Everyone gets worried or down from time to time, but if anxiety or mood problems are having a significant impact on your life, it’s important to take a proactive approach to turning the situation around. Along with seeking help from your healthcare professional, taking nutritional supplements and herbal medicines may help, especially when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Anxiety is a specific form of stress characterised by apprehension and worry that something negative and uncontrollable is going to occur in the near or distant future.
Such feelings may be warranted for short periods when stressful circumstances in your life occur, but in anxiety sufferers they tend to be more persistent and/or intense, and to be out of proportion to the actual level of risk involved. The affected person is sometimes unable to name the perceived threat, and instead feels a generalised sense of apprehension.
The degree of anxiety experienced varies widely from person to person, from persistent feelings of concern and an inability to stop thinking about possible negative events to overwhelming and debilitating panic attacks.
These inner symptoms often lead to outward physical and behavioural manifestations of anxiety, many of which are characteristic of the body’s fight-or-flight responses to acute stress, and which may include:
In contrast to the hyper-aroused state of anxiety, problems with low moods tend to be experienced as feelings of listlessness and an inability to get moving physically, mentally or emotionally. Symptoms may include:
More serious manifestations of anxiety and mood problems that are beyond the scope of this article may include extreme highs and lows, episodes of mania, and deep periods of depression. If you or someone you know is experiencing such symptoms, seek medical advice immediately or reach out for help online via beyondblue.
Anxiety and other mood problems are usually caused by a combination of factors.
They are often (but not always) triggered by situations of trauma, loss or ongoing stress, including bereavement, relationship problems, work issues, illness and abuse – especially if these issues occur at a time when ongoing difficulties are already present.
Other contributing factors may include family history (including learned behaviours, negative childhood experiences and genetic factors), substance abuse (e.g. alcohol), nutritional imbalances and in-built personality characteristics.
In some instances, anxiety and mood problems may also be associated with underlying health conditions and physiological imbalances, including stress, premenstrual syndrome, menopause, chronic fatigue syndrome, thyroid problems, irritable bowel syndrome, heart problems and blood sugar issues.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) uses the term Shen to describe that intangible quality within each of us that encompasses our minds, consciousness, spirit and capacity for love.
According to this ancient philosophy of medicine, Shen is a form of Qi (life force energy) that flows through both the brain and the Heart organ-meridian system as part of our natural circadian rhythms.
Disturbances of the Shen and its smooth movement around the body can be both a cause and a consequence of physical, mental and emotional stress, and often manifest as feelings of anxiety, mental agitation, tension, and disturbed sleep. An agitated Shen may also interfere with the normal functioning of the Stomach organ meridian system, causing digestive difficulties.