How Hormonal Imbalance Affect Anxiety

Studies show that there are three major factors that lead to the development of anxiety disorders. These three major factors are:

  • genetics
  • life experiences, and
  • hormonal imbalance

Anxiety disorders often run in families. When parents or someone in the family has anxiety disorder, children are at higher risk of having anxiety disorder as well. For this reason, families with known anxiety disorder are advised to have a healthy and happy environment at home to prevent their children on developing the said disorder.

Life experiences can also be a triggering factor for developing anxiety disorder. Life lived with violence and abuse, traumatic experiences, sudden loss of a loved one, poverty, loss of a job, stressful work environment, low socio-economic status, unstable home life, difficult relationships, divorce and other negative experiences are few of the experiences that can lead to anxiety disorder often accompanied by depression. One major factor in anxiety disorder is the hormonal imbalance or the brain chemistry.

Anxiety Hormones – How Hormonal Imbalance Can Cause Anxiety

Researches show that women are more prone to depression and anxiety disorder compared to men because of hormonal imbalance or hormonal fluctuations. Several periods of hormonal change include puberty, monthly menstruation periods, birth of a child and perimenopause. During these times, women may experience insomnia, rapid heartbeat, hot flashes, irritability, mood swings, sweating, nervousness and other anxiety symptoms.

Hormones have receptors throughout the brain thus largely affect the neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers which regulates the thoughts and feelings of a person that passes through one brain cell to another. When there is a hormonal imbalance, there would be a problem with brain messages that are sent out.

Few of the anxiety hormones are listed below:

  • Serotonin plays a vital role for a person to have a good night sleep. Low levels of serotonin can lead to panic disorder, depression, aggression and hyperactive bladder. High level of serotonin also lowers the appetite of a person.
  • Dopamine controls almost the whole body – the digestion, muscle control, heart, ovulation, and water retention and milk production. High level of dopamine can increase anger and aggression while low level of dopamine can lead to depression, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia and incoherent thoughts.
  • Estrogen increases serotonin and beta-endorphins which result to positive mood states. However, estrogen fluctuations can make women experience anxiety, mood swings and depression. Low estrogen symptoms include depression, hot flashes, headaches, sleep problems, urine leakage and memory lapses. High estrogen symptoms include abdominal weight, ovarian cyst, increased premenstrual symptoms and heavy bleeding.
  • Progesterone is important in the regulation of the menstrual cycles of women. However, it increases level of a brain chemical that causes irritability in women and depression usually a week before menstruation.

Hormonal changes trigger the “fight or flight” responses to threatening situations or whenever a person perceived danger. Our bodies then send out cortisol and adrenaline that make us more focus on the situation we are in and prepare against in any danger. These “fight or flight” responses can be very overwhelming that can trigger to physiological changes such as increased blood pressure, muscle tension, rapid heartbeat, sweating and other symptoms. These responses can be converted to anxiety disorder overtime when left untreated.

Cognitive-behavioral techniques, relaxation changes, healthy lifestyle and regular exercise can help women improved their well-being and prevent anxiety and depression from happening. There are also lots of articles that can be found on the Internet which discusses other strategies that can be used.

In addition to hormonal imbalances foods can play a major role in your level of anxiety. This post on foods that cause anxiety is recommended reading.

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