Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and Depression

Reading the press, listening to the radio, or sourcing information from journals or other sources such as social media it is hard to miss the changes in emotional strength that are being reported on particularly the focus on anxiety and depression. However you choose to place the rising rate of emotional dysfunction, there is an expanded need being met by diminished support. Friendships, family, and professionals are all stretched and cannot it seems, easily meet the growing need.

Research shows that:

  • In any given week in England, 6 in 100 people will be diagnosed with a generalised anxiety disorder (Mind)
  • In the UK, over 8 million people are experiencing an anxiety disorder at any one time (Mental Health UK)
  • Less than 50% of people with generalised anxiety disorder access treatment (Mental Health Foundation)
  • An estimated 822,000 workers are affected by work-related stress, depression, or anxiety every year (Health and Safety Executive)

Add to that the background noise of war, rising prices, and uncertainty it can quickly be seen that there are pressures on our cognitive and emotional intelligence. Feelings of being overwhelmed quickly manifest in changes in behaviour and attitudes and in most cases, these create adverse events and unintended consequences.

Psychotherapy or Psychology concept. Helping hand unravels the tangle of thoughts of a woman with mental disorder, anxiety and confusion mind. Vector illustration
Psychotherapy or Psychology concept. Helping hand unravels the tangle of thoughts of a woman with mental disorder, anxiety and confusion mind. Vector illustration

Anxiety and Medication

Anxiety is a future-oriented state of mind, characterised by feelings of fear, worry or general unease. Everyone feels anxious from time to time, but for some, anxiety is constant and adversely affects their daily life.

Medication currently used has limited effect, recent research confirmed again that serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are in the main limited in their clinical outcomes, yet millions are prescribed them. The Molecular Psychiatry paper by Moncrieff and colleagues, while not saying anything new, reiterates the message that has been clear for some time: there is no evidence to support the chemical imbalance theory of mood disorders[1].

Yet many people do feel better when using SSRIs despite the mechanism of action as understood today, is not the reason why. Interestingly the benign indifference to a very widely used medication explanation is tolerated by prescribers because it ‘appears’ to provide benefit, yet the same level of tolerance is far less likely to be an accepted component of application when using non-pharmacological approaches to anxiety and depression.

Attending to diet, exercise, environmental exposures, managing social interaction, safety, and sleep is also effective for many people with depression and anxiety. Psychotherapy and other talking therapies can also be very helpful. But many people struggle with depression and anxiety despite engaging in these things, and it is for them and the ones not able to engage in all lifestyle changes that we need to utilise alternative and safe support strategies.

Work-related anxiety

Ergophobia; excessive fear of the workplace. Ergophobia was first described in the 19th century as both “the art of laziness” and “a morbid fear or hatred of work”.[2] One is controlled intentional (and perhaps even enjoyable) idleness. The other is an unavoidable anxious state, closely related in the modern day to burnout, panic attacks, and depression disorders.

These kinds of distinctions may be simplistic, but they are helpful. If you are experiencing fear at work or feeling unheard or silenced (or indeed anywhere), then ask yourself: “Is this down to me? Is there something I can change about my own behaviour? Am I being unreasonably sensitive? Am I being a tiny bit lazy?”

Try and focus on specifics. “Is this to do with me or the work or the situation itself? Or the personalities involved? Is it something environmental, like post-pandemic stress?” By separating out these categories, you can immediately start to see more easily what the solutions might be and how much influence you have over them. Then by evaluating each element those aspects in your control can be altered or changed and those currently outside of your control can be addressed later, when you have a higher level of function.

Illustration of man on couch with busy and anxious mind

Natural ingredients

Inevitably there is a need for external assistance. That can be pharmaceutical or non-pharmaceutical, and there are a number of safe, effective natural ingredients that have shown over time and in studies to induce an improved state of mind and well-being. This leads to better sleep, a reduction in feeling overwhelmed, and helps with decision-making. A process that if aligned with a careful support package can resolve the emotional discord, and facilitate a life free from anxiety and depression, or at least diminish the adverse effects of these challenging emotional states.

Changing behaviour is hard, even stepping away from destructive habits, situations and people can be a challenge despite the apparent benefits. Using targeted nutritional supplements alongside a structured set of lifestyle changes can help to set people on the path to recovery.


Magnesium insufficiency and deficiency are rampant in the U.K. and most industrialised nations. More than half of the U.K. population (ages ≥4 years) is considered to be under-consuming this vital mineral[7]. Chronic diseases, medications, decreases in food crop magnesium contents, and the availability of refined and processed foods have all contributed to this epidemic.

Magnesium is the second most abundant cation in soft tissues (behind potassium), and it is a cofactor for more than 300 enzymes. It plays a role in adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production, neuronal activity, cardiac function, and electrical properties of cell membranes; has antispasmodic effects; and assists in glutathione synthesis. In addition to all of these accolades, magnesium has anxiolytic properties, increases stress tolerance, and is an effective antidepressant[8]. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) varies by age and gender, ranging from 360 to 420 mg of elemental magnesium daily.

Saffron flowers
Flowers of saffron after collection


Saffron extracts, from the Crocus flower, have been shown to contribute to emotional and mental balance, and help to support relaxation and to maintain a positive mood. Clinical trials have shown that 30mg of Iranian saffron extract significantly corrects severe mood troubles compared to a placebo, with the first significant positive effects observed after 1 week. And what’s more, 30mg daily saffron extract provides the same effectiveness as well-known pharmaceutical mood stabilisers, such as fluoxetine and imipramine, without any adverse effects.

Another open study using 15mg of saffron extract twice daily for 30 days showed improved mood after only 15 days. In addition, after 30 days, more than 50% of subjects felt better sleep quality3 out of 4 people feel happier and more relaxed after only 15 days on 30mg saffron extract.


Food when concentrated and or fermented changes its compositional potency allowing for a novel application in health generation. For many centuries practitioners have explored and refined the use of nutrients, plants herbs, and extracts to mitigate poor health and restore vitality to compensate for poor nutritional choices.

There are numerous approaches that can assist an individual to recover well-being and focus and in clinical settings the more of the changes the individual can encompass in their daily life the better the threshold effect is. Sometimes to support or generate enough momentum to facilitate this to occur an exogenous effective nutrient combination can be very helpful

[1] Moncrieff, J., Cooper, R.E., Stockmann, T. et al. The serotonin theory of depression: a systematic umbrella review of the evidence. Mol Psychiatry (2022).

[2] Spanton WD. An Address ON ERGOPHOBIA. Br Med J. 1905 Feb 11;1(2302):300-2. doi: 10.1136/bmj.1.2302.300.

[3] Dorman, T. et al. The Effectiveness of Garum Amoricum (Stabilium) on Reducing Anxiety in College Students. Journal of Advancement in Medicine. 1995; Vol 8(3):193-200

[4] Oddoux S, Violette P, Cornet J, Akkoyun-Farinez J, Besnier M, Noël A, Rouillon F. Effect of a Dietary Supplement Combining Bioactive Peptides and Magnesium on Adjustment Disorder with Anxiety: A Clinical Trial in General Practice. Nutrients. 2022 Jun 10;14(12):2425.

[5] Freret T., Largilliere S., Nee G., Coolzaet M., Corvaisier S., Boulouard M. Fast Anxiolytic-Like Effect Observed in the Rat Conditioned Defensive Burying Test, after a Single Oral Dose of Natural Protein Extract Products. Nutrients. 2021;13:2445.

[6] Diazepam-like effects of a fish protein hydrolysate (Gabolysat PC60) on stress responsiveness of the rat pituitary-adrenal system and sympathoadrenal activity. Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2000 Mar;149(1):34-40. doi:

[7] DiNicolantonio JJ, O’Keefe JH, Wilson W. Subclinical magnesium deficiency: a principal driver of cardiovascular disease and a public health crisis. Open Heart. 2018 Jan 13;5(1):e000668. doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2017-000668. Erratum in: Open Heart. 2018 Apr 5;5(1).

[8] Pickering G, Mazur A, Trousselard M, Bienkowski P, Yaltsewa N, Amessou M, Noah L, Pouteau E. Magnesium Status and Stress: The Vicious Circle Concept Revisited. Nutrients. 2020 Nov 28;12(12):3672.

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Elisabeth Philipps

Karen Devine

Karen Devine

Shelley Harvey

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