Good health is not just about physical health, but about mental health. Usually, good mental health accompanies good physical health; the Romans used to have an expression for this: mens sana in corpore sano, or a sound mind in a healthy body. Nevertheless, sometimes the brain and the mind can go awry even in a healthy body, one of the ways being when anxiety manifests itself. If you have anxiety to the point that it bothers you, there are several things that one can do, like the following.
1. Watch your caffeine intake.
This seems elementary, yet even most doctors won’t ask about caffeine intake when a patient comes to him with a complaint of anxiety. Yet it appears that people with an anxiety disorder have increased sensitivity to caffeine. If too much caffeine is ingested, caffeine intoxication may result. There are case reports of increase suicidal tendencies with excessive caffeine consumption.
Excessive caffeine consumption is also linked with depression, anxiety, and psychosis. (The subject in this paper was drinking a hell of a lot of coffee.)
This would be the first thing I’d look at if I were suffering from anxiety. Those Starbucks coffees can have a huge amount of caffeine, and if you add energy drinks or even soda to that, you could be consuming way more caffeine than you think. Cut back on it. Consider drinking tea instead of coffee; that way you can still get a mild caffeine boost without overdoing it.
Anxiety is closely associated with depression, and exercise has been found to be a good way of dealing with both. In a cross-sectional study, those who exercised were found to be less prone to anxiety and depression. Exercise can also be used to treat anxiety, since exercise is a profound anxiolytic.
So it appears that exercise over a longer time period results in less anxiety, and that an acute bout of exercise relieves anxiety. Furthermore, being sedentary is associated with more anxiety and depression.
Low magnesium intake is associated with anxiety and depression. In animals, magnesium deficiency reliably induces anxiety-like behavior. Magnesium also appears to have a role in the etiology of major depression.
If you suffer from anxiety, a trial of magnesium citrate wouldn’t be a bad idea at around 400 mg magnesium a day. (Anyone with impaired kidney function should see a doctor before supplementing with magnesium.)
I’ve covered this cheap, safe, and over-the-counter supplement in a number of blog posts. Suffice it here to say that is has efficacy in depression, an appears that it may be useful for anxiety as well.