Though many people equate the term “anxiety” with simply feeling nervous or unsettled, for others, this word indicates the presence of a potentially debilitating mental illness. Many people feel some type of anxiety in their lives, whether because of a drastic change in their environment, such as moving to a new city or starting a new job, or some other source of significant stress. However, in the majority of these cases, the feelings of anxiety abate with time, whereas those who suffer from an anxiety disorder might have to deal with these emotions constantly throughout their lives. While this type of mental illness is often treated with medication, people tend to look for alternative treatments, given that most anti-anxiety drugs come with side effects. One thing people wonder is whether amino acids help anxiety. To find out, keep reading as the people at aminoVITAL® discuss this topic.
How Does Anxiety Affect People?
While it’s often discussed under the general umbrella of “anxiety,” this type of issue is actually related to a number of different emotional disorders. Those who have been diagnosed with one of the following mental illnesses likely experience anxiety as part of their condition:
- Phobias: Those with an excessive fear of an animal, object, activity, environment, or situation likely have some type of phobia.
- Panic disorder: A person who experiences sudden or unexpected panic attacks must struggle with intense feelings of anxiety, not only during each attack but also between attacks.
- Separation anxiety disorder: Those with an intense fear of being away from familiar people or places have this type of anxiety disorder.
- Social anxiety disorder: Those who live in terror of being judged unfavorably in social situations suffer from this kind of anxiety disorder.
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder: Being forced to perform certain repetitive acts or behaviors due to irrational thoughts or fears is the hallmark of this disorder, which is more commonly known as OCD.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder: Though it is most often associated with veterans of military conflicts, PTSD also affects those who have been through any other type of intense traumatic experience.
- Illness anxiety disorder: Those who experience frequent feelings of anxiety over their health or irrational fears related to certain illnesses likely have this condition, which used to be known as hypochondria.
- Generalized anxiety disorder: If you deal with daily feelings of excessive worry or stress over a variety of things in your life, you might have this type of anxiety disorder.
How Amino Acids Affect Anxiety
Generally speaking, the exact causes of anxiety and its related disorders is unclear. Most experts believe that many forms of mental illness, including anxiety and depression, are caused by a combination of factors, such as genetic predispositions, environmental conditions, and neurochemical imbalances. Amino acids have been examined as a possible treatment for anxiety1 because a number of these compounds can affect the chemistry in the brain.
One such amino acid is a compound called tryptophan, an amino acid that serves a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter. Serotonin is thought to play an especially big role in the regulation of certain psychological elements, such as a person’s ability to sleep, the regulation of mood and appetite, and the onset of central nervous system fatigue. Many treatments for anxiety disorders involve the use of medications that influence the amount of serotonin in a person’s brain; one example is the use of a class of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs.
However, many of these medications also come with some unpleasant side effects that patients tend to want to avoid, so amino acids (which are generally free of side effects) have been offered as an alternative. The use of supplemental tryptophan, lysine, and arginine have all been suggested as possible amino acids to help anxiety2, but the evidence that these treatments are effective is scant at best. More testing will need to be conducted before amino acids can be reliably prescribed for the treatment of anxiety disorders.
Other Benefits of Amino Acids
There may be relatively little evidence to support amino acids as a treatment for mental illness, but there is a significant and growing body of evidence showing that these compounds can help enhance athletic performance. This fact is especially true of the class of amino acids called the “branched-chain” amino acids, or BCAAs: leucine, isoleucine, and valine.
The first of these compounds, leucine, is the amino acid that triggers muscle protein synthesis in the body, the process by which you can build bigger biceps and stronger legs. Isoleucine, the second BCAA, is more concerned with endurance than strength; this amino acid promotes the flow of glucose (the body’s preferred source of fuel) to the muscles and helps it get processed there, leading to greater energy during prolonged periods of physical activity.
The third and final BCAA, valine, works to protect muscles during exercise, preserving muscle mass and aiding the recovery process. Combined, these powerful amino acids can boost gains, increase endurance, and fight fatigue as part of a streamlined post-workout recovery drink, all while fighting fatigue.
Potent Amino Acid Supplements for Exercise and Athletic Performance
The jury may still be out on whether amino acids can provide relief from anxiety and other forms of mental illness, but there is plenty of reason to believe that they can help on the field or at the gym. To learn more about these lean, efficient amino acid supplements, visit the aminoVITAL® website or call (888) 264-6673 today.