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Anxiety

Anxiety is characterized by feelings of excessive tension and worry, and is distinct from fear in that it's persistent, future-focused, and intrusive. There are many types of anxiety disorders, including generalized, social anxiety, phobias, obsessive-compulsive, and panic disorder.

Our evidence-based analysis on anxiety features 42 unique references to scientific papers.

Research analysis led by .
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Summary of Anxiety

Primary Information, Benefits, Effects, and Important Facts

Generalized anxiety disorder is a persistent feeling of excessive tension and worry. It's distinct from common fear in that it's future-oriented, persistent, intrusive, and general, whereas fear may be transient, present-focused, and specific, abating as soon as the perceived threat has passed. Alternatively, social anxiety disorder is this excessive tension and worry about normal social situations, which is less potent when not faced with triggering social interactions but may still persist with the mere thought of said interactions.

Other anxiety disorders include obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is focused around a compulsive activity, post-traumatic stress disorder, which is focused around a previous traumatic experience, phobias, which are focused on a particular irrational trigger of fear, and panic disorder, which is characterized by sudden and unexpected episodes of extreme panic, and usually don't last very long.

Anxiety is, to some extent, an excessive and poorly regulated fear response, which has its roots in dysfunctional brain and endocrine activity and thus could be diminished through foods and supplements. Foods and supplements that affect anxiety may do so through being or affecting the production of neurotransmitters and hormones involved in the fear response, affecting receptors, ion channels, synaptic plasticity, and more.

Anxiety is largely measured through a variety of questionnaires designed to assess the severity of symptoms. It may be assessed through behavioral means by trained observers, or by neuroimaging, but those are less common in research.

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Human Effect Matrix

The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (it excludes animal and in vitro studies) to tell you what supplements affect anxiety.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Supplement Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-a Notable Very High See all 8 studies
Appears to be quite reliable and effective in treating non-psychotic anxiety, with less reliability on the topic of generalized anxiety (which lavender shows some promise for). It is possible that long-term usage of kava may have similar side-effects as long term usage of benzodiazepines (note demonstrated, but wholly logical) and most studies on kava are of a few weeks in duration without any problems.
grade-b Notable Very High See all 6 studies
Evidence suggests potent anxiolytic effects in the context of chronic stress and anxiety disorder, with lesser potency in standard forms of anxiety not related to stress. There may be more benefit to social anxiety as well with Ashwagandha relative to other anxiolytics. More high-quality studies are needed to get an accurate assessment of how effective it is and the optimal dose.
grade-b Notable Very High See all 4 studies
There appears to be a decrease in anxiety symptoms associated with high dose inositol, and it has been noted to be comparable to fluvoxamine in potency.

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Frequently Asked Questions and Articles on Anxiety

How eating better can make you happier
Food and supplements that can help fight stress, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and help you sleep better.
Does chewing gum offer any health benefits?
Chewing gum can provide health benefits ranging from improved oral health to reduced hunger and stress levels, but for some people these are balanced out by possible downsides such as increased headaches.
Click here to see all 42 references.