addiction.html

    Best
    Cynthia

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