Anxiety levels are rising globally with everything that’s going on this year. I wanted to give you this bonus episode full of my top tips to help you reduce your anxiety, not just in these moments, but all year round.
Listen to the Episode
Ways you can treat your anxiety
- Conventional medicine
- Create a calming, electronic free sleeping environment
- Practice meditation
- Take supplements
About Dr. Stephanie Gray
Stephanie Gray, DNP, MS, ARNP, ANP-C, GNP-C, ABAAHP, FAARFM, is a functional medicine provider who helps men and women build sustainable and optimal health and longevity so that they can focus on what matters most to them!
She is the Amazon best-selling author of her book Your Longevity Blueprint, host of the Your Longevity Blueprint podcast, and co-founder of Your Longevity Blueprint Nutraceuticals with her husband, Eric.
They enjoy spending time outside with their son William. They own the Integrative Health and Hormone Clinic in Hiawatha, Iowa.
Conventional Medicine and Anxiety
Anxiety is on the rise amongst my patients. With everything this year has thrown us, it’s unsurprising. But that doesn’t mean you can’t support your body through these anxious periods in a few different ways.
First of all, what exactly is anxiety? I walk you through the specific ways it manifests in your body and explain how many of these signs you need to exhibit in order to receive that diagnosis.
From a conventional, western medicine point of view, there are a few steps you can take. Your doctor might prescribe certain medications, particularly SSRIs and Benzodiazepine, to help you handle the symptoms of anxiety. You might receive a subscription for them separately, or, in some cases, jointly.
Your medical doctor should also recommend talking therapy to help you work through the reasons you’re feeling anxious. This might be in combination with one of the medications mentioned.
Treating Anxiety with Natural Care
There are also natural methods to help calm your anxiety symptoms. Gentle exercise, meditation, and creating a calming, electronic-free bedroom are all at the top of my list.
I’d also recommend taking certain supplements and a daily multivitamin. I’ve linked to the ones I mentioned in this episode and you can get a discount in my shop using the code ‘estrogen detox.’
Finally, I wholeheartedly encourage you to get all your hormones checked by your doctor. They can do this with a blood test that will show you exactly where you could use extra nutritional support. Because, just as with everything in our bodies, your overall mental health begins in your gut.
Are you feeling the pressure and anxiety from the last year? You’re not alone! It’s important to acknowledge how you’re feeling and take the steps you need to help yourself. Let me know in the comments on the episode page what steps you’re taking for yourself.
“You have to sleep to improve anxiety. Sleep is when your body repairs and heals.” [7:39]
“I know what any of you may be thinking: ‘can I take supplements with medications?’ The short answer is yes because they usually help the medications work better. But please consult with your personal medical provider, especially if you’re on lots of medications.” [11:52]
“To improve your overall mental health, you must address gut health.” [12:51]
In This Episode
- How anxiety presents in your life and body [1:30]
- What the types of conventional medication for anxiety are [2:45]
- Some natural ways you can help reduce your levels of anxiety [7:15]
- What supplements you should take for anxiety [8:00]
- Why you should consider getting your hormones tested [13:00]
Links & Resources
Dr. Stephanie Gray 0:03
It's really important when you sleep for you to reduce your exposure to emfs especially at night so turn off your Wi Fi, unplug anything in the bedroom or shoot turn your bedroom circuit breaker off like we do. You have to sleep to improve anxiety sleep is when your body repairs and heals. Welcome to the longevity blueprint podcast, I'm your host, Dr. Stephanie gray. My number one goal with the show is to help you discover your personalized plan to build your dream health and live a longer, happier, truly healthier life. Today, you're going to hear from me. I'm going to try my second episode on my own here discussing a topic that so many of my patients have been struggling with more this year than ever before anxiety. So let's get rolling.
Hey, everybody, thanks for joining me for another episode of The your longevity blueprint podcast, I wanted to provide you a bonus episode because I have so many patients presenting with symptoms of anxiety more now than ever before. They aren't sleeping well. They feel uncomfortable in their skin and COVID has impacted many people in different ways. And because so much of this pandemic situation is out of our control, we have to learn to cope or deal with this new way of life. My previous guests have already interwoven many tips on lifestyle modification for stress management, but I wanted to donate a short episode today to this topic as well.
I want to first define what anxiety is. So symptoms must be nearly every day and they must present for at least six months time. Three of the following six must present restlessness or feeling keyed up having difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, and or sleep disturbance. And that's for a full diagnosis. However, you can also just have anxiety a few days per week versus every day for six months. your nervous system can be more stressed certain days versus others situationally. You can experience a short term about an anxiety not for a full six months as well. But then there's panic disorder. So you must have four attacks within four weeks and at least four symptoms, shortness of breath, dizziness, faintness, palpitations, tachycardia, trembling, sweating, choking, nausea, abdominal distress, numbness or tingling hot flashes, chills, chest pain or discomfort and fear of dying or fear of losing control. Those are just some symptoms. Now, as you've heard me mentioned before, and what's the premise of my book is helping you rebuild and repair your body. I work as a carpenter or contractor to help you again, rebuild your health and get rid of that anxiety. So in the case of anxiety, that means we need to get your nervous system back into balance your body to make more calming neurotransmitters, and even optimize gut health hormones and nutrition. conventional medical treatment for anxiety is really medications. That's what the fire department aka conventional medicine has for treatment.
So let's talk about that. There are two major classes of medications that conventional medicine uses to help with anxiety. First, SSRIs and secondly, the benzodiazepines. So SSRIs or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, they're commonly prescribed class of medications to help with serotonin, serotonin, that happy calming neurotransmitter we all want more of however, know that medications do not boost or increase your levels. They don't cause your body to make more serotonin. They help your body recirculate what you already are making and for some, they can be very effective but for others, they're not effective at all. And come with a list of side effects like two more anxiety, headaches, dizziness, dry mouth, constipation, sweating and sexual dysfunction. SSRIs are drugs like Celexa, Lexapro, Paxil and Prozac which you've probably heard of, to see if an SSRI is really going to work for you, you need to be on it at least a month, these drugs can take time to work. Now secondly, there's another class of medications known as benzodiazepines, which work with GABA. GABA. GABA is the most calming neurotransmitter. If you've ever heard of the drug gabapentin Well, many individuals uses for nerve pain, it can calm the nerves. It works by boosting GABA short term and gabapentin to be clear is not used for anxiety. But I wanted to give you that example. Well known benzodiazepines are drugs like ataman and Xanax, these can be very effective in the short term, they can work fast like in 10 minutes and calm you if you're having an acute panic attack. The downside is that they can be very addicting and hard on the liver, especially in higher dosages. So when tapering off high doses, you actually have to taper slowly to prevent seizures.
Another major long term side effect includes the negative impact on your memory, which nobody wants. Now, oftentimes, SSRIs are prescribed with benzodiazepines so that you have a longer acting medication on board that you can also use the short acting one with, you know what's really cool, we can test your genetics now to see what medications are a good fit or which ones are not a good fit based on how you metabolize them. Hopefully, if you're experiencing symptoms of anxiety, you also have been referred to a therapist who can help you find the link between your thoughts and fear and the physical manifestation in your body being that anxiety and amazing therapist is a gift to have. If you meet with one counselor and you don't connect find another these are crucial member of your team to help you rebuild that mental health. So that's a very brief synopsis of conventional medicines approach to anxiety.
You may have heard me mentioned the nutrient dim on several episodes and I want to take a moment to describe exactly what that is. When I was in graduate school, my doctorate focused on estrogen metabolism. Now, you're probably wondering what that even means and why it matters to your health. Well, research has shown that our risks for fibroids cysts and breast, ovarian, uterine, prostate and colon cancer can all be linked back to estrogen. But it's not the levels of estrogens that can increase our risk. Instead, it's the way our bodies handle that estrogen that matters. We can run individual lab tests for this, which I often recommend to my patients, that's called estrogen metabolism testing, which has to be done in the urine. Even without the test, however, it is safe to take a supplement an extract of cruciferous vegetables to improve your estrogen metabolism. That's basically like taking in six pounds of those veggies per day in a capsule form without the gas. That supplement is called dim di M. You can also use methylated B vitamins as well as specific targeted antioxidants like resveratrol to help improve your estrogen metabolism and help protect you from that cancer risk. Of course, also, make sure you have your practitioner run a comprehensive genetic analysis to see from another perspective, if you are at increased risk and help you learn what you can do to lower that. If you're interested in learning more about dim, read chapter six of my book your longevity blueprint and check out our product info sheet at your longevity blueprint.com Ford slash product Ford slash dem. To get 10% off demo alone or 15% off our estrogen detox bundle with dim methylated B vitamins and antioxidant support. Just use the code estrogen detox when checking out at your longevity blueprint.com. Now let's get back to the show.
I want to next really spend some time talking about how I approach anxiety with my patients from a functional medicine perspective. So how can we help your body make more of these neurotransmitters honestly, there are lots of things we can look into. So I'll next talk about lifestyle changes including diet, nutrients, hormone optimization, and best test to help you determine what you need most. Obviously, we want to help our patients establish relaxation techniques. Things like meditation and deep breathing need to be incorporated into your life to help the body's nervous system really have mental downtime. So when I first tried this, I hated it. I hate I had things to do when I couldn't sit still my brain wouldn't sit still either. But now I crave this calming activity I needed that downtime.
You also want to make sure you're getting ample sleep, which is something that's difficult when you're revved up and anxious. It's really important when you sleep for you to reduce your exposure to emfs especially at night. So turn off your Wi Fi, unplug anything in the bedroom or shoot turn your bedroom circuit breaker off like we do with our installed killed switch I'll post a link to that device that really just cuts the juice to the circuits in our bedrooms at night in the show notes. You have to sleep to improve anxiety sleep is when your body repairs and heals. Now another step is where my favorite supplements come in that I like to call nutrients. So I'll keep this list short. But know that there are so many that I could recommend. Many of these also are going to help sleep and I just emphasize the importance of sleep. So if you don't already take any supplements, I would recommend starting with a high quality multivitamin which will have cofactors needed for your body to make neurotransmitters. It's a great place to start because our diets are lacking. But I do want to get down to some specifics. So I'll talk a little bit about minerals, herbs, amino acids and fish oil.
Next, the top mineral I recommend is magnesium and not just any magnesium not oxide or citrate. I really like magnesium glycinate or three and eight for sleep and anxiety. I highly recommend you also take the form being an amino acid culated version here. So what that means is that the mineral magnesium is key lated or bound to an amino acid because the small intestine loves amino acids and therefore that magnesium it's more likely to get absorbed when taken in that fashion. There'll be less likely to cause diarrhea or go right through you know that most supplements were created for 150 pound man so if you're a 90 pound woman or a 300 pound man, you need to take that into consideration with your dosing. Other things to think about when determining your magnesium need include your lifestyle so are you drinking loads of coffee or alcohol which can impact your sleep and anxiety to these deplete magnesium? Are you super stressed or exercising these also both deplete you of magnesium further and I haven't found a patient yet who really didn't need magnesium. I've personally found that magnesium has helped both my sleep and has helped reduce palpitations which can be a symptom of anxiety. Now next I want to talk a little bit about herbs. So back to the comments I've made on the importance of calming the nervous system. There are herbs that have effects on the nerves to calm them. They're called intervenes. These herbs like skullcap California poppy kameel hops, lavender and Valerian many people have heard of sometimes I use passionflower or peony but my favorite herb is ashwagandha. I've just seen help so many of my patients. It's great for the nerves, the thyroid and all the sex hormones too. It's actually an adaptogenic herb to help your body adapt to stress. Now other common adaptogenic herbs include schizandra, Holy bazel eleutherococcus, which is a form of ginseng, rhodiola and even quadriceps which is a mushroom. These can be taken daily or as needed.
Next I want to mention the importance of amino acid supplements. You likely have heard me talk about these many times before amino acids come from protein, they break it down into peptides which you've also heard me talk about In chapter four of my book I actually show neurotransmitter pathways I show that trip to fan converts to five hydroxy tryptophan, which is known as five HTP. Here, which then converts to serotonin. serotonin converts to melatonin again, that's your calming neurotransmitter pathway. In short, now iron and B vitamins and magnesium are required for these conversions to take place, which leads me back to that multivitamin recommendation, you need to make sure you're covering your basic grounds here. And of course, you can get nutrients from foods and I'm going to talk a little bit about that in a moment. I separately recommend tryptophan for some clients. And that's what's found in Turkey and Cournot, you may get tired after eating. Now tryptophan isn't guaranteed to convert to five HTP. So for some clients, I just cut to the chase and instead give them five HTP. This is something that I've taken over the years that I feel much better on, it's typically recommended to be taken at night. Although some of my patients do well taking it during the day biggest side effect is it could be calming, so it could make you tired during the day. My absolute top favorite amino acid is L theanine, and it contains no caffeine, although it does come from green tea. It's not stimulating at all. In fact, it's very calming, which is the good news because it can work as fast as medications like Xanax, working quickly, but it's not addicting or hard on the liver. I oftentimes use this before public speaking or in the midst of a very stressful afternoon at work.
And for a triple bang for your buck, you could consider a product called adrenal calm which we carry. So this has numerous calming herbs, which I've mentioned a few vitamin mineral cofactors plus L theanine, and even phosphopeptides Syrian, which is a phospholipid, which reduces the half life of cortisol, kind of like how CNE does basically, it calms adrenaline. So the combination is awesome for myself, and also has been very helpful to my patients. Now, don't underestimate the importance of fish oil either it can actually have very calming effect on the nervous system, and it's very anti inflammatory, it has proven to have a reputation clinically for improving mental health. Now, I know what many of you may be thinking, can I take supplements with medications? And the short answer is yes, because they usually help the medications work better. But please consult with your personal medical provider on this, especially if you're on lots of medications, and hopefully a functional medicine brighter you're consulting with as well. supplements are actually how I help my patients wean off medications, but you don't have to take my word for it. In my practice, I can actually test levels of neurotransmitters in the urine as well as test for what nutrients my patients need to make those neurotransmitters. Now, there's no perfect test, but what we offer can be very helpful. Basically, what I'm saying is that I can test my patients on or off medications and supplements to see what they're missing to improve their mental health. We can look at dopamine, norepinephrine, epinephrine, glycine, histamine, GABA and serotonin levels. In addition to cortisol to see if the patient looks like they've been in that fight or flight mode. We can also assess to see if they need need vitamins, minerals, amino acids, antioxidants, or omegas.
So many individuals spend time guessing on what they need, but testing is best. Now, there are some other things to consider above and beyond what I've already mentioned. To improve your overall mental health, you must address gut health. I'm going to say that again. To improve overall mental health, you must address your gut health. I thoroughly discussed this in my book your longevity blueprint, Chapter One is all about improving gut health by removing gut infections and food sensitivities. These cause gut inflammation and compromise your body's ability to do what it should and making those important neurotransmitters. Most people don't even know that the majority of neurotransmitters are made in the gut, they truly are with a small amount made by the adrenals in the brain. Now for some people getting certain inflammatory foods out of their diet like gluten, dairy, soy, corn, eggs, sugar can have a tremendous impact on their mental health. But this takes time avoiding gluten just one day isn't going to do it, you have to undo damage that's been done. Secondly, get your hormone levels tested too low or too high thyroid can lead to anxiety and balance sex hormones like estrogen, progesterone and testosterone can lead to anxiety as well. I see this not only in middle aged men, but even in young men who present me with low testosterone. Testosterone gives them in their engine helps them feel confident and not anxious. We have a low testosterone epidemic.
And you can hear more about that in my interview with Dr. Tracy gap, and it's something that needs to be tested for in men. Now in women the hormone iPhone most important is progesterone. Stress robs the body of progesterone that that most calming hormone for sleep, anxiety, and calming the nervous system. So you may need herbs to support progesterone or progesterone itself. And I'm not talking about synthetic birth control here. I often see low progesterone postpartum in my patients also leading to postpartum anxiety. So how do you know if you have hormone imbalances? Well, you get your levels tested. Now today, I know I've mentioned a lot the importance of stress reduction, eating clean, and some lab testing that can be helpful on your journey. So find a functional medicine practitioner who can help you assess your gut health status, look at neurotransmitter and hormone levels and help you fix your nutritional deficiencies. They can help you strategize the best supplements and even medications based on your genes. That is the most holistic strategy to help you manage your anxiety better if not heal from it completely. So I hope this episode was helpful. And please let me know if you'd like me to do another episode
on certain conditions. I'll post links to all the products I recommend in the show notes and for an extra 10% off use code, no more stress. So please share this episode with those who need that right up my tips for anxiety Be sure to check out my book your longevity blueprint. And if you aren't much of a reader, you're in luck. You can now take my course online where I walk you through each chapter in the book. Plus for a limited time Not only is the course 50% off, but you also get your first consult with me for free. Check this offer out at your longevity blueprint calm and click the course tab. One of the biggest things you can do to support the show and help us reach more listeners is to subscribe to the show. And leave us a rating and review on Apple podcasts or wherever you listen. I read all the reviews and would truly love to hear your suggestions for show topics guests for how you're applying what you've learned on the show to create your own longevity blueprint. The podcast is produced by the team at counterweight creative. As always, thanks so much for listening and remember, wellness is waiting.
The information provided in this podcast is educational. No information provided should be considered to be or used as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always consult with your personal medical authority.