Before we go onto vitamins to help with anxiety, let’s quickly remind ourselves of how anxiety manifests itself.
A fleeting, transient worry or fear may cause us to feel anxious. This mild anxiety is considered to be within the normal experiences which we all have from time to time. Anxiety can be triggered by situations such as performing for an audience, fear of flying or going into labor. Mild anxiety can be self-limiting and respond to simple life-style adjustment.
More severe, debilitating anxiety requires psychotherapy (talk therapy) and often requires the use of medication. Anxiety disorders refer to manifestation of a range of anxiety which does not go away.
In fact the symptoms can get worse over time and disrupt daily activities at home, in the workplace and social interactions.
Symptoms of anxiety disorder include:
• Rapid breathing
• Pounding heart rate
• Incoherent speech
• Frequent urination
• Muscle tension
• Chest pains
• Panic attacks
General anxiety disorder (GAD): is a chronic type of anxiety disorder whereby the individual is overcome with fear and worry about his/her health, family issues, situation at work and money concerns. For the purpose of this article this is the type of anxiety that could possibly benefit from vitamin therapy.
The other types namely; social anxiety disorder, phobias, panic attacks, post-traumatic stress disorder and compulsive –obsessive disorders require psychiatric assessment and management.
Treatment for mild cases of anxiety involves:
• Talk Therapy (Psychotherapy)
Psychotherapy involves talking with a registered health professional, such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, or counselor, to understand what caused the anxiety disorder and how best to deal with it.
• Hypnosis and self-hypnosis
• Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
CBT can be useful in treating anxiety disorders. The therapist helps anxious persons to change patterns of thinking which trigger their fears. Alternative thoughts and behaviors are shared to change the way they react to persons and situations which trigger anxiety episodes.
• Relaxation therapy
o Breathing exercise
• Life-style changes
o Stress management
o Adequate rest and sleep
o Exercise (aerobics and walking)
o Dietary changes (reducing or eliminating caffeine)
• Medications and vitamin supplementation
Vitamin Therapy to treat anxiety
Vitamins are essential nutrients which we must have daily to prevent diseases. There is growing interest among health professional to use vitamins to support the treatment of some diseases. There is insufficient evidence at his time to support the use of mega doses of vitamins as therapy. In fact some vitamins if use above the recommended daily dose can result in toxicity.
There is ongoing research on vitamin therapy for the treatment of mental and psychiatric disorders. The recommended vitamins for anxiety are: Vitamin B (B1, B3 and B6). It is further recommended that vitamin supplementation be used in the normal dose range. In addition to these vitamins minerals and antioxidants are also beneficial for anxiety.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
Thiamine is a vitamin used by the body to break down sugars in the diet. This medication is sometimes prescribed for nerve and heart problems.
Vitamin B3 (Riboflavin)
The body needs Riboflavin every day. It is water soluble and cannot be stored by the body. Riboflavin is essential for body growth, red blood cells and releases energy from protein. Good sources of Riboflavin are dairy product, eggs, green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts and organ meats such as liver and kidney.
Vitamin B4 (Niacin)
Niacin is a water-soluble B vitamin which helps the nerves to function and is important for healthy skin and the digestion system. It is naturally found in egg, poultry, milk, fish, rice legume peanuts and wheat products.
Supplementation with these vitamins has directions for use depending on the age and weight of individuals. It is important not to exceed the daily requirements for vitamins.
Important tips for the safe use of Vitamin Therapy
• Seek advice from you doctor before starting vitamin therapy
• Only use supplementation which have not expired with respect to the manufacturer’s advice
• Follow the direction given with respect to dosage
• Store vitamins in a cool dry area
• Should your symptoms worsen see your doctor without delay
Additional supplements to treat Anxiety
There are supplements which are neurotransmitter and neuromodulators which act at the level of the central nervous system as a depressant. Here are a few:
GABA: Gamma-Amino butyric Acid is a chemical which is produced in the brain. It is used to treat anxiety and ADHD
Taurine: This chemical is one of the building blocks for the production of proteins. It is an amino sulfonic acid. One of its uses is in the treatment of anxiety, insomnia and depression.
Glycine: This is an amino acid which is needed to form some protein enzymes. It also has neurotransmitter properties. One of its uses is as a sleep aid.
Foods that help to ease Anxiety
Foods rich in B vitamins include chicken, beef and pork. Other food sources are legumes, all types of green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, nuts, rice and eggs. Magnesium is essential for brain health and helps to treat anxiety. Spinach and chard are excellent sources of magnesium. Omega fatty acids reduce inflammatory conditions. Omega-3 fats food sources and supplements help in the treatment of anxiety.
When to seek professional help
It is time to seek help if you are unable to overcome feelings of anxiety even after trying lifestyle changes to relax, improve sleep, dietary changes, supplements and improved time management. Tell-tale signs of severe anxiety are:
• Persistent feelings of fear and worry
• Inability to function at home and work
• Harboring feeling of imminent terror or disaster
• Experiencing panic attacks
In addition to the lifestyle adjustment, relaxation therapy and psychotherapy the psychiatric will use medications called Anxiolytics. This group includes diazepam, lorazepam, Xanax, valium, librium, limbitrol and others. They are used to treat symptoms of acute anxiety. They can be habit-forming and should be used for short-term therapy. Many ignore the caution about short-term use and unfortunately end up being seriously addicted to the drug
-Written by a Third Party Doctor
References for Vitamins to Help with Anxiety
1. Nutrition and Vitamin Therapy, Lesser M: agris.fao.org
2. Vitamin Therapy in the Absence of Obvious Deficiency, Ovesen L
3. Current Status of Vitamin Therapy in Nervous and Mental Disease, Peterman.A Robert and Goodhart.S.Robert,
4. Anxiolytics, Pietrangelo Ann. http://www.healthline.com/health/anxiolytics
5. Anxiolytics, Benzodiazepines. Medscape reference. Reference.medscape.com.
6. Anxiety Disorders – Guide to the different types of anxiety disorders, their symptoms, and how to get help. (National Institute of Mental Health)
7. Anxiety & Panic Attacks Symptoms – Extensive list of the signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders and anxiety attacks. (National Panic & Anxiety Disorder News)
8. Treatment options for anxiety attacks and anxiety disorders
9. Anxiety Treatment Options – Article looks at the many treatment options for anxiety, including exercise and breathing techniques. (Better Health Channel)
10. What are the Psychotherapeutic and Other Non-Drug Approaches to Anxiety Disorder? – Overview of therapies and complementary treatments for anxiety. (University of Maryland Medical Center)
11. Complementary treatments for anxiety attacks and anxiety disorders
12. Progressive Muscle Relaxation – Step by step guide to progressive muscle relaxation for the reduction of anxiety. (A Guide to Psychology and its Practice)
13. NIH: National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health