Feeling anxious is an emotion that most people experience from time to time. In someone suffering from an anxiety disorder, the feeling of anxiousness is so overwhelming that it can interfere with their ability to lead a happy life. There are several types of anxiety disorders:
- Panic Disorder – People with this condition have feelings of terror that appear suddenly and repeatedly with no warning.
- Social Anxiety Disorder – Also called social phobia, this involves an overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about everyday social situations.
- Specific Phobias – These are intense fears about a specific object or situation, such as a fear of heights or enclosed spaces.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder – This is an excessive, unrealistic worry and constant tension, even if there is nothing to provoke anxiety.
The exact cause of anxiety disorders is still being studied, but researchers believe that many of these disorders are caused by a combination of factors, including changes in the brain and environmental stress. Studies have shown that severe or long-lasting stress can change the way nerve cells transmit information from one region of the brain to another. Other studies have shown that people with anxiety disorders have changes in certain brain structures that control memories linked with strong emotions, and trauma may trigger an anxiety disorder.
The Anti-Anxiety Vitamin
While there are several different approaches to treating anxiety, such as counseling, relaxation therapy, and dietary and lifestyle changes, many of those suffering from anxiety disorders resort to prescription medication. Recent research, however, has shown that there just may be an important vitamin missing from the diet of those who suffer from anxiety disorders.
Niacin, or Vitamin B3 is one of the water soluble B-complex vitamins. It’s essential for DNA repair, synthesis of steroidal hormones and energy metabolism. Niacin has the ability to relax the muscle tissue composing arteries, increasing their diameter — a process called vasodilation. This leads to increased blood flow and reduces blood pressure, and also raises HDL levels while reducing LDL levels to further improve cardiovascular health. In regards to anxiety, niacin acts as an antidote to adrenaline, which is often over-produced in those suffering from anxiety.
Some researchers believe that niacin may also help to reduce anxiety and depression, while promoting better sleep patterns. According to Biochemical, Physiological and Molecular Aspects of Human Nutrition, it’s possible that niacin’s ability to increase blood flow, reduce blood pressure, eliminate excess adrenaline and regulate hormones could contribute to feelings of relaxation, aiding in eliminating stress in those who suffer from anxiety disorders.
The recommended daily intake of niacin varies according to age and gender, so consult a health care professional before taking any supplement to be sure that it’s right for you.