Hormone imbalance and anxiety: How do hormones affect your mental health?
Many people are suffering from mental health for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons can be due to hormonal activity, which can affect mood and cause depression and anxiety.
Can hormone imbalance cause anxiety?
Hormone imbalance is more common in women (although it can occur in men) as a result of reduced oestrogen production which can take place due to:
- premenstrual syndrome
- postnatal depression
- and thyroid issues
Research shows that there is a connection between hormone imbalance and depression and anxiety when hormone levels are not balanced, sometimes caused by the above life events.
Hormone imbalance anxiety is a serious condition and can affect anyone. For some people it is so serious they cannot go about their daily lives and constantly feel tired, unable to concentrate and lose their ability to function normally. Other people may just suffer from bad days when they feel emotional and down, and the next they feel fine again. Whatever the level of anxiety you may be experiencing, understanding why it’s happening is the key to managing it.
What are the hormones that can cause anxiety and depression?
There are several different types of hormones in the body that can affect emotional well-being. Those that can cause hormone imbalance anxiety are:
Cortisol and adrenaline
These affect stress levels and also help us to cope with difficult situations. They are the reason for the ‘fight or flight’ feeling we sometimes get when we feel we’re at breaking point. We all deal with stress in different ways. Some people are more able to deal with stress than others. But when it’s due to a hormonal imbalance it can have a serious effect on your body.
Known as the sex hormones, oestrogen and testosterone can affect mood and cause anxiety. We’ve all heard about PMT (pre-menstrual tension), and this can be serious when it presents as premenstrual anxiety disorder. Likewise, women’s hormones fluctuate during puberty, pregnancy and menopause and can cause severe mood swings.
The thyroid hormones
A common condition linked to the thyroid hormone is an overactive thyroid gland, which can result in thyroid hormone imbalance anxiety. Symptoms are feeling anxious, restless and irritable which can occur when there is an increase in blood flow to this gland.
Suffering from an imbalance of any of these hormones can be debilitating, even if you know the reason, for example going through the menopause. Many women feel like their life is out of control and don´t know how to deal with the problem. As a result, hormone balance is often ignored, hoping ‘it will go away in time’.
What are the signs of hormone imbalance anxiety?
If you’re suffering from anxiety, you may think it’s just a temporary disorder. Sometimes it is, depending on the root of the problem, but it’s important to understand the signs and why you are experiencing hormone imbalance anxiety.
If you’re going through any major life changes such as pregnancy or the menopause you may be worrying, feel nervous, and have mood changes for no reason. However, you could also be experiencing these symptoms without any explanation.
Before things get worse you should talk to your doctor, even if you feel you know why the problem is happening. They will diagnose and reassure you and may make you see a bigger picture you haven´t realised is causing your anxiety.
This disorder is nothing to be ashamed of, for whatever reason you have it, as most people have suffered from some form of anxiety in their lives. The good news is, it’s more widely recognised these days and not seen as something to be embarrassed about.
Are panic attacks linked to hormone imbalance anxiety?
Hormone imbalance anxiety and panic attacks are linked and are a warning that your body cannot cope with a situation. When you suffer a panic attack you may feel like you cannot breathe, you’re going to faint or be sick and even like you may be having a heart attack. This is a result of an anxious situation and the body releasing too many hormones, which it cannot cope with.
If you are suffering from panic attacks due to a hormone imbalance you should talk to a doctor to find the cause of the attacks and how you can resolve them.
How can you get rid of hormonal anxiety?
Medical treatment may not always be necessary and can often mask the problem. A blood test can determine your hormone levels and if you have an imbalance and once you have the results you can decide on a course of action.
Some tips to reduce your anxiety levels are:
- eat a healthy and balanced diet
- take plenty of exercise – even a walk each day will improve how you feel and make you feel good through the release of endorphins into your body
- avoid alcohol
- avoid caffeine
- do not smoke
- focus on your goals and plan how you will achieve them
- spend time on yourself relaxing and doing something you enjoy
Whether you’re suffering from hormone imbalance anxiety due to your body going through life changes or your body is overproducing certain hormones for another reason it’s important to acknowledge the issue. Looking after yourself and your body will help reduce your anxiety levels.
Endocrine disorders and anxiety
Another cause of anxiety is endocrine disorders, which are caused by endocrine gland deficiencies. The endocrine system consists of eight main glands, for example, the thyroid, pituitary, adrenal and pancreas. An imbalance of hormones can affect how these glands work. But what are the endocrine disorders that cause anxiety? Those linked with anxiety and depression are:
- inflamed thyroid glands
- some psychiatric disorders
- Addison’s disease
- Cushing’s disease
- chronic exhaustion
Just because you are feeling anxious doesn´t mean you’re suffering from any of the above, and you should always get a correct diagnosis from your doctor for any form of anxiety.
Written in collaboration with Sandrine Tran, Cécile Da Cunha and Audrey Boulier