Have you ever felt overwhelmed by anxiety, seemingly coming out of nowhere, and wondered why? There’s a natural explanation. Your hormones strongly affect how you feel.
Can a hormone imbalance cause anxiety? Your hormonal balance plays a huge and direct role in your emotional state. Hormones regulate the way you handle stress. If your hormones are out of balance you can experience anxiety, depression, nervousness and disturbed sleep that can make anxiety worse.
You are not alone. Anxiety affects a LOT of women.
Before I do anything else, I want to reassure you that you are absolutely NOT alone. 40 Million adults in America are affected by Anxiety. This is a full 18% of the adult population.
Read the research > Epidemiology of anxiety disorders Kessler 2010
However, the truth is that these figures show that twice as many women than men suffer with anxiety. In many cases it is an imbalance of female hormones that can make anxiety worse.
How your hormones cause anxiety
Hormones are chemical messengers that travel through your blood to regulate organs and tissues. They are part of your endocrine system.
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The endocrine system is a highly complex and finely balanced machine.
If it’s running smoothly you will have lots of energy, feel calm and happy.
However, it is really easy for this delicate system to go out of whack. When this happens, anxiety symptoms can happen.
Can Lifestyle Make a difference?
Lifestyle factors can have a great effect on your hormone balance.
Factors such as…
- Eating a lot of processed food
- Eating too little
- Exercising too much
- Eating a lot of sugar
- Drinking alcohol
- Not getting enough sleep
- Stressful situations
- Long term stress
This can all have an effect on your hormone balance. In the case of sleep, disrupted hormones can make it harder to sleep well too so this can become a self-perpetuating cycle.
Which hormones are responsible for anxiety?
It is important to say that hormones don’t work alone. Issues with one hormone will have an impact on the others. It’s a cascading effect.
This is what all your hormones need to be in balance with each other for your mood to be stable.
There are certain hormones that cause problems more often than others. I will break down the usual suspects and show how they can impact your mental health and cause anxiety.
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Progesterone and Estrogen
These are the two hormones we think of as the “female” hormones. They regulate the reproductive system but have a huge effect on mood too.
If you have ever felt crazy rage or depression just before your period you will know exactly how this feels.
Estrogen is higher at the beginning of your menstrual cycle. It increases serotonin levels which makes you feel happier. At the back end of your menstrual cycle, progesterone becomes dominant.
Higher progesterone stimulates the part of your brain which controls the fight or flight response. This can result in you feeling jittery, on edge and finding it hard to deal with everyday life, a classic anxiety feeling.
Estrogen Dominance, Menopause and Perimenopause
The balance between Estrogen and Progesterone is really important. Estrogen and Progesterone need to be in careful balance.
If Estrogen is too high relative to Progesterone, this is called Estrogen Dominance and can cause difficult symptoms.
These symptoms often happen during Perimenopause and Menopause. Whilst you are transitioning through Menopause, all your hormone levels are dropping. It’s common for progesterone to fall first, leaving your Estrogen high in comparison.
This imbalance is responsible for many of the symptoms of menopause. One of the major symptoms of estrogen dominance are issues with mood. Anxiety, rage and depression can be some of the hardest to handle of all the menopause symptoms.
Estrogen Dominance can occur at other times of life too. Not just during menopause.
We are living in increasingly stressful times. Crazy things are happening in the world and the news is a constant flow of depressing information.
Your work may be increasingly pressurised, especially if you are having to work in a remote situation from home. Money is very difficult for a lot of people too in the current climate.
Stress levels are in overdrive today for a lot of people.
You body is designed to keep you alive in dangerous situations. Stress hormones would be released to allow you to run away or fight.
These hormones are adrenaline and cortisol.
This is known as the flight-or-fight reaction and leaves you feeling jittery, jumpy and ready to high tail it to the hills.
In the past, these hormones would have been triggered if you were attacked by a sabre-toothed tiger. Today they are triggered by your boss sending you a stressful email or by watching the news every evening.
You can recover from a short scare, but these stresses tend to be ongoing over days, months or years.
The stress hormones are high for long levels of time which has a cascade of effects. This can overtax your adrenal glands and leave you with a constant feeling of anxiety.
Testosterone and anxiety (yes, even in women)
Testosterone doesn’t just affect men. Women have Testosterone too and it can affect your mental health.
As discussed at the top of the article, women suffer from anxiety more than men. Research has linked low testosterone to increased anxiety, especially social anxiety.
Testosterone regulates the brain area that allows you to assess strangers emotions so if the levels are low it can cause anxiety problems.
Women can find that their Testosterone levels can fall. This can happen during Menopause or if your Thyroid levels are off.
If you find yourself having social anxiety, it may be worth looking at your testosterone levels.
This is a hormone close to my heart. I had my Thyroid removed in 2017. As my thyroid failed, I suffered really badly with terrible anxiety. Once I had replaced my Thyroid hormones and balanced the rest of my hormones the anxiety just went away.
I realised that the underlying anxiety I had suffered all my life had been hormone related.
Today I am extremely calm and almost never suffer from anxiety but I remember how awful it feels. This is the driving force behind why I want to get the message out about how massively your hormones can affect your life.
Most people don’t even know where their Thyroid is, let alone what a huge impact it can have on your life. I know I didn’t before I became ill.
Thyroid related anxiety symptoms can include;
- Panic Attacks
- Weight loss
- Fingernail biting.
I found I couldn’t stop gnawing on my fingernails, so I feel this is a bit of a telltale sign.
If you do suffer with panic attacks, it’s really worth getting your doctor to run a Thyroid test. You can also get tested cheaply by buying a blood test on the internet. Once you know what is happening with your Thyroid levels you can be treated and things will improve.
What are the risks of having anxiety?
Anxiety is a horrible thing to have to deal with on an everyday basis. Its draining and stops you taking your full enjoyment out of life.
However, anxiety on an ongoing basis can also have a devastating effect on your physical health too.
High Blood Pressure
Research has shown a link between anxiety disorders and high blood pressure. If you had an anxiety disorder, you were 4 times more likely to have high blood pressure. Read The Research>
The Impact of Mood and Anxiety Disorders on Incident Hypertension at One Year https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3941592/
High blood pressure has a dangerous effect on other areas of your health too. You are much more likely to have heart issues or even a stroke.
There is a knock on effect which comes directly from the anxiety. For this reason it is of crucial importance for you to do what you can to lower your anxiety levels.
Hormones have other effects on your physical health
High levels of anxiety can cause the following problems with your physical health.
- Heart problems – Palpitations, chest pain, atrial fibrillation, heart attack
- Breathing problems – Difficulty breathing, rapid breathing, panic attacks
- Digestive system problems – Stress related Diarrhea, nausea, stomach ulcers
- Immune system problems – Reduced immunity, poor healing
- High blood pressure – Increases danger of stroke and heart attack
How do you fix hormonal imbalance?
After reading this article you may be realising that hormones could be at the root of your anxiety issues. But what can you do to improve things?
The first thing you need to do is to get to the root of the issue and look at which of your hormones may be out of balance.
This short quiz by Power of Hormones is really useful as it gives you a breakdown of which of your hormones may be out of balance. It takes about 60 seconds. Check it out here [opens in separate window so you can come back here afterwards].
Once you understand which of your hormones may be at the root of your anxiety, you can start to do something about it. Unpicking hormone imbalances can be tricky but there are some lifestyle changes that can start to make a difference in how you feel.
- Eat enough protein.
- Avoid Sugar
- Avoid Processed foods
- Consume healthy fats
- Don’t over exercise
- Avoid low calorie diets
- Learn to manage stress better
- Eat fatty fish.
Whilst these changes can start to make an impact it is important to get to the bottom of the issue. Lifestyle changes alone may not be enough to make a difference.
For that reason it’s important to get a full picture of what is happening.
Hormone imbalances rarely happen with just one hormone alone. This may mean getting blood tests and checks done.
My free e-book which you can download here has a full breakdown of hormone related symptoms which will help you get a better idea of where to start in order to get your hormone driven anxiety under control.
Can a hormone imbalance cause anxiety?
Yes. Anxiety is a very real and often disabling condition. It can impact your life in so many ways. It is often caused by a hormone imbalance.
You may even begin to doubt your own sanity and wonder if your brain is just broken. It can feel hopeless and that you can’t do anything about it.
Take control of your anxiety
If you have tried different lifestyle approaches but nothing has worked it may be time to look at your hormones as the source of your anxiety.
If you can get to the bottom of your hormone imbalance then a few simple changes may be enough to improve your life.
Have you struggled with weight gain, depression, low libido, fatigue, and other seemingly un-related symptoms?
Just don’t feel like your old self…
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