Anxiety/Panic Attacks

If the thoughts and feelings that go in are mainly negative, the brain processes this and often will draw fearful and anxious conclusions.

by Dr. Larry Wilson — 

Anxiety is a very uncomfortable feeling of nervousness, irritability or foreboding about the future. Panic attacks, also known as anxiety attacks, are sudden drastic increases in anxiety to the point where one may have trouble breathing, muscles tighten, the pulse rate increases, and one may collapse or even urinate or defecate without control.

Causes of anxiety

The basic causes of anxiety are:

1. Biochemical imbalances — These imbalances play an important role but are not well understood by most medical and psychological professionals. They are discussed in detail below.

2. Improper ways of thinking — The brain functions much like a computer. If the thoughts and feelings that go in are mainly negative, the brain processes this and often will draw fearful and anxious conclusions. For this reason, dwelling on fear, foreboding, negative self-image, horror, grief or despair is a major cause of anxiety and panic attacks.

Other contributing negative thinking habits include second-guessing oneself, questioning one’s own motives and/or continuous self-doubt.

3. Improper diet and/or lifestyle — This is a major cause of anxiety and feelings of panic in some people. How to correct this problem is discussed later in this article.

4. Stress — The negative effects of stress on the body are well known. Any stressful situation can set off a fight-or-flight reaction in the body, activating the sympathetic nervous system. This tends to increase the heart rate, blood pressure and blood sugar level and cause other effects that may all contribute to feelings of anxiety. For example, as Americans continue to lose control of their health care system this may cause all of us much more anxiety in the future.

Improving the diet and overall health will help anyone handle more stress without anxiety. This is one reason why healthy people can handle stress much better than others.

5. Other — Chiropractic misalignments, electromagnetic stress from the overuse of cell phones and/or computers, and other factors can contribute to anxiety and panic attacks.

Associated biochemical imbalances 

Some significant biochemical causes of anxiety are:

Fatigue and adrenal burnout — Fatigue alone can cause anxiety. The feeling arises because the body does not have the energy to cope with stress. This is a common and often overlooked cause of anxiety. If fatigue alone is the problem, a few nights of great sleep will solve it. If one has adrenal exhaustion or “burnout” (so called because vital minerals are literally gone or burned out of the body), then a more intense nutritional-balancing program is required to correct it. Once the body comes into balance, the anxious and panicky feelings will begin to disappear, and one will be able to handle stress of all kinds.

An alarm stage of stress — This is a state of the body’s autonomic nervous system in which the body is constantly geared up in preparation to fight or run away. It is like being in emergency mode all of the time. The nervous system is hypersensitive and reacts to the smallest stimulation, often overreacting, causing anxiety and possibly a panic attack.

In terms of body chemistry, the tissue calcium and magnesium levels decrease, as does zinc. Calcium, magnesium and zinc are known as the sedative minerals. With lower levels of these three minerals in the tissues, the body becomes very prone to feelings of anxiety.

Some people live this way much of the time. It may be due to chronic or acute stress, nutritional deficiencies, or an improper diet or lifestyle. Regardless of the reason, this state of body chemistry strongly predisposes one to feelings of anxiety and to panic attacks.

A sluggish metabolic rate — This condition, although opposite of the condition above, can also be anxiety producing — often in the extreme. Reasons for this include:

  1. A deficiency of biologically available calcium and magnesium. This can cause the same symptoms as a calcium and/or magnesium deficiency.
  2. Excess copper in the tissues, which occurs with a slow oxidation rate.
  3. Very low energy and, thus, difficulty coping with stress. The person may not even be aware of how little energy he or she has. However, life becomes difficult and the slightest stress can throw one into feelings of anxiety and panic.
  4. High levels of toxic metals such as mercury, cadmium, nickel or lead. These accumulate when the metabolic or oxidation rate is slow because the body cannot properly eliminate them.

Copper imbalance — In my experience, this is the most common cause of panic attacks. Excess copper in the tissues enhances the production of stimulatory neurotransmitters and appears to stimulate the activity of the diencephalon, which is also called the “animal brain” or the “emotional brain.” This causes enhanced emotions — often anxiety or feelings of panic.

Specific toxic metals in excess — This is a very common but greatly overlooked cause of feelings of anxiety. While well understood by toxicologists, this knowledge has not filtered down to the medical and psychological professions to any great extent. Millions of people have too much lead, cadmium, mercury, nickel and toxic forms of iron and manganese in their bodies. These settle in various parts of the brain, irritate the nervous system and often contribute to anxiety. They also can replace the sedative minerals, calcium, magnesium and zinc, upsetting the normal ways our bodies relax.

Hypoglycemia — Episodes of low or fluctuating blood sugar are common causes of anxiety. When the blood sugar level becomes too low, the brain literally begins to starve for fuel. Many people have experienced the anxiety that can accompany low blood sugar. One usually becomes very hungry, almost desperate for food. One can easily become shaky, weak, confused and panicky in this condition. If this is the cause of the anxiety, it will go away in a few minutes simply by eating something sweet.

At least half the American population experiences low blood sugar, often due to an improper diet and/or lifestyle. Cutting out all sweet foods and eating protein with some fat every three or four hours can help prevent this cause of anxiety. Removing underlying causes, which are mineral imbalances involving zinc, chromium and manganese, takes more effort.

Nutrient deficiencies — The nervous system requires several dozen minerals, vitamins, fatty acids and amino acids to function properly. Deficiencies of nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins A, B-complex, C, D3 and E are rampant, especially if one eats any refined foods. Poor eating habits, such as eating on the run, also interfere with nutrient absorption and can lead to nutrient deficiencies.

Inflammation — Anxiety and panic attacks are inflamed states of the brain and can be caused by a state of inflamed body chemistry. This is often due to excessive iron, manganese or aluminum, low zinc, high sodium/potassium ratio or other more complex biochemical imbalances.

Taking the wrong vitamins and minerals — Certain vitamins, such as B-complex, are stimulatory and can cause anxiety and even panic attacks in some people. Minerals such as copper, manganese and others are also stimulatory. Certain herbs, such as ginseng and eleuthero, are also somewhat stimulatory and can cause anxiety. Be careful with supplements, as not all are benign.

Reactions to foods or toxic chemicals — Sensitivity, intolerance or an allergic reaction to a food or something in the environment can cause severe anxiety. Common problems are wheat sensitivity or an allergy to pasteurized and homogenized dairy products. In other cases, the allergy or sensitivity may be respiratory or due to contact with the skin.

Some infections — For example, a common digestive infection that can cause feelings of anxiety and panic is a chronic candida albicans or yeast infection. It produces chemicals such as acetaldehyde and alcohol that irritate the nervous system. Just following a candida diet may not be enough to stop it.

I rarely recommend medical drugs to treat a yeast infection. They are not often needed and can be toxic. Nutritional balancing usually solves the yeast condition, which is always related to a copper imbalance.

How panic or anxiety attacks occur

A panic attack occurs when anxiety feeds into itself, creating a vicious cycle that quickly escalates out of control. Essentially, a negative thought or attack causes a physical fight-or-flight reaction. This makes one more panicky, which in turn worsens the stress response of the body. The process escalates quickly until it overwhelms the nervous system. This is the same mechanism that can cause hypoglycemic attacks, post-traumatic stress episodes and even some epileptic seizures.

If one understands this simple process, it may be possible to stop the attacks by breaking the vicious cycle that creates them before the full-blown attack episode occurs. Ways to do this are:

  1. Reduce excessive sensitivity of the entire central nervous system through biochemical balancing of the body.
  2. Reduce or, better yet, remove triggers that start the attack.
  3. Interrupt the vicious cycle or negative feedback loop in some way, such as by breathing deeply and slowly or thinking positive, calming thoughts.

Correcting anxiety and panic feelings

Solutions for anxiety and panic attacks follow directly from understanding their deeper causes:

1. Follow a nutritional-balancing program — This is a sophisticated type of nutrition program that will correct a dozen or more biochemical imbalances that can predispose a person to feelings of anxiety and panic. In addition, it will help thinking become much clearer, which makes it easier to correct faulty use of the mind. In fact, changes in perception and thinking often occur all by themselves as one’s brain chemistry improves. Read more about this at

2. Correct your thinking — Learning to observe your thoughts and change them by substituting more realistic ideas and more positive emotions can help some people overcome or minimize anxiety. Sometimes a trauma holds a person in a negative thinking pattern. Counseling and a nutritional-balancing program can often break through traumas and release them gently with minimal emotional pain.

3. Improve your diet — Avoid sugar in any form, including fruit and juices. I know this advice is contrary to that of many health authorities, but I have found it to be necessary for some people. Fruit and all sugars act as adrenal stimulants, upset blood sugar, lower calcium and magnesium, and can easily contribute to anxiety or even panic attacks.

Also, eat plenty of vegetables, but cook them rather than eat them raw, as in salads. Most people do not absorb enough minerals from raw vegetables, no matter what is claimed for them. More nutrients are absorbed from cooked vegetables than from raw ones. The few nutrients that are destroyed during cooking are not that important, as they are found in other foods.

Other offensive items to avoid are caffeine found in coffee, tea and soft drinks. Also avoid aspartame and other food additives and chemicals, as some of these also irritate the nervous system.

4. Improve your lifestyle — Be sure to go to bed early and get at least eight or nine hours of sleep every night. In addition, if needed, take a nap every day. Walk at least 15 minutes each day, rather than just sitting all day long at home or work. Do some slow, deep breathing for at least 15 minutes a day. Rub your feet firmly for 10 minutes a day or more. This is called foot reflexology and is a wonderful way to reduce stress in the nervous system. Try to get some daily sunshine for 20 minutes or so, as this is beneficial for most people. Wear a hat if you like but do not wear sunscreen, most of which is quite toxic.

Also, stay away from alcohol and recreational drugs, as they can damage the nervous system. Even the use of prescription drugs and some toxic over-the-counter products such as hair spray, hair dyes and many others are potential culprits. The use of stimulants can also be harmful, as can loud music, no exercise or too much exercise and perhaps other habits that enervate or damage the body in some way.

Other simple methods that may be beneficial range from relaxation procedures to various body therapies, such as Rolfing® Structural Integration and therapeutic massage. I have found that the use of tranquilizer drugs is rarely necessary if one balances the body chemistry and employs the simple methods listed here.

5. Reduce stress — This may sound difficult, but anyone can do it. Correcting your diet and lifestyle are important ways to reduce stress. Also, make an effort to simplify your life. Keep a manageable schedule and try not to overbook yourself. You may go to fewer parties and events or make less money, but your health will improve drastically. Praying daily can help reduce some stress. Also, be sure to laugh and avail yourself daily of uplifting and inspiring music and books.


Dr. Lawrence Wilson has a medical degree and has been in the health field for more than 25 years. His books include Nutritional Balancing and Hair Mineral Analysis, Legal Guidelines for Unlicensed Practitioners, Healing Ourselves and Manual of Sauna Therapy and The Real Self. He also co-authored Toxic Metals in Human Health and Disease and contributed to The Dangers of Socialized Medicine. or 928-445-7690.

Reprinted from AzNetNews, Volume 31, Number 5, October/November 2012.


, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
Web Analytics