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Top Labs To Run Bi-Annually On Your Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) Patients

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Top Labs To Run Bi-Annually On Your Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) Patients

Picture having to take a test at school or giving a presentation at work, and your heart starts to race. You begin to feel worried, anxious, and fearful, which impacts your testing or presentation. These are typical symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), often felt by up to 30% of adults and youths at some point in their life. Thankfully, regular testing can provide insights into various ways to help people with GAD improve these symptoms so they can feel in control of their feelings and the anxiety won't impact their day-to-day activities as much. This article will provide the top functional labs that providers use on a regular basis to help patients with GAD.


What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

GAD is described as an excessive worry and feeling of anxiety about events in daily life, such as school or work, and can occur more often than not for at least six months. This anxiety can impact patients struggling with GAD because they find it difficult to control it. GAD can lead to impairments in function in critical areas of day-to-day life.

What Causes Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)? 

The exact cause of GAD is still unknown. This condition is complex, as with many mental health conditions, and can arise from an interplay of biological and environmental factors, including genetics, brain function, perceptions of experiences, and stress levels. Some of the physical factors that can increase the risk of GAD include imbalances in hormones, nutrition, gut-brain axis, and neurotransmitters. 

Hormone imbalances can contribute to symptoms of anxiety. These imbalances include decreased thyroid production or fluctuations in sex hormones. There is also an interconnection between nutritional status and anxiety, as it has been indicated that sufficient nutrient levels and treatments with supplements may prevent mental health disorders such as anxiety. There is also growing evidence that the gut-brain axis can influence mood and conditions such as anxiety.

Additionally, neurotransmitter imbalances are also indicated in anxiety. For instance, GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter, is used to treat this condition. Due to these various biological and physiological underlying contributors to anxiety, treatments can be individualized to improve outcomes for patients with GAD by assessing these factors through testing.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) Symptoms

Symptoms of GAD can vary. At times they can be mild, and at other times, they can completely consume a person. Patients may feel anxious for no apparent reason. These symptoms can also shift with time and age. Symptoms of GAD may include:

●  Feelings of anxiety or worry that is persistent

●  Consistent thoughts of worst-case scenarios

●  Perceiving unthreatening situations as threatening

●  Problems managing uncertainty

●  Indecisiveness

●  Inability to let worries go

●  Restlessness

●  Concentration issues

GAD can also present with physical symptoms. Physical symptoms include:

●  Energy issues

●  Sleep disturbances

●  Musculoskeletal tension

●  Nervousness

●  Sweating

●  Nausea

●  Irritability

●  Digestive issues

●  Headaches

●  Cardiac issues

Importance of Regular Lab Testing for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) Patients

Patients are diagnosed with GAD after meeting the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) criteria by a qualified healthcare professional. However, a thorough intake and testing should also be completed for any underlying medical conditions. As mentioned earlier, there are many underlying biological contributors to GAD. Regular testing to analyze these contributing factors can provide practitioners the ability to effectively address anxiety and provide them with individualized approaches based on their specific health needs. 

Top Labs To Run Bi-Annually On Your GAD Patients

Practitioners can use functional labs to identify underlying imbalances to develop individual treatment plans to help patients with GAD effectively manage their condition. Here are some top labs that are used for GAD patients:

Thyroid Panel

Symptoms such as difficulty sleeping, mood changes, and fatigue are affiliated with anxiety. Thyroid imbalances can also cause these symptoms. For instance, these symptoms are common in the case of hypothyroidism, a condition caused by low thyroid function. A comprehensive thyroid panel can assess if thyroid issues are the underlying cause of these anxiety symptoms and should be assessed regularly with GAD patients. This thyroid panel is completed through a blood sample and measures the levels of eight different thyroid hormones and their associated antibodies, which gives a thorough analysis of thyroid function. The results of this test can help practitioners address any thyroid imbalances occurring with their GAD patients and individualize treatments appropriately.

Adrenal Stress Test

Stress is a contributing factor to anxiety. Chronic stress levels can cause disruptions in the HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis, contributing to symptoms of GAD. A test to analyze the cortisol (primary stress hormone) levels can identify the underlying factors related to stress and anxiety. The adrenal stress test assesses the function of the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands secrete cortisol and other hormones that regulate stress and other body functions. This test is completed through a saliva sample and measures the cortisol levels at four different times throughout the day, giving a thorough insight into the patient's stress responses. Practitioners can use this information to investigate imbalances in stress levels to help patients with GAD manage their stress levels, thus improving the associated anxiety symptoms. As stress levels constantly change, this test should be run regularly for these patients.

Micronutrient Testing

Nutrients are essential to maintain optimal body function as they are needed in almost every physiological process. It is no different in the case of anxiety. Deficiencies in these nutrients, such as B vitamins, can lead to anxiety, and sufficient levels can reduce the risk of developing GAD. Micronutrient testing will identify the levels of different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants necessary for health. A serum sample is needed to complete this test and will measure the levels of 31 nutrients to determine deficiencies. Practitioners can use this information to recommend specific supplements and create personalized dietary plans to address these deficiencies with their GAD patients to improve their symptoms. Nutrient levels can often change, stressing the importance of testing for these levels on a bi-annual basis.

Microbiome Analysis

An essential aspect of treating anxiety from a functional medicine perspective is addressing gut health, as imbalances in the gut-brain axis are associated with mental health conditions such as GAD. For instance, imbalances in the gut microbiome can increase inflammation in the gut and can make anxiety symptoms worse. Regular testing of the microbiome's health can help practitioners assess the function of the gut-brain axis, which plays a role in the pathophysiology of anxiety. Doctors can individualize supplements, nutritional plans, and other integrative approaches based on these test results to improve the health of their GAD patients.

Neurotransmitter Production

Neurotransmitters can regulate heart rate, breathing, digestion, mood, concentration, pleasure, sleep, and other autonomic functions that can impact patients with GAD. Imbalances in these neurotransmitters have contributed to neurological disorders such as anxiety. The neurotransmitter test is a urine test that can measure excitatory, inhibitory, and other neurotransmitters implicated in GAD. This test can provide practitioners with valuable information on neurotransmitter production to effectively manage GAD and make any necessary adjustments to pharmaceutical interventions, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) used in treating anxiety.

Hormone Panel

Hormone imbalances can significantly contribute to inducing anxiety symptoms in patients with GAD. Variations in hormones such as estrogen and progesterone can occur regularly, prioritizing regular testing when managing GAD. These hormone fluctuations can influence neurotransmitters, negatively impacting cognitive function and increasing anxiety risk. Periodically monitoring the changes in hormones can allow practitioners to manage anxiety symptoms that are associated with those disruptions. This hormone panel is completed through a blood sample that analyzes 13 sex hormones and the corresponding biomarkers that can affect men's and women's health. 



GAD and its symptoms can significantly affect the daily activities of a person struggling with this condition. Therefore, addressing these symptoms is essential to improve the overall well-being of patients with GAD. Regular monitoring through testing can help practitioners navigate through the underlying contributing factors that are associated with GAD. Testing can provide guidance into any necessary adjustments that need to be made for these patients to improve their treatment outcomes.

The information provided is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always consult with your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider before taking any dietary supplement or making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.
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