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How Are Hormones And Anxiety Related?

Faiq Shaikh, M.D.
How Are Hormones And Anxiety Related?

Anxiety is known as a psychological/mental health disorder, and at its core, it is. But scientists now know that your genetics and current physical health can play a very significant role in both the development of anxiety and how it manifests. For example, it's known that low levels of serotonin - a common neurotransmitter - may lead to anxiety and depression, which is why drugs that improve the flow of serotonin are prescribed for anxiety.

Hormones also appear to play a significant role in anxiety development. Those that feel as though their anxieties appeared over time despite effective coping strategies and a high overall quality of life may be suffering from hormonal anxiety, caused by any number of problems with hormone balance.

You May Never Know the Cause of Your Anxiety

The truth is that it's almost impossible to know the exact cause of your anxiety. Your hormonal imbalance may have caused your anxiety, but your anxiety may also have caused your hormonal imbalance, and in some cases the imbalance may have no effect on anxiety whatsoever.

Hormones that Cause Anxiety

Anxiety hormone imbalance has the potential to cause anxiety, because anxiety is often caused by those whose bodies are under stress trying to operate efficiently. It's the reason that those who don't exercise and those who eat an unhealthy diet often have anxiety as well - without exercise or nutrition, your body struggles to function. In addition, hormones are the messengers to the brain. Without hormones, your body may not produce the right amount of neurotransmitters, and anxiety may be the result.

That said, some examples of hormones that may contribute to anxiety include:

Again, nearly any type of hormonal dysfunction can contribute to anxiety, because the body often responds to poorly functioning hormones with stress. But the three examples above tend to be the most common hormones that cause anxiety.

Does Hormonal Anxiety Require Hormonal Therapy?

What is perhaps most interesting about anxiety, however, is that even if your anxiety is caused by a change in hormones, it rarely requires any hormonal therapy. Those in natural medicine often talk about the mind/body connection, and many of those that support research-based treatments laugh at the idea that the mind can genuinely affect the body, and vice versa.

But it's well known that nearly all forms of anxiety at all levels of severity can be reduced, and possibly even cured, with some type of psychological treatment. Whether it's cognitive behavioral therapy or something else, mental health treatments are effective at helping fight anxiety at all levels of severity, including those caused by hormonal issues.

Does that mean that hormonal therapies won't work? It depends on the hormone. In some cases, such as with thyroid hormone, it may be beneficial to receive a thyroid treatment, and those treatments may be enough to counter your anxiety. Nevertheless, anxiety is a condition that most can treat without any hormonal therapies or supplements, even if hormones are the cause.

How to Cure Hormonal Anxiety

It's also important to remember that hormonal imbalances may not be the cause of anxiety. While poorly functioning hormones can be a contributing factor, many of those with hormonal imbalances showed signs of anxiety previously. In some cases anxiety may be caused almost exclusively by hormones, but in many cases it is a combination of hormones and previous mental health problems, or may have nothing to do with hormones at all.

Yet no matter what the cause of your anxiety - even if it's something physical - you can treat it using psychological techniques. Your mind is incredibly powerful, and it can learn to control anxiety even when that anxiety is related to a hormonal imbalance.

Article Resources
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  2. Pigott TA. Gender differences in the epidemiology and treatment of anxiety disorders. J Clin Psychiatry. 1999;60 Suppl 18:4-15. Review. PubMed PMID:10487250.
  3. Toufexis DJ, Myers KM, Davis M. The effect of gonadal hormones and gender on anxiety and emotional learning. Horm Behav. 2006 Nov;50(4):539-49. Epub 2006 Aug 14. Review. PubMed PMID: 16904674. 
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