Did you know that anxiety disorders affect about 40 million people in the United States? This group of mental illnesses is perhaps the most common in the country.
However, it is unfortunate that despite the shocking statistics, only 36.9 percent of the sufferers receive proper treatment.
Anxiety disorders are characterized by fear, nervousness, apprehension, and worry. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), anxiety is an emotion that involves feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure.
It is important to note here that not all anxiety is bad – in potentially dangerous and worrying situations, anxiety is, in fact, necessary for survival. Furthermore, the feeling of anxiety and stress before an important event or in a difficult situation is also normal only if it is not out of proportion. If the duration or severity of anxiety is not justified by the original stressor or trigger, it is a red flag.
An anxiety disorder is when an individual experiences recurring intrusive thoughts and concerns over something that normally does not call for such a strong reaction.
Anxiety manifests itself in the form of some physical symptoms, which can be disturbing and unsettling.
First things first, it is important to distinguish between stress and anxiety, as many people often confuse one with the other.
In short, stress is your body’s reaction to a real or perceived trigger and usually does not stay for long. On the other hand, anxiety is a mental health disorder that hangs around for the long-term and causes significant impairments in all areas of life. Interestingly, stress is often the culprit that triggers anxiety.
First, let us see how stress affects the different aspects of life, including physical health, emotional health, cognition, and behaviors.
Below are some common symptoms of stress:
- Frequent headaches
- Disturbed sleep
- Back or neck pain
- Dizziness, light-headedness, or faintness
- Excessive worry
- Sweaty palms and/or feet
- Difficulty swallowing
- Rapid heart rate
- Muscle tension
- Poor concentration and focus
- Low energy
- Feeling overwhelmed
- Loss of sexual interest
- It improves anxiety and sleep
- Aids weight loss and improves the HGH levels
- It has anxiolytic effects that help in reduce stress
If you experience any of these symptoms, you are likely to be stressed. If they do not go on their own after some time, you may be suffering from anxiety.
Although all anxiety disorders have a distinct set of symptoms, here are some common physical symptoms of anxiety.
- Recurring or persistent feelings of fear and worry, with or without a known stressor/s
- Increased or irregular heartbeat
- Restlessness and irritability
- Back pain
- Muscle tension
- Avoidance of situations that may cause worry or nervousness, affecting the quality of life
- Being easily startled
Following are the four common types of anxiety disorders.
1. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
Does GABA work for anxiety?
Generalized anxiety disorder is perhaps the most common type of anxiety disorders. This chronic disorder involves excessive and long-lasting feelings of worry and anxiety about non-specific situations, objects, or life events. What makes GAD worse is that the sufferers are usually unable to identify the cause of their anxiety.
2. Social anxiety disorder
Individuals suffering from social anxiety disorder are afraid of public embarrassment and fear that people will negatively judge them in social situations. They experience a range of feelings, such as stage fright, a fear of humiliation, and a fear of intimacy. These individuals are likely to avoid social situations and human contact to the point where the quality of their life is greatly affected.
3. Panic disorder
Panic disorder involves sudden attacks of intense terror and apprehension. A panic attack leads to shaking, dizziness, nausea, confusion, and breathing difficulties. Usually, panic attacks escalate rapidly and peak after 10 minutes. They tend to be brief but can last for hours in some cases.
Although frightening experiences or excessive, prolonged stress is usually the reason behind the occurring of a panic attack, sometimes there seem to be no trigger.
Individuals suffering from a panic disorder tend to misinterpret it as a life-threatening disorder. They may change their behavior drastically to avoid a future attack.
4. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
OCD is an anxiety disorder in which the sufferer experiences repetitive, distressing, and intrusive thoughts or actions. The sufferers seem to have no control over these compulsions even if they know that they are not real and are irrational. The compulsions, however, help alleviate their anxiety. OCD sufferers may wash their hands obsessively or check the locks, light switches, or stoves constantly.
You have probably heard about GABA for its beneficial effects on anxiety symptoms. But do you know what GABA really is?
GABA or Gamma-aminobutyric acid is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for the transmission of messages between the brain and the nervous system. It is the chief inhibitory neurotransmitter in your brain and therefore, it acts as a powerful anxiolytic.
As far as the production of GABA is concerned, glutamate is responsible for it – and the active form of vitamin B6 and the enzyme glutamate decarboxylase (GDA) serve as the catalysts.
The primary function of this neurotransmitter is to decrease the activity level of nerve cells in the nervous system. There is a wealth of research indicating that GABA could help treat conditions, such as anxiety, depression, and stress.
GABA has a natural calming effect. It decreases the excitability of neurons and hence, reduces the feelings of anxiety and fear.
People commonly use GABA as a supplement to improve sleep, boost mood, and ease premenstrual symptoms.
GABA is a vital neurotransmitter that has several positive effects on your health, including physical and emotional stability.
The most important function of GABA involves the regulation and restriction of neuroelectric activity. Without GABA, the electric impulses in your brain would run out of control and result in seizures.
Another key function of this neurotransmitter is to relieve anxiety. When you are in pain or feeling afraid or stressed, certain groups of neurons become hyperactive and start firing too frequently. GABA at this point calms the neurons and brings them down to a lower level of stimulation. In this way, it promotes the feelings of relaxation and sooth and steps in to wipe your tears and fears away.
Can you guess the state in which you are the calmest and the most relaxed than you can ever be? You guessed it right – it is when you are sleeping! And this is exactly why sleep tops the priority list of GABA. As this neurotransmitter travels through the intricate network of cells in your brain, it sings a lullaby to each neuron. Your GABA levels tend to be the highest when you are sleeping.
You probably do not know that there is a ‘sleep switch’ deep in your brain. It is basically a cluster of cells called the ventrolateral preoptic nucleus (VLPO). About 80% of the cells that constitute the VLPO specialize in the GABA transmission. The sleep switch starts the series of events that indicate that it is bedtime to initiate sleep. GABA is responsible for maintaining the internal body clock that sets circadian rhythms.
There is no doubt about the fact that sleep is the key to maintaining an optimal health. A good sleep routine makes your immune system strong so that it may fight off all viruses and other harmful substances. GABA promotes sound sleep and this, in turn, facilitates the production of human growth hormone and cytokines. The growth hormone is necessary for the repair and rebuilding of your body, and cytokines are the proteins that protect you against inflammation.
In addition to this, GABA promotes the female reproductive functions. This is perhaps due to the syncing of the hormonal clocks with the body clock.
Lastly, GABA plays a major role in learning and memory. It is abundantly found in the hippocampus region of the brain, which is the center of memory formation. Research also suggests that it helps in the reshaping of the neural connections in the brain.
Eating a healthy, nutritious diet that is rich in GABA-packed foods is perhaps the simplest way of boosting your GABA levels in the body, The common GABA producing foods include wheat germ, mackerel, brown rice, beef liver, broccoli, and almonds.
Furthermore, in the quest of finding a GABA supplement that can effectively cross over the blood-brain barrier, you may come across two supplements that are beneficial GABAergic compounds, namely lemon balm and L-Theanine.
Both these supplements are similar when it comes to their mechanism of action and benefits. However, they do have certain differences. There is scientific evidence that these supplements are able to penetrate through the barrier to reach the brain so that GABA receptors may use them.
The right dosage depends on a number of factors, such as age, gender, and weight. Before you begin GABA supplemFollowing are the four common types of anxiety disorders. your doctor or a medical professional to make sure it is right for you.
It is also important to understand that you may have to go through a certain period of trial and error of GABA supplementation before you find a ‘sweet spot’ that can allow you to enjoy the benefits you want without experiencing any negative side effects.
How much gaba should i take?
For anxiety, most people begin with a small dose of 250 mg daily, taken 2-3 times throughout the day. The recommended GABA dosage for reducing anxiety levels ranges from 250 mg to 650 mg three times each day – this makes a total daily dosage of 750 mg to 1950 mg.
To see the best results, you should start with a low dose and gradually work your way up there to make sure that your body tolerates the supplement well. This will also help you in finding the best dosage range for you.
How much gaba is safe to take?
Make sure you do not drive or operate other equipment until you are sure of the effects this supplement has or does not have on you. Stick to the initial dose for at least 3 days before you increase the dosage so that your system can adjust to it. The best way to increase your daily dose is by adding in 50 mg and sticking with the new dose for at least 2-3 days. But remember, 650 mg is the limit you would not want to cross!
Moreover, if you experience any adverse effects, consider decreasing your dosage and consult with your doctor if the symptoms do not go away.
There are countless user reviews for GABA supplement, which report positive effects on the health and wellbeing.
For most users, a GABA supplement has proved to be a safe and effective way to combat different health conditions. The users report that this supplement works wonders for anxiety, stress, and sleep problems. Taking the right dosage before bedtime helps them sleep better and they wake up as fresh as a daisy with reduced anxiety, and focused and clear thoughts.
Other users who take GABA supplement in the day to reduce their anxiety refer to it as a magic pill. It not only calms them down and lowers their anxiety levels but it also does not make them feel drowsy and sleepy.
All in all, users do not regret taking this supplement for treating their anxiety. If your anxiety is also making life difficult for you and nothing seems to work when it comes to reducing it, a GABA supplement may be the ray of hope you are looking for!
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- The Effects of Magnesium Supplementation on Subjective Anxiety and Stress—A Systematic Review