Depression and anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders in human health. Depression is the main clinical feature of low mood, loss of interest, often accompanied by guilt, hopelessness, loss of appetite and insomnia, and it is one of the main types of mood disorders. Anxiety is an emotional state where the main characteristics are tension, worry, fear, and physical changes such as palpitations, tremors, gastrointestinal tract, respiratory and circulatory disorders without obvious objective causes. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that the prevalence of depression in the global population was as high as 4.4%. One in nine people worldwide suffered from anxiety in the past year, due to its high prevalence and debilitating features, anxiety disorders ranked sixth among all diseases in the global population. Excessive anxiety is associated with many negative health consequences, such as increased risk of coronary heart disease, sleep disorders.
There are many nutrients and herbs that offer protection against toxins AND also provide anxiety relief. You may even find some of their dual-purpose benefits surprising! One improves sleep and reduces anxiety after traumatic brain injury AND removes toxic proteins via the brain glymphatic system. Another improves gut health and reduces noise-induced stress (and misophonia) AND may help prevent and reverse radiation-induced DNA and intestinal damage.
Gamma Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) is a naturally occurring amino acid that works as a neurotransmitter in your brain. Neurotransmitters function as chemical messengers. GABA is considered an inhibitory neurotransmitter because it blocks, or inhibits, certain brain signals and decreases activity in your nervous system. When GABA attaches to a protein in your brain known as a GABA receptor, it produces a calming effect. This can help with feelings of anxiety, stress, and fear. It may also help to prevent seizures. It eases anxiety, physical tension and worry, and induces relaxation. In one study it was reported to work effectively within 1 hour, also allowing better focus and concentration. It also enhanced immunity under stressful conditions such as when crossing a suspension bridge. A significant increase in salivary IgA (immunoglobulin A) was observed 90 minutes after GABA intake. As a result of these properties, GABA has also become a popular supplement in recent years. This is partly because it isn’t available from many food sources. The only foods that contain GABA are fermented ones, such as kimchi, miso, and tempeh.
Tryptophan (5HTP) Low levels of serotonin are associated with anxiety, depression, insomnia, autism spectrum disorder, obesity (and cravings), cognitive issues, anorexia and bulimia nervosa. Serotonin also plays a significant role in the function of the brain-gut axis and immunology. Tryptophan is an amino acid supplement that is used to support low levels of serotonin and to ease the worry-in-head type of ruminating anxiety. Used in the luteal phase or second half of the cycle (i.e. after ovulation) for 3 consecutive cycles, tryptophan has been shown to ease premenstrual dysphoria (a state of unease or generalized dissatisfaction with life), mood swings, tension and anxiety, and irritability. These results suggest that increasing serotonin synthesis during the late luteal phase of the menstrual cycle offers these beneficial effects. Tryptophan is best used mid-afternoon and evening away from protein. Clinically, many individuals find it to be more effective for easing anxiety and other low serotonin symptoms when used sublingually.
Probiotics Psychobiotics are bacteria which confer mental health benefits. Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium species have demonstrated the ability to improve mood, reduce anxiety and enhance cognitive function in both healthy populations and patient groups. In recent years, probiotics have received increasing attention for their extensive clinical applications and beneficial health effects on various clinical disorders including acute and chronic gastrointestinal diseases as well as non-gastrointestinal diseases. Previous research has indicated that the intestinal flora plays a more important role in regulating mood and that probiotics have a wider range of therapeutic applications than previously considered
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) is a modified form of the amino acid cysteine and helps your body produce glutathione. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that supports liver detoxification and reduces free radicals in the body. Over the past 30 years, high doses of NAC have been used in emergency rooms to combat acetaminophen (Tylenol) toxicity. But there is also an overwhelming amount of evidence showing that NAC can help treat a number of neurological and psychiatric disorders.
A systematic review of all of the evidence suggests that NAC is effective at treating the following conditions;:
• Major depressive disorder
• Bipolar disorder
• Drug addiction
• Obsessive-compulsive disorder
• Alzheimer's disease
• Certain forms of epilepsy (progressive myoclonic)
NAC also reduces the severity of mild traumatic brain injury in soldiers, and animal studies show that it can improve cognition after moderate traumatic brain injury.
Melatonin Melatonin is a hormone produced primarily at night by the pineal gland that regulates your circadian rhythm — the 24-hour sleep-wake cycle that tells us to sleep when it’s dark and stay awake during the day. Circadian rhythms are often controlled internally, but external factors, like sunlight, temperature, exercise, and more, can influence these rhythms as well.
In a perfect scenario, the pineal gland will secrete higher levels of melatonin at night to help you fall asleep and stay asleep. When morning comes, melatonin levels will fall and your body will adjust by slowly waking up. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen so smoothly. Factors such as noise, light, stress, working hours, jet lag, lack of exercise, poor diet, and many other factors can cause your body to produce low levels of melatonin. If your levels of melatonin are hindered, you may experience sleep deprivation, fatigue, or mood disorders among countless other troubles.
Fortunately for us, if we’re tossing and turning at night due to loud noises, bright lights, or a lack of melatonin production, we can take melatonin supplements to help us fall asleep.
You may now be wondering how melatonin production relates to mental health. What does a hormone that aids in sleep regulation have to do with anxiety anyway? To answer this question, let’s take a step back to focus not on melatonin, but on sleep.
Sleep and mental health are very closely connected. Every 90 minutes or so, a healthy individual will cycle between four phases of increasingly deep sleep. Body temperature drops and heart rate slows during the first sleep phase. By the fourth phase, your body is producing physiological changes that boost your immune system and prepare your nervous system for another day. Sleep disturbances that disrupt this transition between stages of sleep can wreak havoc on your brain. Your cognitive function may become impaired, stress hormones may be released, and above all else, your emotional regulation may not function as it should.
If this happens once, you can go to bed early the next night and make up for lost sleep without worry. But if your sleep efficiency is repeatedly impacted, your mental health may suffer in return.
This is where melatonin can come to the rescue. By taking melatonin, you can help your body get the sleep it needs to stay mentally fit. Melatonin treatment can be a positive sleep aid that promotes healthier, consistent sleep. These positive effects of melatonin can thereby ensure your brain is healthy and ready to go, each and every morning.
Foods that help reduce anxiety
Most of us know that healthy eating is important for physical health, but what if eating better also helped our mental health? Recent studies show that diet may play a role in lowering one's anxiety level. Eating a diet that is well balanced and focused on whole foods versus processed foods is key. Whole grains, vegetables and fruits are higher in complex carbohydrates and fiber that help to slow digestion, thereby avoiding significant shifts in blood sugar levels that can contribute to feeling more anxious. Other strategies include not skipping meals, staying hydrated by drinking adequate amounts of water, and limiting or avoiding caffeine and alcohol. In addition, some studies have shown that specific foods may help to reduce anxiety.