Are you struggling with blue moods and feeling totally stressed out? Are you feeling more anxious about things that never used to bother you in the past? Are you having trouble getting a good night’s sleep? And have you lost your usual sense of calm? Well, it may not be just a sign of the times, it could be brain imbalances that have come from poor gut health.
You may have gone to your primary care doctor to discuss your anxious feelings and without really exploring what’s going on with you, the old prescription pad comes out and your doctor suggests you try anti-anxiety meds.
That’s disappointing, isn’t it? You don’t want another band-aid for your health problems. You want real solutions. You may already know this, but the long-term use of these medications can be dangerous to your gut health.
Serotonin– that is mostly produced in the gut– can cause specific gut bacteria to actually increase causing an imbalance in your gut microbiome. But if you take an SSRI drug like Prozac, the bacteria grows to much lower levels.
You can see that the conventional approach to treating anxiety doesn’t do your brain or your gut any favors. It also overlooks the outside environmental factors that can actually harm your brain-gut balance.
Anxiety causes you to feel stressed and when you’re stressed, our adrenal glands secrete cortisol. Cortisol can cause an increase in gut motility with bouts of diarrhea. The gut-brain axis is a two-way street, the gut and the brain are intimately connected.
Did you know that the excessive cortisol from anxiety could actually harm your brain by causing brain nerve cells to shrink? That’s terrifying.
When a new patient comes to see me at Healing Unleashed, I explore a very detailed history and physical exam to see what the root causes are for their anxiety and I have to spend sufficient time for this initial interview.
If it is warranted, I may recommend an EEG, which is an electroencephalogram, to see if there are areas of dysfunction in the brainwave patterns. And also, I address their diet and nutritional status and may recommend a stool analysis to evaluate gut bacteria.
Without doing both, it’s really hard to help the patient find balance again and decrease their level of anxiety. In functional medicine, I don’t just reach for the prescription pad, but I explore lifestyle issues with the patient.
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