Why Western Medicine Fails At Treating Anxiety

Nearly everyone has experienced anxiety at some point in their life but for some, it becomes that lingering turd stuck to the bottom of our shoe.  You just can’t seem to kick it or get it off of you. It may come and go but when it’s there, it really freakin’ stinks.

The sh*tty thing about mental health issues is that they affect nearly every aspect of your daily life: relationships, motivation, energy levels, work, focus, communication, sleep, appetite

What’s even more frustrating is that because there isn’t something ‘physically’ wrong, symptoms often get dismissed or diminished by our friends, family and even our doctors.

Maybe it’s gotten to the point where it’s completely unbearable and you’ve gone to see your doctor to get help for it. You were most likely prescribed a Xanax, Ativan or Lexapro and sent on your way.  There probably wasn’t a whole lot of dialogue around what might be causing it, nor were there any lab tests offered to explore the root cause.  Perhaps the pills worked and you feel better OR maybe they didn’t, you have side-effects or feel worse.

Either way, it can feel frustrating, isolating, lonely, and these problems can leave you feeling hopeless. 

I write this as a fellow recovering anxiety experiencer.  It’s why I’ve become so passionate about helping people retrain their nervous system because I’ve found tools that can help alleviate this suffocating and frustrating problem.




“I’ve tried everything” 

The prescription pills, meditating, epsom salt baths or even talking to a therapist.

In our modern lives we are so used to quick-fixes and instant gratification but as I’m sure you’ve experienced, results are temporary or come with negative side effects. We’re often looking for that magic bullet… the ONE thing that will solve our problem.

Here’s the buzzkill — there’s rarely one magical solution or cure-all that takes away your anxiety.  The root of your problem is usually a combination of issues so it will take a combination of tools to fix.

Most often when it comes to health and healing, there isn’t a quick fix.

The solutions that I suggest and offer here do take work, self-reflection and more dedication than simply poppin’ a pill. But the pay-off is ten-fold. 

Implementing even 20% of the tips that I give here will help to improve your life and health in a multitude of ways and make habits that create a long and healthy life.




What works for one person on Instagram will not work for everyone.

Have you ever asked your friend what skin product they’re using to get their glowing skin and then you buy it and it makes you break out? That’s because each unique human and their constitution needs something a little bit different.

Western medicine tends to operate off textbook, generalized treatments that will ‘work’ for MOST people. But as many of us who have tried the traditional “anxiety solution” –generalized, non-personalized treatments (Xanax, depression meds, etc) without a focus on the root cause — know that it only gets us so far.

This type of treatment is only reducing symptoms and putting a band-aid over the bigger, underlying issue. It may help initially but it’s not focused on true health and healing. It comes with side-effects and can leave you feeling numb and a shell of a human.

To get a handle on anxiety and nervous system dysfunction, it takes evaluating your lifestyle and figuring out where you can improve your daily habits to help improve your quality of life.

It’s the little choices you make every day that add up to make a big difference. 






Most people are already familiar with the typical Western Doctor scenario for anxiety treatment.

Ten different people can see a doctor for anxiety and the treatment is the same…

“Here’s your Xanax, Lexapro, Cymbalta, Ativan, etc”

Even though each one could be experiencing anxiety for very different reasons or very different symptoms that all fall under the umbrella term “anxiety”, they all get the same treatment. 

Anxiety = _____ (pill). 



Now I’d like to discuss the way that I approach things from an Eastern and Functional Medicine point of view.  My new patient intake forms are much more extensive that you’ll see at your average doc’s office.  It covers diet, lifestyle, movement, stress management and other factors that will help me guide our conversation during the initial consultation and allow me to get a big picture of how you live your life. 


Many of the questions may not seem relevant to your particular issue but like we said above, it’s all connected baby!


Here’s some typical questions and treatment recommendations for a ‘typical’ anxiety patient:

    • What are the main causes of stress or emotional discomfort in your life right now?
      • How much of it is something that you can change or control?
      • What is out of your control?
    • What are the symptoms of your anxiety?
      • Is it more physical or more overthinking/in your head?
      • Where in your body do you feel it?
    • Is it mental rumination, circular thinking and digestive issues?
      • We call this spleen qi deficiency where we focus on treating the gut, reducing stress and multi-tasking and eating warm, cooked foods
    • Is it shortness of breath and heart palpitations?
      • We’d consider this Heart Qi deficiency and we’d focus on treating the emotions and nourishing the heart with red foods
    • What’s your average breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
      • What time do you eat them?
      • Are you starting the day with a sugary breakfast (smoothie, fruit, processed carbs like bagels, muffins, breads, etc)
      • Do you regularly skip meals?
      • Doing the above can dysregulate blood sugar and those symptoms mimic anxiety.
    • Do you take any medications, birth control or supplements?
    • Do you consume stimulants like coffee, adderall, energy drinks, etc? 
      • How much and at what time during the day?
    • How often do you consume alcoholic beverages?
    • What’s your sugar intake like?
    • What do you do for daily stress management?
    • How can we implement or tweak your meditation, journal, breathwork, EFT, art/creating, etc
    • What’s your exercise or body movement routine?
      • Do you exercise once a day or do you include walks and movement throughout?
    • How many steps do you get in per day?
      • Aim for 8,000 -10,000/day
    • How often do you sit at work?
      • Can you take breaks every 30min?
    • What’s your daily screen time like? 
      • Check the app on your phone.
      • How can we minimize it?
    • Are you scrolling at night?
      • Can you put your phone in another room or turn it on so it does not disturb you to remove temptations?
    • How many hours a day do you work on the computer?
      • Set alarms for walk/stretch breaks
      • Set alarms to go look at plants/nature to recalibrate your eyes
      • Take a walk at lunchtime instead of staying at your desk.


Once we identify the areas in which you can improve or dial in your habits, we make recommendations from there. 


Sound too simple and good to be true? 

Most anxiety is caused by us living out-of-alignment with nature (disrupted circadian rhythm, eating a processed food diet, not enough sunlight or outdoor exposure, sitting too much, too much screentime) OR our soul’s purpose (in a toxic relationship, working a job we hate, living somewhere we don’t like, hanging with friends who don’t align with our values).


This is not an environment in which a human thrives.  Think of your body like a plant, it needs the right environment in order to grow. If you keep it inside a room without windows and only water it with tap water, it’ll die off pretty dang quick.

Just like a plant needs the perfect amount of sun, water and soil, your body requires fine tuning your habits so you too can grow and thrive.





Now that we’ve addressed what some of the potential causes and contributing factors of anxiety may be, here’s an example of what a treatment plan could look like. 

Remember, everybody is different!


‘Mary’ is a 32 year old female patient who was having debilitating panic attacks 4x a week.

      • She also experienced bloating, alternating constipation/loose stools, a hard time staying asleep.
      • She’s had anxiety for 3 years after coming back from a trip to India where she got food poisoning and had to take antibiotics.
      • She gets nauseous when anxious, with shortness of breath, circular thoughts and no appetite.
      • She usually skips breakfast and gets an oat milk latte from Starbucks on her way to work. She has another cup of coffee or a matcha around 2pm because she’s always exhausted after lunch.
      • She was a vegetarian for 10 years but started doing keto off/on a year ago.
      • Her periods are light with cramps on days 1 and 2. 
      • She’s had a lot of stress as of late as she moved in with her boyfriend and things aren’t going that well. When they fight her anxiety and digestion gets worse. 
      • She does spin 2-3x a week and HIIT classes another 2 days each week, usually on an empty stomach.





    • 2x a week for 3 weeks or until panic attacks decrease to less than twice a week. Once symptoms are subsiding we can drop down to 2x a week or 1x a week sessions.


    • Follow the 30 day Paleo Reset
    • Eliminate or reduce caffeine to 1 cup/day of organic coffee with organic coconut or almond milk (with no additives) before 11am
    • Eat a warm, savory breakfast with vegetables, protein and fat
    • Eat moderate carbs instead of low carb/keto
    • Remove all cold/raw foods, minimize/eliminate smoothies and choose warm, savory foods only to nourish the spleen
    • Ditch the Brita filter and get a countertop Reverse Osmosis with added minerals or go to a water store to purchase high quality, filtered water.


    • Do comprehensive bloodwork panel for thyroid, iron, B12, Vit D, CBC, metabolic panel
    • GI Effects Stool test to evaluate for gut dysbiosis, infections and other inflammatory markers.
    • Schedule follow up for 1 month out to schedule Case Review to go over blood and stool results.
      • Will consider DUTCH hormone and cortisol testing based on improvements w/ diet and lifestyle changes.


    • Begin daily meditation practice, starting at 5 min a day and work your way up. Download Headspace App and do their 365 program which is a different meditation each day that builds upon the one before it teaches you how to meditate.
    • Morning walks or outside with sun on the skin within an hour of waking up to help regulate cortisol
    • ‘Morning Pages’ – journal 3 pages every day
    • Aim for 8,000 steps every day

Within a week of our initial consultation, I was getting texts and emails saying she felt LOADS better just from making the changes to her diet and lifestyle. She slowly implemented them week by week so it wasn’t overwhelming for her. By the time we got her tests back 3 weeks later (which showed massive gut dysbiosis) she was already feeling 40% better.


Anxiety does not have a quick and easy fix. That’s why Western medicine so often fails. It takes an examination of your daily habits to see where you are living out of alignment within your life and with human nature. 

If you’re dealing with the frustrating, isolating and debilitating symptoms of anxiety, start by implementing the tips found here. It can make a WORLD of a difference! 

If you want more personalized guidance, schedule a virtual Functional Medicine Consultation.  I’d love to help you start living a full, vibrant life!