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Which Hormones Cause Anxiety

If you’ve been struggling with anxiety for some time, you might have noticed that certain situations, thoughts or people can make you feel anxious. But it’s important to know that your hormones can also make you anxious. 

Knowing how your hormones can affect your anxious feelings can help you get better control of your anxiety.

In this blog post, we’ll help you understand which hormones can potentially make you anxious.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety, as defined by the American Psychological Association, is an unpleasant and sometimes debilitating condition characterized by feelings of tension, worry, fear, and physical symptoms such as high blood pressure.

It is normal to have some anxiety in our routine lives. If it persists for an extended period, it can develop into an anxiety disorder and become a serious health issue. Common anxiety disorders include Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety, Separation Anxiety, Panic Disorder, and Phobias.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety manifests in physical, mental, and emotional ways, presenting itself through a wide range of potential symptoms.

Symptoms of Anxiety

Emotional Symptoms

  • Nervousness
  • Feelings of unease, fear, or panic
  • Feelings of impending doom or danger
  • Feelings of being out of control
  • Irritability or feeling on edge
  • Excessive worry
  • Self-consciousness

Mental Symptoms

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Obsessive thoughts about a problem
  • Avoidance of feared situations

Physical Symptoms

  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid breathing
  • Heart palpitations
  • Trembling, blushing, or sweating
  • Nausea
  • Stomach aches
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Unexplained pains  
  • Cold, sweaty, or tingly hands or feet
  • Restlessness
  • Sleep difficulties

There is a complex relationship between hormones and anxiety. Hormonal imbalances may contribute to anxiety in some individuals, while increased anxiety can lead to hormonal changes in others. 

Which Hormones Cause Anxiety?

Although each hormone plays a crucial role in the body’s functioning, excessive or insufficient levels can lead to various complications.

Hence, understanding the hormones that can impact your mood and stress response is an important first step in reducing anxiety caused by hormonal imbalances. 

Hormones_and_Anxiety

First, let us go through the role of every hormone in developing anxiety.

1. Estrogen

Changes in sex hormone levels, specifically estrogen and testosterone, can impact your mood. This can lead to heightened levels of anxiety during periods of hormonal fluctuations, such as puberty, prior to menstruation, following pregnancy, and menopause.

In women, estrogen levels are elevated during the initial two weeks of the menstrual cycle, known as the follicular phase. This increase in estrogen can lead to higher levels of serotonin, commonly referred to as the neurotransmitter involved in regulating mood serotonin (feel good chemical), among other functions. Conversely, if pregnancy does not occur, estrogen levels decline significantly during the luteal phase, the last two weeks of a 28-day cycle.

2. Testosterone

A study conducted in 2015 found that women are more likely to experience anxiety disorder than men due to lower levels of testosterone in females compared to males. Testosterone has a beneficial impact on anxiety in both genders, and decreased testosterone levels have been associated with higher anxiety levels. 

However, testosterone is not the sole factor that causes anxiety. Anxiety is a complex condition influenced by various biological, psychological, and environmental factors.

3. Progesterone

Progesterone levels increase during ovulation and pregnancy. This hormone is responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle and preparing the body for pregnancy. Furthermore, progesterone has a calming effect on the brain due to its GABAergic activity, which can counterbalance anxiety. Insufficient progesterone levels can lead to anxiety.

4. Stress Hormones

Cortisol and adrenaline, known as stress hormones, are released when an individual perceives a threat or senses danger. These hormones trigger the fight-or-flight response, enabling the body to cope with the threat and prepare for action.

However, if an event or experience activates your stress hormones when you are not actually in danger, such as reading a stressful work email, your body will not utilize or release these hormones in response to fight-or-flight..

As a result, cortisol and adrenaline levels can increase, leaving you stressed and anxious. 

It’s the chronic stress that leads to the dysregulation of adrenaline and cortisol hormones, contributing to chronic anxiety and other health issues.

5. Thyroid Hormones

Thyroid hormones can impact both physical and mental well-being, influencing mood. An imbalance in these hormones can lead to various symptoms. 

For instance, hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) is commonly associated with symptoms such as anxiety, irritability, restlessness, and difficulty concentrating. This is because the excess thyroid hormones can stimulate the nervous system, leading to increased arousal and anxiety-like symptoms.

Conversely, hypothyroidism, an underactive thyroid, can cause anxiety, fatigue, depression, sluggishness, and difficulty concentrating. Insufficient levels of thyroid hormones can slow down bodily functions and metabolism, leading to feelings of tiredness and low mood.

A recent 2020 study suggested that individuals with thyroid inflammation, characterized by increased blood flow to the thyroid gland, are at a higher risk of developing anxiety.

6. Oxytocin

Oxytocin has a beneficial effect on anxiety and may contribute to its reduction. Oxytocin is commonly referred to as the “love hormone,” as the brain releases it during activities like hugging, cuddling, engaging in sexual intercourse, and even while a mother breastfeeds. 

Furthermore, the social bonding effects of oxytocin might contribute to reduced anxiety through improved social support. Therefore, elevated oxytocin levels may lead to decreased anxiety and stress.

7. Parathyroid Hormone

Anxiety has been linked to primary hyperparathyroidism, according to a 2007 study. However, diagnosing its clinical symptoms in older individuals can be challenging. 

Primary hyperparathyroidism is a condition where the parathyroid glands produce too much parathyroid hormone, leading to increased calcium levels. However, the relationship between this condition and anxiety is not fully understood.

8. Insulin and Glucagon

Insulin and glucagon play crucial roles in regulating blood sugar levels. Elevated blood sugar levels can affect the brain and contribute to mood disorders like anxiety. Similarly, dysregulated blood sugar levels, particularly hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), can lead to symptoms that mimic anxiety, such as shakiness, rapid heart rate, and irritability.

9. Growth Hormone

A 2021 review found that anxiety is clinically associated with growth hormone (GH) deficiency.  The specific mechanism linking growth hormone deficiency and anxiety is complex and not yet fully understood. The growth hormone exerts a regulatory effect on brain function, particularly in the area associated with anxiety. Notably, GH replacement therapy has shown promising results in reversing mood disorders.

Why Should You Consult a Qualified Functional Medicine Doctor for Treating Hormonal Anxiety?

Consulting a qualified functional medicine doctor for the diagnosis and treatment of anxiety can be beneficial for several reasons: 

1. Holistic Approach

Functional medicine doctors take a holistic approach to healthcare, considering the interconnectedness of various bodily systems. They focus on identifying the root causes of health issues, including hormonal imbalances, rather than merely treating the symptoms.

2. Personalized Treatment

Functional medicine doctors conduct comprehensive assessments, including detailed medical histories, laboratory tests, and lifestyle evaluations. This enables them to create personalized treatment plans tailored to the individual’s specific needs, addressing the underlying hormonal imbalances contributing to anxiety.

3. Focus on Prevention

Functional medicine doctors prioritize preventive care and lifestyle modifications to optimize health. They may recommend nutritional changes, stress management techniques, exercise programs, and supplements to support hormone balance and alleviate anxiety symptoms.

4. Collaboration with Other Healthcare Professionals

Functional medicine doctors often collaborate with other healthcare professionals, such as endocrinologists, psychiatrists, and nutritionists, to provide a multidisciplinary approach to patient care. This collaboration ensures a comprehensive evaluation and effective treatment plan for hormonal anxiety.

5. Patient Education

Functional medicine doctors aim to educate and empower patients to take an active role in their own healthcare. They provide guidance on self-care practices, lifestyle modifications, and stress management techniques, enabling patients to better manage their hormonal anxiety in the long term.

Final Thoughts

Is your quality of life compromised due to anxiety? Consider a functional medicine approach in order to get to the root cause rather than symptomatic treatment.

Functional Medicine provides a personalized approach to addressing anxiety by focusing on an individual’s nutritional well-being, physical activity, hormonal levels, and stress-coping strategies. This approach aims to overcome anxiety by thoroughly examining evaluating and removing potential underlying causes. 

If your symptoms are due to hormonal imbalances, the Dutch test can provide a comprehensive assessment. The Dutch test is a dried urine test for comprehensive hormone analysis that provides valuable insights into hormone metabolism.

So, don’t let anxiety hold you back and make you suffer in silence. With functional medicine, take charge of your mental health journey towards a healthier, happier life!

Download our Healthy Habit Tracker for Harmonising Hormonal Health

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Dr Menka Gupta

IFMCP, MSc, MBBS

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