The rates of mental health related issues are skyrocketing. Never have we known such fragile states of mental health as we do right now. Particularly in children and young adults. It is now estimated that the level of mental stress teenage girls live with is equivalent to what would put a grown woman in a mental institution in the 60’s. The reasons for this increase has many opinions, theories, and speculation. Some say social media is to blame, others say divorced parents, while others claim foods and screen time are the culprit. While there is a case that can be built for each of those lifestyle factors if that is the focus of the case, the general consensus is that it is all of those things. The combination of added stressors in multiple areas of society are creating a perfect storm for mental health issues for children, teens, and young adults.
From a functional medicine/nutrition perspective, we assess using neurotransmitter, essential fatty acid, and vitamin/mineral status testing. Based on the data that comes through our office in the form of real people struggling with real life, we see just how intertwined the factors causing anxiety really are. We also see how with the right functional medicine support and social/relational support, anxiety does have solutions. It does not just have to be managed. For many people, it can be solved.
Functional Medicine Factors
Part of solving anxiety is understanding all the factors that can contribute. The idea that anxiety or depression is a chemical imbalance is in part true because of neurotransmitters in the brain, but the ideas that it can only be corrected with medication is a myth. Many people get much worse on medications and the long-term effects of mental health medications are detrimental to many. There are many lifestyle elements that shift neurotransmitters, including social experiences, emotional trauma, and chronic stress. Here are factors affecting neurotransmitters that are taken into consideration when solving anxiety:
- Low omega 3 fatty acid intake
- Magnesium deficiency
- Heavy metal toxicity
- Hormone imbalances
- Thyroid imbalances
- Food sensitivities
- Food chemical sensitivities
- Vitamin/Mineral deficiency
- Amino Acid imbalances
- Mold toxicity
- Chemicals found in cleaning and body care products
- Autoimmune disease including Lyme Disease
This list represents many of the multitude of factors that can contribute to a person experiencing anxiety. When anxiety is treated through the lens of functional medicine, with the help of an Overland KS functional medicine specialist, it is done so under the assumption that something is causing the anxiety. When we can uncover factors contributing to anxious feelings, and correct those imbalances, anxiety can often be solved. When longstanding anxiety associated with trauma or severe emotional distress is occuring, functional medicine works alongside the therapist to support the whole person toward more freedom and relief. Don’t settle for the first medication to be offered. Consider what other options may be available to balance and correct the underlying processes causing your anxious feelings.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from LifeWorks for their insight into anxiety.