Do this test to find out if your anxiety is genetic

is your anxiety genetic

Many different factors can cause anxiety. One little-known cause is a genetic variation that prevents your brain from making enough GABA, a calming brain chemical that prevents anxiety. You can do a simple test with a supplement to find out if this genetic variation affects you.

GABA: The brain chemicals that prevents anxiety

When GABA is low, anxiety goes up, it’s difficult to sleep, and you always feel like you’re in a hurry or living under the threat of imminent doom.

GABA is made from another brain chemical called glutamate. Glutamate is the opposite of GABA in that it is excitatory and stimulating to the nervous system. Both are necessary for healthy brain function. Ideally, they operate in concert with one another, keeping the brain both sufficiently stimulated and calmed as necessary.

However, many disorders today, including anxiety, involved excess glutamate and insufficient GABA. Excess glutamate not only over stimulates the nervous system, it is also toxic to the brain and can age, or degenerate, it too quickly.

The alpha-ketoglutaric acid challenge to screen for genetic cause of anxiety

A variety of factors can cause excess glutamate, however, for some it is faulty conversion of glutamate to GABA that is genetic. Consider this possibility if you have a family history of anxiety.

You can test whether you have this genetic conversion variation with a supplement called alpha-ketoglutaric acid (AKG). The body makes AKG into glutamate, some of which will be made into GABA, unless you have this genetic issue.

How to do the AKG challenge

To perform the challenge, take 3,000 to 4,000 mg of alpha-ketoglutaric acid. Some people have a response after taking it once; others have to take it for several days to respond. Use trial and error to test it.

If you do not have this genetic conversion issue, the AKG will cause either no symptoms or perhaps a little extra energy from the increased glutamate production, but not anxiety.

For the person with the genetic variation, however, the surge of glutamate production combined with the genetic inability to convert it to GABA will cause excitability, nervousness, anxiety, insomnia, and other GABA-deficiency symptoms.

If you have a positive result with the AKG challenge

If the AKG gave you anxiety or insomnia, then you know a perpetual GABA shortage may be an issue for you. Taking GABA support on a regular, lifelong basis may help alleviate symptoms of anxiety, insomnia, nervousness, and catastrophic thinking.

Compounds that work well to support GABA pathways include l-theanine, l-taurine, vitamin B6, valerian, passion flower, and lithium orotate. These can be taken regularly.

Be careful with drugs that increase GABA, such as benzodiazepenes (Valium, Xanax, etc.) They cause many people to build a tolerance to them and withdrawal can be extremely difficult.

Some supplements such as phenibut act like benzodiazepenes and can also cause tolerance if taken regularly, so be mindful of those. Straight GABA is too large to cross the blood-brain barrier, so if it works, then this may indicate you have a leaky blood-brain barrier, which is commonly associated with leaky gut. Also, taking straight GABA regularly can cause you to build a tolerance as well.

Regular exercise, stress-reducing techniques, blocking blue light at night  avoiding foods or supplements that raise glutamate (such as MSG or artificial sweeteners), stabilizing blood sugar, and avoiding foods that cause an immune reaction are some other ways to manage your anxiety naturally.

Is poor balance the cause of your anxiety and insomnia?

Hangue Park

The cerebellum (the area at the back of the brain) is best known for its role in balance and coordination. However, the cerebellum does more than that — when it starts to malfunction, the results can be not only worsened balance, but also anxiety, insomnia, and hyper sensitivity.

The cerebellum is a primary integrator of information for the brain. Our body has hundreds of thousands of receptors that detect motion, vision, and where and how our body and joints are positioned at all times. These receptors constantly relay information to the brain so that we can move and function properly in our environment.

This information requires organizing before heading to the rest of the brain. The cerebellum condenses the information and “gates” it, meaning it releases it in manageable amounts to the brain’s cortex, the outer covering with its characteristic folds.

The cortex, which is responsible for higher-order functions of thought and action, decides if you need to carry out a specific action or thought in response to the information, such as turn left, answer a question, run from danger, make a decision, etc. The cortex then sends its information back to the cerebellum to help carry out actions.

When things go wrong with the cerebellum

The cerebellum is a common site of dysfunction. It can degenerate, meaning neurons die. The cerebellum is very susceptible to sensitivity to gluten and other foods, environmental toxins, and oxidative stress. It also can degenerate with age — why older people notoriously have bad balance. Children born with brain developmental disorders often have poor cerebellar function.

Poor cerebellar function is observed in various ways, such as poor balance, lack of coordination, or a tremor as you go to pick something up or bring a glass to your mouth (known as termination tremors).

Stand with your feet together, your arms at your side, and then close your eyes. If you sway more frequently to one side, that may indicate the side with more cerebellar dysfunction — it takes it longer to respond to falling on that side of your body.

Other tests your doctor may use to observe cerebellum function are coordination tests such as: finger to nose, walking heel to toe in a straight line, performing complex alternating movements, and ocular tracking (the eyes give insight into function).

Poor cerebellar function can also cause dizziness, disorientation, and nausea in cars, on boats, or when seeing things move swiftly, such as in a movie. Basically, the cerebellum is not able to respond appropriately to input from the environment.

Cerebellum function and anxiety and insomnia

As the cerebellum loses function it begins to falter at its job of gating information delivered to the cortex. As a result, excess information slips through.

This means the cortex and areas in the brainstem receive more information than they can adequately manage. Much of the role of the frontal cortex is to act as a brake pedal on the brainstem, preventing the brainstem from spinning out of control. Our brainstem governs myriad functions, such as emotions, heart function, blood pressure, and digestion.

This poorly gated sensory overload can cause many symptoms:

  • Anxiety
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Startle easily
  • Insomnia due to racing mind
  • Irritable
  • Trouble staying asleep
  • Highly emotionally sensitive
  • Fearful
  • Heart racing/palpitations
  • Blood Pressure changes
  • Digestive Issues

Many factors work against us when it comes to healthy brain function that prevents an overactive brain and anxiety. They include a culture that cherishes overworking, inflammatory diets, unstable blood sugar, too much screen time, stressful lives, and not enough sleep.

Ask my office for information on how to dampen brain activity and help relieve anxiety and insomnia.