What causes anxiety?

The many causes of anxiety

by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist

Anxiety is a multidimensional problem that affects far too many people today – but what causes anxiety? Below is a brief summary of some of the possible biochemical causes and support available.

Note: Stress, psychological and emotional causes are not addressed here but are extremely important factors that must never be overlooked.

Nutritional deficiencies

Nutritional deficiencies such as B vitamins, magnesium, calcium, potassium and vitamin C deficiency can all contribute to, or exacerbate anxiety symptoms. These deficiencies can be caused by low intake, poor absorption or metabolic disorders and/or stress, thus the body requires higher amounts of these nutrients. It is best to not self prescribe otherwise other imbalances can be created. Specific ratios of vitamins and minerals are required for balanced mental, emotional and physical health and well-being.

Allergies and intolerances

There are many common food and substance allergies that influence anxiety, such as food colors, preservatives, gluten or dairy allergies or intolerances. Many people who have been tested for allergies can actually have intolerances that may have been missed which can aggravate symptoms of anxiety. Food sensitivities that are not allergies can also be a problem, such as being sensitive to sugar, caffeine or salicylates for example. For more information see my article Diet for Allergies and Intolerances

Hormone imbalances

Hormone imbalances, especially thyroid levels, can give rise to anxiety symptoms. If a person has an under or overactive thyroid, then anxiety can be one of the many symptoms. Testing for thyroid levels in Australia can leave out many subclinical cases that could otherwise be helped by natural hormone support. PMS can be accompanied by increased anxiety, so balancing hormones in general can be a helpful support.

Blood sugar imbalances

If a person’s blood sugar is not stable, too high, or especially if too low, this will surface any underlying anxiety that may not have been noted. Blood sugar levels are dependent on the types of foods eaten (especially protein and carbohydrates) or how well they are digested, as well as proper probiotic (friendly gut bacteria) levels. Another factor is whether the pancreas is functioning properly or not.

Metabolic disorders

Metabolic disorders such as pyrrole (aka pyroluria) are known to lead to an imbalance in specific vitamins and minerals. One of the more common symptoms of pyroluria is anxiety. Pyrrole disorder can be easily tested with a specific urine test and treatment is with specific nutrients. For more information go to All about Pyrrole 

Heavy metal toxicity

Toxicity from heavy metals/minerals can also create imbalances that exacerbate anxiety. Sometimes a basic imbalance in the ratios of non-toxic minerals can aggravate symptoms. Testing is best done by hair analysis. Metal and Mineral testing is available at the True Vitality clinic.

Amino acid imbalances

Amino acids are the building blocks or individual parts of proteins. These are the needed co-factors for the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, adrenaline (epinephrine) and nor-adrenaline (nor epinephrine). Amino acids and neurotransmitters can now be tested by urine to see if there are any crucial imbalances contributing to anxiety.

Other factors

Other factors that could add to anxiety are: leaky gut syndrome, high copper levels, high histamine levels, other health problems/diseases, previous or current substance abuse leading to metabolic imbalances, reactions to medications, stress, caffeine, alcohol and much more.

The above is a brief summary of conditions and imbalances that can add to anxiety. For more specific testing and assessments please visit an experienced health care practitioner or contact me at True Vitality. Appointments are available in clinic, online or phone. Please click for more information

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