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Do you feel that diet is related to your panic attacks?

Jane asked this
March 26, 2012 at 12:04 PM



Interesting question!

I think that for the most part, panic attacks are the result of trauma and extreme stress. The best way to treat them is to work with a therapist or counselor who can help you identify the root causes of the panic attacks and their triggers and to develop coping strategies to overcome them.

HOWEVER, there have been some interesting connection made between mental health conditions and anxiety - particularly foods prone to environmental pollution such as large fish, and common allergenic foods like milk, wheat, nuts and eggs. Do you have digestive problems on a fairly regular basis? A lot of gas, constipation or diarrhea? Problems with your skin? Chronically runny nose or dark circles under your eyes?

I'd suggest looking into symptoms of heavy metal toxicity and to the symptoms of food sensitivities and see if they seem to fit. If so, you're doctor will most likely recommend an elimination diet to rule out a dietary cause for anxiety.

Erin Froehlich answered
March 26, 2012 at 12:16 PM

What an interesting question, Jane. I have several friends who have experienced panic attacks, though none have considered diet as a cause. Both anxiety disorders and dieting are common in the United States and are more common in women, therefore your question seems very logical. However after reviewing the available scientific literature and did not find any solid evidence connecting specific foods with panic attacks. The cause, as Erin mentioned, is more connected with the environment and mental state.

Here are a few highlights from the science that may be of interest:

  • Those following a high-protein, low-carb diet (similar to Atkins) in a small study were found to have an increase in panic attacks/anxiety symptoms...

  • There is some research indicating that people with OCD and have panic attacks tend to have high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels...

  • There have been at least five good studies linking kava kava (an herb) with positive relief for symptoms of clinical anxiety like fear, insomnia, or an inability to concentrate. Certainly providing potential as a means of anxiety reduction.

  • There is also research indicating that those who consume ground flax seed on a daily basis may be able to 'significantly' lower their risk of anxiety... I would imagine this is due to the incredible benefits of omega-3 fatty acids as they have been linked with many mental health issues and show incredible improvement.

I do hope this helps, I know that panic attacks can be very scary. We're all wishing you well and that you are able to find some relief.

Cheers to good health and good food!


Jessica Corwin MPH RDN Health Coach answered
March 27, 2012 at 7:56 PM

Diet in and of itself would not cause panic attacks but stimulants such as caffeine can help bring them on, or make them stronger.

Dr. Jeff Chamberlain, MD Health Coach answered
March 27, 2012 at 8:32 PM

I agree with Dr. Jeff, although for me it's in kind of a roundabout way. Caffeine tends to make it harder for me to sleep, and I find that the next day my lack of sleep makes my panic attacks stronger. I have heard that sleep deprivation can lead to paranoia, so that might be linked in as well.

Big Dave from SLN answered
March 29, 2012 at 10:43 AM

I agree with Dr.Jeff also. if I eat or drink some food that I know i am sensitive too, such as caffeine, it may cause a tingle in my body, that my body reads as panic.

Susan answered
April 9, 2012 at 6:11 PM
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