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Can Vitamin Supplements Treat Symptoms of Anxiety?

Overview

Anxiety can take many forms in your life depending on the situation. Some people only ever experience temporary anxiety, such as before a test or a date. Other people, though, experience regular, excessive anxiety that affects their daily lives. This condition is known as general anxiety disorder (GAD).

Did you know?
Approximately 6.8 million adults are living with general anxiety order (GAD), and women are twice as likely as men to have this condition.

Anxiety is often treated with a combination of talk therapy and prescription medication. Some research, though, suggests that vitamins may help treat this condition. Keep reading to learn more about the connection between vitamins and anxiety.  

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Vitamins and anxiety

Can vitamin supplements treat anxiety?

In recent years, doctors have tried to understand if there is a connection between vitamins and anxiety disorders. Some studies have noted that low levels of certain vitamins may be a risk factor for anxiety. One study found a connection between low levels of vitamin D and anxiety. Another study found a possible correlation between lower levels of vitamins A, C, and E and anxiety.

Some researchers have used vitamins to try to treat anxiety, with varying levels of success. One study found that the use of vitamin supplements by the general population made it too difficult to come to any conclusions about whether vitamin supplementation could be used as an effective treatment.

Another study saw some improvement to anxiety levels when vitamin supplementation was introduced. In that study, people who received vitamin supplementation, in addition to antidepressant and antianxiety medication, saw the greatest improvement in anxiety levels. This led researchers to suggest that vitamin supplements should be used in addition to traditional methods. But the study size was small and conducted over a short amount of time.

The connection between anxiety and vitamin deficiency is not well understood and studies have been inconsistent. More research is needed to determine if there is a link between anxiety and vitamin supplementation.

Treatment

What other treatments are available?

Psychotherapy will likely be your first line of treatment for anxiety. You’ll work with a therapist and talk about your anxiety. They will help you understand your anxiety and provide you with tools to manage it and overcome it.

You and your doctor may also decide to use a prescription medication besides psychotherapy. Medication can be used to help treat the symptoms of anxiety. But it may take weeks or months to feel a difference in your symptoms.

It’s important to keep all your doctor appointments so that your doctor can check your dosage and your body’s response to the medication.  

While you may be able to improve your symptoms through vitamin supplementation and lifestyle changes, you doctor should oversee your treatment.

Learn more: Drugs to treat anxiety disorder »

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Lifestyle changes

What lifestyle changes can be used to treat anxiety?

You may be able to control or improve your anxiety with lifestyle changes.

Massage therapy may help reduce symptoms of anxiety.

Regular physical activity has been shown to reduce the risk for mental health disorders, including anxiety.

Meditation, yoga, and deep breathing may reduce feelings of anxiety, though more research is needed.

Eat a nutritious, balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables, protein, and whole grains. Research suggests that diet may have an effect on mental health, including feelings of anxiety.

Avoid stimulating substances, like caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol. They can make you feel more anxious.

Often lifestyle changes alone are not enough to treat anxiety, but they can be an important part to a successful treatment plan.

Symptoms

What are the symptoms of GAD?

Symptoms of GAD can vary depending upon the level of your anxiety disorder, but common symptoms include:

  • heart palpitations
  • excessive sweating
  • restlessness during the day and at night
  • difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
  • feeling loss of control over situations
  • muscle tension
  • extreme fear of a location, specific people, or situation
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Diagnosis

How is anxiety diagnosed?

Make an appointment to see your doctor if you suspect you have an anxiety disorder. Your doctor will give you an exam and then ask about any symptoms you’ve experienced. Make sure that you have a detailed list all of your symptoms and when you noticed them.

Your doctor will also want to know what is going in your personal life, such as if you’ve made any changes in work or lifestyle. Also, they’ll want to know how long you’ve been feeling anxious. Has it been for a short period, such as a few days, or has it been weeks or months? These questions will help your doctor understand your condition. Your doctor will also ask you about your immediate family and if you know of anyone in your family who has had an anxiety disorder.

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Talk to your doctor

Talking to your doctor about using vitamins for anxiety

Talk to your doctor about vitamin therapy if you think it may help your symptoms. They will review your case and make suggestions for what will work best for you.

Follow your doctor’s recommended treatment plan. See your doctor as recommended, and let them know if your anxiety isn’t improving or is getting worse. That will help them determine if adjustments need to be made to your treatment plan.

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Outlook

Outlook

You can live a normal life with an anxiety diagnosis.

Talk with your doctor and therapist about how you can identify your triggers and how to best avoid them. If your triggers are unavoidable, work with your doctor to find ways to deal with them.

Exercise is a healthy way to help relax your nerves and find relief from muscle tension and pain.

Practice a healthy sleep routine. Adequate sleep may help reduce symptoms of anxiety.

Meditation, deep breathing, or other relaxation techniques can quiet your mind and maybe improve your symptoms.

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