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How Anxiety May Cause Weight Loss

Denise Griswold, MSc, LCAS
How Anxiety May Cause Weight Loss

It's well known that an individual’s health, including their weight, can contribute to or exacerbate anxiety. In fact, inactivity is one of the most common mistakes for those living with anxiety symptoms. Exercise reduces muscle tension, releases neurotransmitters that boost mood, burn away stress hormone, and help your body function properly - all of which are important for maintaining low levels of anxiety or avoiding anxiety altogether. Those who don't exercise become more prone to developing anxiety. Statistics have shown that many with anxiety have weight management issues.

What you may not realize is that many of those living with anxiety also appear to have weight loss. Weight loss isn't necessarily an "anxiety symptom," but there does appear to be a significant number of people that lose weight with anxiety.

Being Safe With Weight Loss

Weight loss is generally seen as a good thing, but it's important that you lose weight safely. If you're losing weight without a healthy diet or exercise, then you're putting your body through a great deal of stress. Unexplained weight loss may indicate another health problem in addition to or instead of anxiety. 

Why You Lose Weight

Stress and anxiety are commonly associated with weight gain, and for a good reason - during times of anxiety, the body releases heavy amounts of cortisol, which is a hormone that contributes to weight gain - especially around the midsection. Anxiety also causes further inactivity as people stop engaging in many activities, which can also increase weight gain.

Yet for various reasons, weight loss is also a problem that may occur with anxiety. There are several factors that cause this weight loss to occur:

It's important to remember that anxiety itself makes you worry about things that shouldn't necessarily be worried. Weight loss may also simply occur naturally. But if you were not suspecting to lose weight, this can cause significant health concerns. It's simply the nature of anxiety to cause people to worry about their health.

Thyroid Conditions and Weight Loss

It should be noted that one of the few causes of anxiety that is purely physical is the development of hyperthyroid. With too much thyroid hormone, your metabolism is too fast and this can cause rapid weight loss. Hyperthyroidism may also be a cause of anxiety.

That's why, even though anxiety is often the cause of unexplained weight loss in people living with anxiety, it's still a good idea to check with a doctor. There are many simple tests to rule out hyperthyroidism.

Is There a Treatment?

Treating weight loss isn't necessarily related to anxiety itself. You simply need to make sure you're eating, talk to a doctor to rule out other symptoms, and keep exercising to ensure that you're promoting good health. There is nothing you can do in the short term to regain weight that's healthy for your body.

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