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Anxiety disorders are one of the most common forms of Mental Illness during Cancer Treatments.

Posted by Geoff Beaty on 26 June 2021
Anxiety disorders are one of the most common forms of Mental Illness during Cancer Treatments.

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common forms of mental illness during cancer treatments. 

A prescribed pharmaceutical medicine can mask the symptoms of mental health, without fully addressing the underlying causes of our anxiety issues. In order to restore ourselves to optimal health, we need to look at natural remedies for anxiety and the important relationship between our gut health and our mental health.

What's the difference between experiencing anxiety and having an anxiety disorder?
Anxiety is what we feel when we are faced with threats, danger or when we are stressed. We will feel upset, uncomfortable, and tense. Anxiety is an appropriate response to stressful life experiences, such as the death of someone close, a job loss or a relationship breakdown. This anxiety usually only lasts for a limited time.

Anxiety disorders are distinct from this short-lived state. They are a group of illnesses characterised by persistent feelings of high anxiety, and extreme discomfort and tension 3. They can affect the way a person thinks, feels and behaves and, if not treated, can cause considerable distress and disruption to the person's life. A person can experience feelings of losing control and impending doom, as well as anxiety symptoms such as breathlessness and palpitations, sweating, trembling, feelings of choking, nausea, abdominal distress, dizziness and pins, and needles.

Common types of anxiety disorders
Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) persistent, excessive or unrealistic worry
Social phobia the difficulty to interact in social situations, increased self-consciousness, inability to relax and relate in social situations, particularly large groups, with new people and in unfamiliar environments
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) uncontrollable compulsions or obsessions
Panic disorder characterised by panic attacks associated with an overwhelming sense of disaster
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) a type of anxiety disorder which occurs after seeing or experiencing a traumatic event(s) that involve the threat of injury or death
Phobia intense, irrational fear of everyday objects or situations
Hypochondriasis a belief that physical symptoms are a sign of serious illness, even when there is no medical evidence to support the presence of an illness; unrealistic fear of having a serious disease

Supplements that support anxiety disorder and gut health
When diet is not enough and imbalances are severe, Functional Medicine Practitioners will prescribe supplements after a thorough assessment to determine the root causes of anxiety. Natural supplements will work to balance the neurotransmitters and other biochemical pathways of the body. Some useful supplements in the treatment of anxiety include:

Magnesium, calcium and GABA to calm the sympathetic nervous system
Vitamin C to support the adrenal glands
Activated B Complex to support overall mental health
Herbal medicine treatments

We often use herbal preparations to ease anxiety. Some of the most effective herbs to ease anxiety include:

Withania an adaptogen herb (a natural substance that increases your body's resistance to stress in non-specific ways) that helps the body adapt to stress and improve stamina for those suffering from lack of sleep.
Rhodoila also an adaptogen herb that improves symptoms of stress, such as fatigue, exhaustion and anxiety. It has also been shown to improve symptoms of burnout, which can occur with chronic stress.
Passionflower one variety of passionflower, Passiflora incarnata, can help treat anxiety, insomnia and certain forms of pain by increasing levels of GABA.

Author:Geoff Beaty
Tags:NewsResourcesCancerMental health

Associations

  • The Institute for Functional Medicine
  • Society for Integrative Oncology
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology
  • Australasian Integrative Medicine Association
  • Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia