Understanding Anxiety & Mood Dysregulation:
Insights from Gut Philosophy
Mood dysregulation, such as anxiety, mood swings and low mood are common and may have a great impact on quality of life. Modern medicine continues to separate the mind from the rest of the body and tends to treat them separately. Antidepressants, anti-psychotic drugs, ADHD medications are often overprescribed without understanding and exploring what else may be contributing to the symptoms.
At Gut Philosophy, we are dedicated to providing you with the information and tools you need to address your emotional and brain health. In this informational page, we are covering the basics of common root causes of anxiety and mood dysregulation.
Understanding Anxiety and Mood Dysregulation
Mood dysregulation is influenced by genetic, environmental factors, psychological factors and lifestyle. They can lead to a wide range of emotional and physical symptoms, affecting relationships, work, and overall quality of life, such as:
- Temper tantrums and meltdowns (particular in children and adolescents)
- Irritability and anger
- Anxiety and tension
- Fatigue and lack of energy
- Depressed mood or feelings of hopelessness
- Low motivation and lack of interest in daily activities
- Difficulty functioning socially or academically due to mood symptoms
- Difficulty concentrating or making decisions
- Insomnia or excessive sleep
Common Root Causes of Anxiety and Mood Dysregulation
Some common root causes of anxiety and mood dysregulation include:
Gut dysbiosis: it is an imbalance in the composition and function of the gut microbiota, the complex community of microorganisms residing in the gastrointestinal tract. There is a bidirectional communication between the gut and the brain called “gut-brain axis”. Gut dysbiosis can affect this communication through a number of mechanisms, including production of pro-inflammatory chemicals and imbalance in neurotransmitter synthesis, such as serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which are crucial for mood regulation.
Low grade neuro-inflammation: inflammatory processes from gut dysbiosis, chronic infections, environmental chemicals, injury or tissue damage release chemicals capable of affecting mood, causing anxiety and depression. Identifying the sources of inflammation and removing them are important when dealing with mood dysregulation.
Nutrient deficiencies: there are a number of nutrients required for synthesis of neurotransmitters and optimal brain function, such as Zinc, Copper, Vitamin D, Iron, Vitamin B2, B3, B6, B12 and folate. Deficiency in any of these nutrients may affect mood regulation, potentially causing anxiety and depression.
Hormonal imbalances: any hormonal dysregulation may contribute to mood issue, including anxiety, low mood, mood swings, depression. For example, thyroid dysfunction, in particular hypothyroidism, may manifest as depression, feeling sad, low motivation, difficulty concentration, brain fog. Adrenal dysregulation with suppressed or elevated cortisol levels may manifest in fatigue, low mood, feeling overwhelmed, not able to copy with daily challenges, irritability, heightened emotional sensitivity. Sex hormones imbalances, including PMS, perimenopause and menopause may manifest in anger, irritability, mood swings, anxiety, depression. Testing for hormonal imbalances and addressing them are crucial for emotional and brain health.
Dysregulated nervous system: the imbalance between the sympathetic (“fight-or-flight”) and parasympathetic (“rest-and-digest”) branches of the nervous system may lead to heightened reactivity to external stressors, increased production of stress hormones like cortisol, and altered neurotransmitter activity in the brain. These physiological changes can manifest as persistent anxiety, depression, or mood swings.
Poor sleep & disrupted circadian rhythms: our internal “body clock” or circadian rhythms orchestrate various physiological processes, including the release of hormones, such as melatonin and neurotransmitters, such as dopamine and serotonin that may affect mood and emotional health. Therefore, irregular sleep patterns, poor sleep quality, or insufficient sleep may lead to imbalances in these hormones and neurotransmitters resulting in increased irritability, emotional volatility, and vulnerability to depression and anxiety.
Toxicants and suboptimal detoxification: the exposure to harmful substances, such as heavy metals, pesticides, industrial chemicals can directly affect the central nervous system, disrupting the neurotransmitter function and leading to imbalances in brain chemistry. In addition, certain individuals may struggle to detoxify harmful chemicals due to different reasons, including genetic variants in enzymes involved in detoxification, fatty liver, poor gallbladder function, poor lymph circulation, constipation and gut dysbiosis, and more.
Tips for Improving Mood and Reducing Anxiety
Improving your mood and reducing anxiety starts with making healthier dietary and lifestyle choices. Here are some tips to consider for mood disorder support:
Focusing on healthy fats: fats play a crucial role in nervous system, they are integral part of cellular membranes and are responsible for the quality of cellular communication. Ensure that you are eating healthy fats with each meal and focusing on Omega-3 essential fatty acids, such as ALA, EPA, DHA .
Eating nutrient rich diet: ensure that you are consuming the foods rich in the key nutrients required for the proper functioning of the nervous system and the brain health, such as Zinc, Copper, Vitamins B2, B3, B6, B12, folate.
Supporting your gut health: eating a balanced and healthy diet is often not sufficient, if you cannot digest and absorb those nutrients effectively. Ensuring that your gut health is optimal and working on the diversity of your gut microbiome is the key for a healthy gut-brain axis.
Optimising your sleep routine: quantity as well as quality of your sleep matters when dealing with mood dysregulation. Sleep influences the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, including serotonin and dopamine, which are close20tied to mood regulation. Sleep is also essential for regulating hormonal balance. Things to consider and address when optimising sleep are: late night meals, going to bed to late, staying on the screens for too long or late in the evening, lack of morning light exposure, noise and light pollution during the night and more.
Optimising movement and exercise regime: the list of benefits of regular movement and exercise for the brain health is never-ending. Exercise triggers the release of endorphins, often referred to as “feel-good” hormones, which help reduce feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression. It also stimulates the production of neurotransmitters like serotonin and norepinephrine, which play a role in regulating mood and stress. It increases the availability of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), which has calming effects, and reduces the levels of glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter associated with anxiety and stress. Exercise also improves cognitive function, such as memory, attention and learning. It helps maintain brain structure and function by promoting the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that supports the survival and growth of neurons.
Reducing your exposure to environmental toxins: identifying the key sources of toxic chemicals, limiting the exposure to them, choosing organic produce, where possible are all important strategies for mood regulation and brain support.
Addressing emotional traumas and supporting mental and emotional health with different techniques that work for you, such as meditation, breathwork, yoga, mindfulness and psychotherapies.
How Gut Philosophy Can Help
At Gut Philosophy we approach mood dysregulation through integrative angle, starting with in-depth assessment of your medical history, recent lab results, evaluation of your diet, sleep, stress levels, exercise and movement, and environmental chemicals exposure.
During your Initial Consultation, your functional medicine practitioner will outline the key imbalances and triggers, will explain the strategy how to address them and support your symptoms.
Following your Initial Consultation you will receive a personalised Health Optimisation Programme based on our findings and analysis.
Your Health Optimisation Programme usually includes:
- Dietary interventions (i.e. functional foods, key nutrients, optimising digestion, fasting schedules)
- Lifestyle interventions (i.e. sleep hygiene, stress coping strategies, exercise & movement strategy, addressing environmental chemicals, and more)
- Personalised supplementation schedule using professional and highly bioavailable supplement range
- GP or specialists referral (if needed)
- Any further testing and therapies (if needed)
Functional and genetic testing could be useful tools in understanding mood dysregulation. We recommend starting from the comprehensive blood and urine test. You can read more about Functional Blood Test here
If you have questions about our approach or testing options, you could schedule a complimentary discovery call here.
Frequently Asked Questions About Anxiety and Mood
Contact us today to book a free discovery call with one of our functional medicine practitioners and learn how we can help you support your energy levels and overall well-being.