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Anxiety - a Commonly MIssed Diagnosis

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There are very few conditions that are missed as often as anxiety in clinical practice. There are two reasons for this, (1) the patient feels alone and afraid of what might possibly be wrong with them; (2) the patient’s personality with anxiety is one that is more withholding (less forthcoming) than in a patient without anxiety.

The most common symptoms of anxiety are:
Troublesome Sleep
Chronic Worry
Ongoing Tense, Restless Feelings
Difficulty Concentrating

Poor Appetite Control or Lack of
Easily Startled

As a Naturopathic Physcian, our goal is to identify and treat the underlying cause to a patient’s illness. In treating anxiety, I feel very strongly that using medications is essential while the underlying cause is being identified and addressed.
I have found that until a patient understands what it feels like not have anxiety, our therapy lacks understanding of what our goal is. It’s one thing to not want to feel one way, it’s another thing to understand exactly what they want to feel. A good comparison is treating a patient for headaches. They clearly know what it feels like to not have a headache, so the goal is clearly definable. If a person has always suffered anxiety, this is the only thing they know and the journey to wellbeing is seemingly elusive.

Once a person can own a perception of what it is like to not be anxious, then and only then, can they step into the journey of unwinding it. Many things cause anxiety. To understand the cause, we must understand what it is.
Anxiety is an unpleasant feeling accompanied by fear or worry. Physcians use questionnaires to diagnose anxiety along with clinical findings. There is no other type of test you can take to diagnose it. Some people who are simply stressed most of the time or who lack emotion to life events or simply lack natural laughter can be suffering from anxiety without even knowing it.

Whatever we feel individually is a very unique experience. Until one can experience true joy and wellbeing on a daily basis (outside of traumatic stressors), which is the opposite of fear and worry, it is difficult to perceive what it is like to not have anxiety. Things that contribute to the cause of either a light or heavy sensation of fear and worry can be nutritional, hormonal, biochemical, or vibrational. Nutritionally, if we overuse stimulants like caffeine or nicotine, we can create an adrenaline surge that doesn’t turn off, creating anxiety. We all have a unique tolerance to these chemicals, some people cannot even have one sip of coffee without feeling “wired” in an uncomfortable way.

Many times patients, both men and women, begin to feel anxiety for the first time as they are aging which is due to hormonal changes. Of course, if a person is experiencing acute stress related to finances, relationships or health issues, anxiety is related to the event and is called situational. But when these feelings are felt without outside cause and it comes upon the person suddenly without a past history, it is usually responsive to hormonal therapy – whether it be adrenal, thyroid or sex steroid hormones – it is all considered hormonal.

Biochemical anxiety occurs when there is no identifiable outside cause and the patient, no matter what changes he/she makes in lifestyle, it never improves. Biochemical anxiety, [internal, endogenous] usually needs anti-anxiety medications for life unless their vibrational system is supported well. Vibrational anxiety means that the vibration of the systems in one body are in disharmony. This may have occurred due to an abrupt trauma that the person never recovered from. It occurs in infants as well – possibly due to a traumatic pregnancy experienced by mom which is transferred to the baby, possibly part of the baby’s own energy system, separate from the birth parents. Just because trauma existed, anxiety is not inevitable. Anxiety occurs vibrationally [energetically] when one has difficulty managing their own energy. In this instant again I may recommend initially to use anti-anxiety mediations like xanax or valium but will encourage the patient to look further.
Looking further means:
Using tools from nature like
Guided meditation until self meditation is comfortable
Emotional Freedom Technique (tapping)
Being in nature, allowing those sounds to predominate over thoughts
Testing hormones
Testosterone and DHEA in men and women, Estradiol and Progesterone in women
Testing Neurotransmitters
Saliva and urine that looks at brain biochemistry

Regardless of what approach is used, in talk therapy, defining fear is helpful for people to start becoming aware of triggers. Using the acronym, F.E.A.R = False Evidence Appearing Real; begins helping the individual to identify what is false and what is true. This takes time, but without the awareness, nothing happens. Intellect and emotion aren’t always in synch. If you or a loved one has symptoms that appear as if they may be suffering anxiety, please find someone you trust that can help shift away from this unpleasant life experience.

Add a Comment1 Comments

Dr. Ramsey,

As someone who has dealt with anxiety since childhood, I want to thank you so much for writing this post. The concept of needing to feel what a life without anxiety is like is so important. I remember the first time I took medicine to help my anxiety and learned what it is like to feel that you are clear and on firm ground. I thought, is this what it's like to feel "normal"? It was a true Aha! moment. I didn't feel tranquilized or sleepy. I just felt FINE. I felt able to cope. I felt rational, reasonable. It was bliss.

Thank you so much for exploring this topic. I believe you'll help many people who up to this point in their lives may have just thought of themselves as "worriers" who should just be able to "stop it" on their own. Learning that a constant state of anxiety is not normal is life-changing.

October 28, 2009 - 8:50am
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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