I was recently diagnosed with an Adjustment Disorder, a type of mental illness related to anxiety, as a result of an event that occurred in my workplace. I’m fine, and proper steps are taking place to resolve the situation, but that did not change the reaction I had towards the event on an emotional and behavioral level.
In the hours to days after the event, I was tearful. I had a hard time identifying my emotions and leaned into how I thought I “should” feel instead. I felt like my entire body, not just my stomach, had butterflies roaming around to the point that I was shaking. I denied myself the pleasure of watching some of my favorite movies and television shows for fear of potentially being triggered by what I saw. I didn’t want to run outside or walk my dog by myself like I typically would, and I still haven’t been able to bring myself to mow my lawn.
Now being a couple weeks removed from the situation, I am able to manage most of these things and attempt to find the positive out of every situation. But my short-lived situation isn’t what most people experience when it comes to an Anxiety Disorder.
Signs and symptoms of most Anxiety Disorders, including but not limited to, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Agoraphobia, are similar but could be vastly different from person to person.
Some examples are:
- Excessive worry and anxiety more days than not
- Restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge
- Easily fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing
- Muscle tension
- Sleep disturbance: difficulty falling or staying asleep
Of course, these are just some symptoms that may occur, and it would be most practical for you to seek help from a mental health professional to be officially diagnosed.
According to research, in 2017 Anxiety Disorders were the most prevalent mental health illnesses in the world, with approximately 284 million people diagnosed in that year alone, likely with many more to have gone undiagnosed. Each person is different, has varying symptoms, and prefers a different modality of treatment.
Talking with a mental health professional to learn techniques to manage your symptoms is usually an excellent place to start but changing your eating habits could be a helpful supplement when you are not in their office. Please note that I am not encouraging you to only eat the foods listed here and that you will instantly see amazing results. There is only sparse research conducted currently; however, these foods have been shown to assist the body in numerous ways and have the potential to assist with mental health as well.
This fatty fish contains nutrients that promote brain health, including vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids that may help regulate dopamine and serotonin, which are considered the “feel good” neurotransmitters amongst other positive attributes. For instance, studies have shown that these fatty acids can reduce inflammation and prevent brain cell dysfunction that could lead to the development of mental disorders, such as Anxiety.
Chamomile and Green Tea
The chamomile herb contains high amounts of antioxidants, which assist in reducing inflammation and possibly decrease the risk of Anxiety. Green tea contains L-theanine, which is an amino acid that has been shown to have positive effects on overall brain health and reduction of Anxiety, specifically related to decreased heart rate, blood pressure, and cortisol, better known as the “stress hormone”. For these reasons, it could be beneficial to swap your typical cup of coffee in the morning to green tea and chamomile tea at night to assist with sleep.
This yummy treat contains the antioxidants, flavonoids, that may benefit brain function by improving blood flow to the brain and promoting its ability to respond to stressful situations. Or, the delicious taste could just be comforting, which results in a release of serotonin. As most of us know too well, chocolate can be easily overate, so take caution when enjoying this delicious delicacy.
Fermented, probiotic foods, including yogurt, have been shown to promote mental health and brain function by impeding free radicals and neurotoxins, which can damage nerve tissue in the brain. It should be noted though that not all yogurt contains probiotics. Look for Greek or plain yogurts, in general, that specify having live active cultures as an ingredient.
Most of us have heard the tale that turkey has “something” in it that makes us sleepy after also having nearly eaten our body weight in food around Thanksgiving, and it’s actually true! Tryptophan, found in turkey, is that “something” that the body needs to produce serotonin, which also helps regulate sleep and mood and may promote relaxation and Anxiety relief.
This sweet “superfood” has been known recently to be packed full of nutrients and vitamins that help support our general brain health, specifically vitamin C and antioxidants, including flavonoids. These have been studied and may be useful in both the prevention and reduction of Anxiety due to them helping to repair and protect our cells.
The following are additional, lesser researched, examples of foods that may be beneficial in reducing Anxiety based on their vitamin and nutrient contents: bananas, oats, eggs, chia seeds, citrus fruits, bell peppers, almonds, asparagus, avocado, and kale.
Overall research is fairly limited on the benefits of specific foods coupled with anxiety prevention and management; however, this list of foods has been shown to assist the body on a physical level. Please consider the opinion of your own mental health professional, medical professional, and/or food professional before making any significant changes to your diet or treatment of your mental health illness. As always, you know your body best and what you need in order to become the best version of yourself possible, whatever that may look like.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with a mental health professional or nutrition coach regarding anxiety related symptoms or eating habits, please schedule a complimentary consultation on zenlightenmentwellness.com or call (989) 388-1880. Comment down below or on our social media on Facebook or Instagram if you have any additional insight into Anxiety Disorders and how your diet may affect your symptoms or if there are any other helpful treatments that you have used!