There exists to this day an underlying thought that ‘mental’ health and ‘physical’ health are two separate entities. That a disorder involving the mind is independent from an ailment within the body. Even in the advancing medical age we live in, there remains a stigma on certain symptoms of disease that fall into the realm of mental health. ‘Anxiety’ is one of these conditions.
I have dealt with ‘free floating anxiety’ (or Generalized Anxiety Disorder) for many years. Even typing that last sentence causes me to feel a certain level of shame. We have been conditioned to see those who struggle with these issues as weak, deficient, or ‘worry wallowers’. I have been told many times that, “It’s a choice”, “Think about something else”, or “There is a part of you that must ‘enjoy’ worrying”. I won’t deny that there are times when I let my thoughts run toward the doom and gloom. But often, there is something that precedes this. A feeling of ‘fear’ and ‘unease’ not attached to any immediate threat or circumstance. That is the definition of ‘free floating anxiety’.
As my FMS has increased in severity, the anxiety has worsened as well. Am I just lacking in moral fiber? Just not ‘tough’ enough? I think not. In fact, there are valid, physiological reasons that may be behind the symptoms associated with anxiety in those who have Fibromyalgia.
Two neurotransmitters that help to stimulate brain cells (Glutamate), and cause a calming effect in the brain (GABA) have been found to be out of whack in FMS patients. Fibromyalgia suffers have often shown high levels of glutamate, and lower levels of GABA, thus giving a logical reason behind the anxiety factor. There are studies that show that manipulating these neurotransmitters may help those with FMS. Not only with anxiety, but also with pain levels.
Of course, the human body and brain are impossibly complex organisms. Reasons behind struggling with mental and physical health issues are manifold. I am simply putting forth a snippet of information that will hopefully shed a little light on one of the many symptoms we experience with FMS. For someone who thrives under ‘reasons and explanations’, I know it has helped me.
Below is list of foods and supplements that have been shown to aid in lowering glutamate levels and raising the level of GABA in the brain:
- Whole Wheat
- Olive Oil
- Cherry Tomatoes
- L-Theanine~ found in tea leaves. Believed to be the reason why tea has a ‘calming effect’ in spite of containing caffeine.
- Valerian~ a medicinal herb thought to increase levels of GABA. (make take up to three weeks for effect)
Painting: The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse