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Nutrition & Lifestyle Issues

8/5/2013

Anxiety sufferers are advised to pay attention to dietary and lifestyle factors which can aggravate anxiety (Andrews, Creamer, Crino, Hunt, Lampe & Page, 2003).

Caffeine
Avoid or limit caffeine. Chocolate, some high energy drinks, hot chocolate beverages, coffee, tea & cola drinks all contain caffeine, a stimulant which accelerates the fight or flight response. Caffeine can interfere with your sleep and make you more nervous. Switch to decaffeinated coffee, herbal tea and/or decaffeinated cola drinks, or reduce the number of cups of coffee/cola you have.

Alcohol
Alcohol can aggravate anxiety. People with anxiety are often tempted to drink alcohol before and/or during social engagements as it initially decreases anxiety. However, after alcohol has been in your system for a few hours it acts as a stimulant, making you more likely to hyperventilate and putting you at increased risk of having a panic attack.

Smoking
Try to quit smoking or at least reduce the number of cigarettes you have. Nictotine, like caffeine, is a stimulant which accelerates the fight or flight response. Unfortunately, many anxious people smoke before or during social events and this will only increase your anxiety. A mental health practitioner can assist you to cease smoking and information on how to stop smoking is available from QUIT.

Sleep
Try to get a good night’s sleep. Being overly tired can make you more anxious and increase the likelihood of you having a panic attack.

Suppressing Anger
Endeavour to express your anger (1) in an assertive way and (2) as soon as possible after a negative event, as pent up anger increases your level of stress (Andrews et al,1994).

Rectreational Drugs
Cocaine, marijuana and amphetamines can increase anxiety levels and lead to users having panic attacks (Burns,1999).

You must not rely on the information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. No assurance can be given that the information on this site will always include the most recent developments or research with respect to a particular topic.
Andrews, G., Creamer, M.,  Crino, R., Hunt,C., Lampe, L., & Page, A. (2004). The Treatment of Anxiety Disorders. Second Edition. Cambridge, England. Cambridge University Press

Burns,D.D. (1999). The Feeling Good Handbook. New York. New York. Plume.

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