Understanding Anxiety Part 1

mental health naturopathic medicine understanding anxiety Apr 10, 2023
Naturopathic Medicine Support for Anxiety

The American psychological association describes anxiety as “an emotion characterized by feeling tension, worried thoughts and experiencing physical changes like increased blood pressure. People with anxiety tend to have reoccurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry.” When people are experiencing anxiety, they are focusing on a potential perceived threat in their future.


Eckhart Tolle talks about the mind in his book the Power of Now. I highly recommend reading his book, it’s one of my favourites. One of the biggest obstacles to being in the present moment is the incessant chatter and thinking that happens within the mind. When we identify with the mind it causes our thoughts to become compulsive. The delusion arises when you believe you are the mind and stay stuck in your mind and thought patterns. It is important to be a witness of your thoughts and become aware of the thoughts you are telling yourself in your mind. As you consciously listen to your mind, it loses its power and you are no longer identifying with the mind.


We become addicted to the mind and compulsive thinking because when identifying with the mind you are deriving your sense of self from the content and activity of the mind. As you grow up, this allows you to form a mental image of how you perceive yourself. This self can be defined as the ego. To the ego only the past and future exist and not the present moment. Keeping the past alive in your mind keeps you stuck in the version of yourself that you are mentally identifying with.


Problems means that you are dwelling on a situation mentally without there being a true intention or possibility of taking action now. You are unconsciously making this so-called mental problem a part of your sense of self.


Anxiety Symptoms

Feeling restless, wound-up or on-edge

Being easily fatigued

Difficulty concentrating


Headaches, muscle aches, stomach-aches or unexplained pains

Difficulty controlling feelings of worry

Sleep difficulties – falling or staying asleep

Compulsive overthinking

Racing heart




Root Causes of Anxiety


Gut-Brain Axis

The brain and gut are very connected. 1) The vagus nerve connects the brain and the gut. 2) The gut has its own nervous system called the enteric nervous system, which also signals to the brain. 3) The gut also has 1 trillion microorganisms that live in the GI tract. Good healthy microbiome and low inflammation produced in the gut can positively impact your mental health. 90% of serotonin our happy chemical is made by the gut microbiome.


Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis

Your body’s stress response can be overactivated, producing more of your stress hormone cortisol. Numerous stressful life events can cause anxiety: work, school, personal relationships such as marriage, finances, unpredictable world events, emotional experiences, medical illness etc. A number of factors can affect your stress response like blood sugar imbalances, lack of sleep, caffeine, toxins and allergens.


Outside factors causing anxiety

Medication side effects, illicit drugs (cocaine) or symptoms of a medical illness (hypoglycemia, hyperthyroidism, heart attack etc.).


Childhood Trauma  

Dr. Russell Kennedy, MD and neuroscientist talks about chronic anxiety being a pattern engrained in the amygdala of the brain (area responsible for emotions) from childhood. It can be caused from unresolved old emotional wounding and trauma stuck in your body and your nervous system. He describes anxiety as old painful ALARMS in your body.

A = abuse (psychical, emotional, sexual)

L = loss (major loss like death or divorce of parents)

A = abandonment

R = rejection (being bullied or neglected)

M = maturing too soon (anything that made you grow up too fast)

S = shame (anything that shamed you)


These traumatic events overwhelm our nervous system and get buried in our unconscious mind. When we don’t want to feel the emotions happening in our body, we can start going up into our heads as an escape and overthink. We end up with a lot of energy concentrated in our minds, instead of feeling safe to be in our bodies. Dr. Kennedy says if you are able to get to the root causes of anxiety by healing your inner child, you can put out the fire at the source rather than just managing symptoms of dulling down your anxiety.


Treating Anxiety Naturally 


It is important to know that your anxiety can be healed. You do not have to live your life constantly feeling triggered, stuck or on edge. There are various naturopathic therapies that can help support the body to restore optimal health. Support your gut health, repair and restore the body with nutritional and botanical supplements, manage your stress levels, supporting your diet and sleep. Various mind-body medicine techniques can support anxiety such as: mindfulness, therapeutic exercise/yoga. progressive muscle relaxation, breath work and meditation. 


You can listen to my guided meditation for anxiety and overthinking HERE.



Tolle, Eckhart. 1999. The power of now. Novato, CA: New World Library.

Kennedy, Russell. 2020. Anxiety RX. Awaken Village Press

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