It’s no secret that hormonal fluctuations can cause all sorts of physical and emotional changes as we age. Unfortunately, these changes seemingly lead to anxiety and other mental health concerns for some people. But, is it really the hormones themselves that are to blame? Or could there be other factors at play?
Let’s take a closer look at the link between hormone imbalance and anxiety, and explore some possible causes. We’ll also examine other symptoms that come with hormonal imbalance and offer tips for coping with these challenges.
What Is Anxiety?
According to the American Psychological Association, anxiety is an unpleasant and sometimes debilitating condition characterized by feelings of tension, worry, and physical problems like high blood pressure. Many people with anxiety disorders experience recurring thoughts or concerns they can’t control. As a result, they may be reluctant to do certain things because of their apprehension, and experience physical symptoms such as sweating, shaking, and dizziness, and a fast heart rate is also common.
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What Causes Anxiety?
From an evolutionary standpoint, anxiety is an emotional reaction that aids in surviving dangers or threats. However, in today’s world, we don’t often come face-to-face with the same types of threats that our ancestors did. This means that, for some people, anxiety can become a chronic condition without an obvious trigger.
Several different factors can contribute to anxiety, including:
- Genetics – Anxiety can be hereditary, so if you have a family member who suffers from an anxiety disorder, you may be more likely to experience anxiety.
- Brain chemistry – An imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain, such as serotonin and GABA, has been linked to anxiety disorders.
- Environmental factors – Stressful life events, such as the death of a loved one or a significant life change like a cross-country move, can trigger anxiety.
- Medical conditions and medication – Some physical illnesses, such as heart disease and thyroid problems, can cause anxiety. In addition, certain medicines, such as those used to treat high blood pressure and asthma, can also cause anxiety as a side effect.
- Hormone imbalances – Fluctuations in hormones, such as estrogen and testosterone, have been linked to anxiety.
It’s worth noting that not everyone who experiences a hormone imbalance will develop anxiety. However, research suggests that there are links between the two. So let’s take a closer look at how hormone imbalances affect anxiety levels.
How Hormone Imbalance Can Affect Anxiety
Many different hormones play a role in anxiety, including:
Estrogen – Estrogen is a hormone that’s present in both men and women, though women have much higher levels of it. This hormone is thought to play a role in regulating mood and emotion. When estrogen levels are out of balance, it can lead to anxiety, depression, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.
Progesterone – Progesterone is another hormone in both men and women. In women, progesterone levels rise during ovulation and pregnancy. This hormone regulates the menstrual cycle and prepares the body for pregnancy. When progesterone levels are too low, it can lead to anxiety and other issues like depression, irritability, and difficulty sleeping.
Testosterone – Testosterone is a hormone primarily found in men, but both men and women have it. This hormone is responsible for muscle growth, sex drive, and fertility. The complexities of low testosterone are still being examined. Still, there have been studies that suggest links between low testosterone levels and anxiety. Again, this is true for both men and women, who may also experience concurrent disorders like depression.
Cortisol – Cortisol is a hormone that’s produced by the adrenal glands. This hormone is responsible for regulating stress levels in the body. When cortisol levels are too high, it can lead to various issues, including anxiety disorders.
How to Cope with Hormone Imbalance-Related Anxiety
If you suspect that you may be suffering from a hormone imbalance, you can start with at-home hormone testing as part of the diagnostic process. Once your hormone levels have been checked and a diagnosis has been made, different treatment options may help improve your symptoms, including:
Bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) – Hormone replacement therapy involves taking hormones to bring your levels back into balance. This treatment is popular among women experiencing menopause or perimenopause to cope with symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats. However, both men and women may enjoy the benefits of BHRT.
BHRT is different from traditional hormone replacement therapy in that the hormones used are identical to the ones your body naturally produces. This makes them more accessible for your body to absorb and less likely to cause side effects.
Therapy or Counseling – Therapy or counseling are effective options that can be used to help treat anxiety. From dry skin and thinning hair to anxiety and moodiness, hormone imbalances can cause various symptoms. Therapy or counseling can be used in conjunction with hormone replacement therapy to help you understand and cope with changes your body has gone through and what you’re experiencing as you bring things back into alignment.
Lifestyle changes – Make specific lifestyle changes, such as regular exercise, eating a healthy diet, and reducing stress to help improve your symptoms.
Medication – When hormone imbalances alone aren’t the cause of anxiety, there may be a need for a doctor or psychiatrist-prescribed medication. Common medications used to treat anxiety disorders include antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, and beta-blockers.
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Other Symptoms of Hormone Imbalance
In addition to anxiety, hormone imbalances can also cause several other symptoms, including:
- Weight gain
- Memory problems
- Mood swings
- Difficulty sleeping
- Hot flashes
- Night sweats
- Vaginal dryness
- Erectile dysfunction
- Low sex drive
You Deserve a Life Free of Anxiety
If you’re struggling with anxiety, it’s essential to seek treatment. Hormone imbalances can play a role in anxiety, so if you suspect this may be a factor for you, be sure to take this short quiz to see if hormone replacement therapy is right for you. There are many different treatment options available that can help you find relief. So, don’t suffer in silence — get the help you need to live a happy, healthy life.