Chemical Imbalances & Anxiety Disorders
What Does It Mean to Have A Chemical Imbalance?
Someone has a chemical imbalance when they have too much or too little of any substance that helps the body function normally. In most cases, having a chemical imbalance means having an excessive or insufficient amount of neurotransmitters (serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine) in the brain. When someone has a balanced amount of neurotransmitters, their brain is more likely to function normally. But when they have a chemical imbalance, they are more susceptible to certain effects and medical conditions.
Effects of Chemical Imbalances
Even though chemical imbalances are different for everyone that experiences them, there are some general symptoms to pay attention to. Imbalances develop slowly and over time, so it may be hard to identify or recognize. Therefore, those who believe they may have a chemical imbalance should look out for the following symptoms and side effects:
- Loss of appetite or overeating
- Feelings of sadness
- Sense of impending danger
- Lack of energy
- Lack of empathy
- Distancing from others
- Extreme mood changes
- Difficulty with day-to-day activities
- Issues with concentrating
- Drug or alcohol misuse or abuse
Chemical imbalances are also closely associated with mental illnesses like depression and different forms of anxiety. This means, essentially, that many individuals with a chemical imbalance may also experience a mental health condition such as anxiety. But how closely are chemical imbalances and anxiety actually connected?
The Association Between Anxiety & A Chemical Imbalance
“Anxiety” is an umbrella term that defines several anxiety disorders such as GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) or PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). Anxiety is a very complex mental illness that is different for everyone, but it can lead to general symptoms like nightmares, repeated thoughts or flashbacks, uncontrollable thoughts, panic & fear, uneasiness, heart palpitations, nausea, shortness of breath, cold or sweaty hands, muscle tension, and more.
Even though chemical imbalances could certainly contribute to anxiety, it doesn’t necessarily cause it. There is also no solid evidence to determine that a chemical imbalance could be the direct cause of an anxiety disorder. In reality, the development of mental health conditions is a lot more complex. While a chemical imbalance is one influence of anxiety, there are many other contributing factors as well. Other influences of anxiety could include genetics, faulty mood regulation in the brain, medications, medical problems, and stressful life events.
Managing and Treating A Chemical Imbalance
It is difficult to determine when someone has a chemical imbalance because the symptoms are similar to those of other disorders. And since a chemical balance develops over time, it may take a while to diagnose. However, patience is key. It is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you believe that you have a chemical imbalance.
Once a doctor or psychologist determines that someone has a chemical imbalance, they can prescribe a medication that blocks reabsorption and changes chemical levels. They may also recommend different types of therapy, counseling, or support meetings. Other natural treatments for a chemical imbalance that may increase serotonin levels include meditation, yoga, and light exercise.
To learn more about chemical imbalances and its connection to anxiety and how this can coincide with addiction, call us here 267.719.8528.