The Anatomy of Anxiety



Buried deep in the brain is an area known as the limbic system. The limbic system connects to key parts of the brain such as the amydala and the hippocampus, where all memories begin and are stored for later playback. The limbic system is the emotional storehouse of the brain where anxiety is born. When you are under stress, the limbic system acts like an alarm, sending message of anxiety, fear and panic. As a storehouse of emotional memories, it also plays back painful traumas or stressful episodes of the past. If the stress is chronic, the unceasing signals can break down the master controller of the brain's reasoning and decision making centers, resulting in anxiety, panic, insomnia, chronic fatigue and phobias.

One out of five children and adults suffer from anxiety in the United States alone. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, some twenty-four million Americans will suffer from an anxiety disorder at some time in their life. In children, constant anxiety, can contribute to Attention Deficit Disorder and hyperactivity. Thousands of children are given this diagnosis and Ritalin is prescribed, yet the problem is anxiety related.

Major Symptoms Of Anxiety:

Pounding heart, skipping, racing heart
Unable to relax, constant tension, nervousness
Feeling of loss of control, uncertainty
Mental confusion, memory problems
Restless sleep, restlessness
Neck and shoulder pain, muscle spasms
Difficulty breathing, cannot take a deep breath.
Rush of panic and fear, adrenaline rush
Mood swings
Bottomless stomach, diarrhea, constipation
Loss of sex drive
Facial tics
Knots in the stomach
Digestive upsets
Obsessive sweating
There are medical disorders that may provoke anxiety symptoms. They include:

Cardiovascular - cardiac arrythmias, congestive heart failure, high blood pressure, heart attack.
Respiratory - asthma, emphysema, hyperventilation, hypoxia
Endocrine Cushing's syndrome, carcinoid syndrome, hypoglycemia, hyperthyroidism.
Neurological - Epilepsy, Huntington's disease, migraine headaches, multiple headaches, Wilson's disease, vertigo, chronic pain.

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Many times the drugs that are given for the medical problems can cause rebound anxiety, some of these are stimulants, sedatives, tranquilizers, MAO's (monoamine oxidase inhibitors), tricyclics and antidepressants. There are numerous anxiety symptoms, those related to panic are physical. Those with anxiety disorders often see a long list of physicians before finally realizing that the problem is anxiety, find a therapist to help them. Fear of impending surgery or a health crisis can cause the limbic system to send constant messages of anxiety, fear and panic. When physicians and hospitals are involved, there is always uncertainty which gives birth to anxiety. This anxiety represents a fear of loss of control and can cause hospital phobias.

Caring for a loved one after surgery, especially if cancer is involved causes the caregiver to take on the symptoms and display anxiety and pain. A study sponsored by the National Institute of Mental Health found 30% of the caregivers suffer from clinical depression or anxiety while the loved one is alive. A quarter suffer symptoms four years later; 10% of non-caregiving relatives were depressed and had anxiety attacks for four years after death. Grief of a loved one can cause anxiety that produces a constant adrenaline rush, which in turn, can cause muscle contraction headaches. Physical pain frequently comes from chronic anxiety. There are millions of people in the U.S. who suffer from stress and anxiety, induced pain. Until the cause is addressed, they will never improve.

If you or your children suffer from anxiety, drugs are not the answer. Drugs do not create the needed neurotransmitters for the limbic system. An in-depth study done by Consumer Reports, January, 1993, cited studies that demonstrated Xanax, Prozac, Halcion and others were not effective. Drugs only treat symptoms. Stop the drugs and the symptoms return. Peter Breggin, M.D., in his book, Toxic Psychiatry, addresses all the negative side effects of psychiatric drugs. If you are taking antidepressants or tranquilizers I encourage you to read this excellent book.

Those who have anxiety need neurotransmitters. Amino acids create neurotransmitters and restore the balance of the brain chemistry. The specific amino acids for anxiety are used in combination formula including GABA, glutamine and glycine. If you have depression, tyrosine is very helpful. All amino acids must be taken with B6, an important cofactor. If your problem is test anxiety, use Super Glutamine one to three times daily.

Mag Link, a magnesium chloride is very helpful with anxiety and chronic pain. Every anxious person I have seen is magnesium deficient. Magnesium is the number one stress mineral. Under prolonged situations of stress and anxiety, magnesium stores are burned rapidly. The optimal intake of magnesium is 600-1,000 mg. per day. Most people only get 100 mg. of magnesium from their daily diet. The R.D.A. is 400 mg. per day. This means that you are deficient in magnesium, and this deficiency can lead to increased anxiety, facial tics, palpitations, back pain, heart disease and hypertension.

For chronic pain, use DLPA 750 mg twice daily, Boswella 300 mg twice daily or Pain Control 24.

For sleep, use Liquid Serotonin, Sedaplus, Melatonin or 5-HTP

If you are on the proper supplement program, you can control your anxiety by feeding your brain the nutrients it needs. Amino acids and brain function go hand and hand. The brain is the most undernourished organ in the body. Your brain needs nourishment daily. The proper nourishment comes from vitamins, amino acids, minerals, proteins and carbohydrates. Learn to relax by using relation tapes that teach you how to meditate using deep breathing and a release of negative or fearful feelings. For complete information on amino acids for pain, stress, anxiety and depression, read Healing With Amino Acids of the Anxiety Epidemic available at your local health food store or call 1-800-669-2256.

Other helpful resources:

Control of Anxiety audio cassette tape by Billie J. Sahley, Ph.D.

Anxiety/Panic Attacks audio cassette tape by Billie J. Sahley, Ph.D.

Healing Images audio cassette tape by Bernie Seigal, M.D.

Toxic Psychiatry by Peter Breggin, M.D.

Tired or Toxic by Sherry Rogers, M.D.

The Great Anxiety Escape by Max Ricketts

Beyond Prozac by Michael Norden, M.D.

Mind as Healer, Mind as Slayer by Kenneth Pelletier, M.D., Ph.D.

Pain & Stress Publications.


By Billie J. Sahley

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