Hormones & Anxiety: What’s the Relationship?
Anxiety is a complex condition that impacts many people globally. Take a closer look at the role hormones may have in anxiety.
Hormones & Anxiety: What’s the Relationship?
The human body is extraordinarily complex. It is made up of trillions of cells that create tissues, organs, and organ systems. All of these systems work together to keep you alive and healthy. But how exactly does your body manage to coordinate all of these systems simultaneously?
The answer is through your nervous system and the hormone system within your body, known as the endocrine system. These two systems work together to properly coordinate sleep, digestion, growth, development, sexual function, mood, and emotion regulation.
Hormones play a large role in your overall health, and the impact of hormones can be seen in many seemingly unrelated conditions. One such example is anxiety.
Below is a closer look at the relationship between anxiety and your hormones and everything you need to know about it.
What Is the Role of Hormones in the Body?
The body has only a couple of means of communicating information throughout the body. The two main ways the body coordinates actions to the body are the nervous and endocrine systems.
The nervous system is a fast-acting system that can quickly get information to and from the brain for processing. This is achieved through a network of specialized nerve cells throughout the body. This system is what allows you to have sensation and is what allows you to move.
The endocrine system, on the other hand, is as lower-acting but longer-lasting form of communication throughout the body. The endocrine system utilizes chemical messengers.
These chemical messengers, or hormones, are secreted from a hormone gland into the bloodstream where they travel through out the body until they bind to a receptor of the target tissue. Hormones play a role in the regulation of sleep, digestion, and even your response to stress.
Can a Hormone Imbalance Cause Anxiety?
Hormones are potent chemical messengers that tend to be tightly regulated by the body. While hormones tend to be controlled well, there are instances when hormone levels can stray away from their normal range.
This can cause a number of problems within the body ranging from digestive issues to a decline in mental wellbeing.
Amongst some of the most common signs of a hormonal imbalance is the development of anxiety. The body's natural stress response has a number of different hormones that can interact with it. If these hormones become imbalanced, it can cause stress-related disorders such as anxiety to develop.
How Do I Know If My Hormones Are Unbalanced?
Having a hormone imbalance is not outwardly apparent. You may have signs and symptoms that may point to the possibility of a hormone imbalance, but these cannot in and of themselves diagnose a hormone imbalance.
The only accurate way to understand if you have a hormone imbalance is to get a professional lab test to assess hormone levels within your body.
Many people put off lab testing because of the barriers that exist. The time commitment of making an appointment and the need to physically be in the office are common reasons that keep people from getting the answers they deserve.
OptiHealth at-home testing brings the lab tests you need to the comfort of your home. This added convenience can enable you to get the answers you need without the needless worry that comes from forgoing testing. OptiHealth provides your results in a simple, safe, and confidential online patient portal.
What Hormones Can Trigger Anxiety?
Anxiety is one of the more common symptoms of a hormone imbalance, but which hormones can contribute to stress-related conditions like anxiety? Below is a closer look at the hormones that may trigger symptoms like anxiety if they become imbalanced.
Oxytocin is a hormone that is released from the pituitary gland located within the brain. The hormone helps to promote a number of processes related to reproductive health, including contractions of the uterus during childbirth and lactation.
Oxytocin also has an impact on the brain. It is believed that oxytocin tends to play a role in the bonding process of parent and child. Elevations in oxytocin caused by birth are thought to help facilitate bonding.
While this prosocial effect of oxytocin has been seen, new evidence suggests that oxytocin may also contribute to antisocial behaviors and may lead to the development of mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.
Estrogen and Progesterone
Estrogen and progesterone are hormones that play a large role in the regulation of the menstrual cycle in individuals assigned to females at birth. While mostly considered sex hormones, these hormones can also impact your mental health.
The levels of these hormones are constantly changing throughout the menstrual cycle, and symptoms such as anxiety can occur as a result of drastic changes in hormone levels during the cycle.
Adrenaline and Cortisol
Two of the largest culprits when it comes to hormone-induced anxiety are adrenaline and cortisol. These two hormones regulate the body's natural stress response.
When there is a perceived threat, these two hormones are secreted, which causes a number of physiological changes, including an elevation of heart rate, increased respiration rate, and the suppression of immediately unnecessary bodily processes like digestion and the immune system.
These hormones essentially get your body into a heightened state where it can fight the perceived threat or flee.
While a physical perceived threat like seeing a bear on a hike may benefit from this heightened state, oftentimes, everyday stressors are misconstrued by the body as a physical threat resulting in symptoms of stress. Overtime chronic stress can lead to the development of anxiety.
The thyroid is an organ located in the neck, and it releases thyroid hormones known as T3 and T4. These hormones help to regulate your metabolic rate and a number of other bodily systems.
Having too high or too low thyroid hormone can impact your mood and may contribute to feelings of anxiety. If you suspect a thyroid imbalance you should consider getting a thyroid panel to better understand your thyroid levels.
What Does Hormonal Anxiety Feel Like?
Hormonal anxiety feels just like any other form of anxiety. Many people describe anxiety as a feeling of constant worry, nervousness, restlessness, and tenseness. While hormonal anxiety and mental anxiety feel the same, hormonal anxiety may benefit from treating the underlying hormonal imbalance.
If you suspect a hormonal imbalance, get tested by a reputable laboratory like Universal Diagnostic Laboratories.Getting your hormone levels assessed utilizing modern testing techniques can provide you with a quantifiable understanding of where your hormones stand.
With these tests, a health care provider maybe able to help you get on the road to recovery.
How Can I Stop Hormonal Anxiety?
Hormonal anxiety tends to be multifaceted in that it includes both hormonal and cognitive aspects. There is not a single way to cure anxiety and hormonal anxiety, but there are a number of things you can do that can help to support a healthier mind and body.
Below is a closer look at some ways you may be able to help stop hormonal anxiety.
Diet plays a large role in your overall health and wellness. The nutrition you intake on a daily basis can dictate how well your body is able to operate, and certain foods can even impact your hormone levels. Eating a healthy diet that is nutrient dense and well-rounded may be just what your body needs to help alleviate hormonal anxiety.
Exercise is another important aspect of general wellness. Routine physical exercise has countless benefits ranging from physical improvements in muscle mass and bone density to mental benefits of reducing cortisol levels.
Everyone has room for improvement in their lifestyle to optimize their health and wellness. Making simple changes to your lifestyle, like practicing good sleep habits, reducing your screen time, and taking time for yourself to practice mindfulness, can all have profound effects on your physical and mental health.
While some hormonal changes occur naturally, there are a number of imbalances that may benefit from hormone treatment. There are many treatment options when it comes to reestablishing healthy hormone levels.
If hormone imbalances are noted following laboratory testing, your physician may be able to recommend a treatment to help.
The Bottom Line
Anxiety and hormonal imbalances are more connected than many people realize. Alterations to hormones like estrogen, adrenaline, and even thyroid hormone may impact your ability to manage stress.
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