Is taking a supplement for nervousness as harmless as you think?

CBC News report this week says a supplement targeting teen nervousness is being investigated by Health Canada. Veeva Teen, approved by Health Canada was being marketed to teens suffering from anxiety, although that claim has now been removed from their website. 

Under Health Canada rules, the product cannot be marketed as a treatment for anxiety, although it is licenced for "relief of nervousness and agitation due to mental stress." But how dangerous is it?

Dangerous Message

Licencing requirements for natural health products often require little scientific evidence (See CBC MarketPlace Investigation). Health Canada says supplements it has approved are safe for consumption. Even if that's true, an approved supplement for "nervousness" sends several dangerous messages:  

  • Feelings, particularly uncomfortable ones, should be avoided
  • Normal human experience such as nervousness, agitation, anxiety and depression are pathological
  • If supplements are needed for ordinary feelings, surely we must need more if we are suffering from a mental illness   
  • It's normal to self-medicate rather than seek lifestyle interventions

As a Counselling Therapist I find these messages very concerning. We have feelings for a reason. Most clients in my experience aren't suffering because of feelings. They are suffering because they believe their feelings are wrong. 

Nature's Feedback

Your feelings are nature's feedback mechanism. Anxiety can help you know when to avoid a dangerous situation. Depression may be telling us to pay attention to parts of our lives where we may be suffering.

If you are constantly seeking to numb your feelings with supplements by drinking, smoking, vaping, drug use, using prescription medication, as well as other forms of escape like binge-watching or online gaming, not only will you miss out on the signals your body is trying to tell you about your life, you may never develop the ability to manage your feelings. 

With Canada now among the world leaders in antidepressant and psychiatric drug use, giving teens supplements for nervousness may initiate a lifelong pursuit of symptom relief.

Nervousness and agitation are giving you a signal. Athletes, artists and performers use nervousness and tension to drive them to elite performances. They learn to channel their energy to achieve exceptional focus. 

Look for the Underlying Cause

At the same time, nervousness might be a sign of a lack of sleep, a need for more phytonutrients in your diet, or a sign that you have become disconnected from your partner, family or community. It may also be a sign of financial problems or an unhealthy work environment. 

If nervousness or anxiety is preventing you from doing things important to you, don't start with a supplement or pill. Talk to a doctor or a registered mental health professional about real, evidence-based strategies for managing your feelings and emotions. 

Feel your feelings. Learn to listen to them rather than be controlled by them. As you get more familiar with their coming and going, you may increase your capacity to manage them. They may become a trusted guide. 

Most importantly consider whether taking a supplement or medication will help you experience life more fully. There is a time and place for evidence-based supplements and medications, but only after we have tried other therapeutic and lifestyle options.

 

Derrick McEachern, M.Ed., RCT, CCC   

 d

Teen Supplement

 

Is taking a supplement for nervousness as harmless as you think?

CBC News report this week says a supplement targeting teen nervousness is being investigated by Health Canada. Veeva Teen, approved by Health Canada was being marketed to teens suffering from anxiety, although that claim has now been removed from their website. 

Under Health Canada rules, the product cannot be marketed as a treatment for anxiety, although it is licenced for “relief of nervousness and agitation due to mental stress.” But how dangerous is it?

Dangerous Message

Licencing requirements for natural health products often require little scientific evidence (See CBC MarketPlace Investigation). Health Canada says supplements it has approved are safe for consumption. Even if that’s true, an approved supplement for “nervousness” sends several dangerous messages:  

  • Feelings, particularly uncomfortable ones, should be avoided
  • Normal human experience such as nervousness, agitation, anxiety and depression are pathological
  • If supplements are needed for ordinary feelings, surely we must need more if we are suffering from a mental illness   
  • It’s normal to self-medicate rather than seek lifestyle interventions

As a Counselling Therapist I find these messages very concerning. We have feelings for a reason. Most clients in my experience aren’t suffering because of feelings. They are suffering because they believe their feelings are wrong. 

Nature’s Feedback

Your feelings are nature’s feedback mechanism. Anxiety can help you know when to avoid a dangerous situation. Depression may be telling us to pay attention to parts of our lives where we may be suffering.

If you are constantly seeking to numb your feelings with supplements by drinking, smoking, vaping, drug use, using prescription medication, as well as other forms of escape like binge-watching or online gaming, not only will you miss out on the signals your body is trying to tell you about your life, you may never develop the ability to manage your feelings. 

With Canada now among the world leaders in antidepressant and psychiatric drug use, giving teens supplements for nervousness may initiate a lifelong pursuit of symptom relief.

Nervousness and agitation are giving you a signal. Athletes, artists and performers use nervousness and tension to drive them to elite performances. They learn to channel their energy to achieve exceptional focus. 

Look for the Underlying Cause

At the same time, nervousness might be a sign of a lack of sleep, a need for more phytonutrients in your diet, or a sign that you have become disconnected from your partner, family or community. It may also be a sign of financial problems or an unhealthy work environment. 

If nervousness or anxiety is preventing you from doing things important to you, don’t start with a supplement or pill. Talk to a doctor or a registered mental health professional about real, evidence-based strategies for managing your feelings and emotions. 

Feel your feelings. Learn to listen to them rather than be controlled by them. As you get more familiar with their coming and going, you may increase your capacity to manage them. They may become a trusted guide. 

Most importantly consider whether taking a supplement or medication will help you experience life more fully. There is a time and place for evidence-based supplements and medications, but only after we have tried other therapeutic and lifestyle options.

 

Derrick McEachern, M.Ed., RCT, CCC   

 

Scroll to Top