“Repairing the Toll of Uncertainty”

pensive biracial man having problem

The title of this blog is actually the title of an article from the current issue of Psychology Today (July 2020), written by Hara Estroff Marano, that I am hoping will resonate with my readers as much as it did me.

She begins by saying, “If anxiety thrives on uncertainty, then 2020 has already captured the title of the Year of Anxiety.”

She says that a certain amount of anxiety is adaptive which then helps us to do what we need to do to maintain self-protective measures, but that that the scale of the pandemic has created so many abrupt and devastating changes and has elicited so many unanswerable questions that we are in a place of extreme, excessive anxiety as a society as well as in our individual lives.

She shares some interesting neuroscience about anxiety, stating that, “For all its ability to challenge our attempts to control it, anxiety nevertheless sustains life.”

She goes on to share from author and spine surgeon David Hanscom who goes on to explain that anxiety  “… is a bodyguard, a neurochemical signal of danger, and it is meant to be unpleasant in order to compel you to take action to lower the neural hormones doing the signaling. When you can’t escape the threat— whether it’s a physical one or simply the product of your own thoughts— your body secretes even more stress hormones in an effort to increase your chance of survival. If sustained, that wreaks havoc on physical and mental health. The anxiety becomes more like a prison guard.”

Young woman with anxiety and fears worrying about her problems

In addition to recommending some of the standard approaches to managing and reducing anxiety such as relaxation strategies, he talks about how important it is to strengthen the nervous system by incorporating B vitamins in one’s daily routine because they have been shown to help reduce anxiety.

The B vitamins he recommends are: B1, Thiamine; B2, Riboflavin; B3, Niacin; B5, Pantothenic Acid; B6, Pyridoxine; B7, Biotin, B9, Folate and B12, Cobalamin. Each one of these does something to minimize or reduce the effects of the stress hormones of anxiety. Apparently used in combination with each other, they are a powerful antidote to anxiety or at least can substantially reduce it.

I certainly am not recommending anyone go out and purchase any of these without doing your own personal research and checking with your medical professional, but I thought it was interesting that these vitamins can impact mood and mental health. “The eight vitamins that make up the group share roles as cofactors in metabolic processes, many of them essential to brain operations, from energy production and DNA maintenance to the synthesis of neural signaling compounds. Since the roles are interrelated and they work in concert, adequate levels of all eight are needed for optimal neurological functioning.”

3D Illustration of Human Brain Neurons structure. A high resolution.

Marano also includes in the article that we need to protect our gut microbiome because, “A lack of beneficial bacteria in the gut has been linked to many aspects of mental health, notably resistance to depression and anxiety. Stress triggers an inflammatory response in the gut, and agents released by the gut travel to the brain, where the resulting neural inflammation exacerbates anxiety.”

We are in varying states of anxiety as the days and months go on in this time of the pandemic along with all the other crises being faced by our society that are impacting our individual and family lives. Researching some ways to use vitamins and other homeopathic approaches to reducing the neurochemicals of anxiety offers some practical approaches that could have a positive impact on both our mental and physical health. In addition to staying well-informed about maintaining our health, this article brings some helpful information we can benefit from.

 Invitation for Reflection

  1. Have you ever considered the quote in this article that anxiety sustains life?
  2. What about some of the points the spine surgeon makes about the importance of certain B vitamins resonates with you? Does it inspire you to do some research?
  3. What are some of the things you can do physiologically to help the negative impact of the neurochemicals of anxiety?

Diane Wagenhals, Program Director, Lakeside Global Institute