Stress and anxiety are common problems nowadays. If you want to learn what hormone causes anxiety because you plan on tackling this issue, we are going to help you out. Read on and learn more about the effects of anxiety, its causes, and how to prevent and combat this problem.
Is it normal to feel anxious?
Everyone feels anxiety every now and then. This is a normal reaction to a stressful situation or one that puts pressure on us. It’s not wrong to feel a little bit anxious before an interview, an event where you have to deliver a speech or a happy occasion where you’re in the center of attention.
Let’s face it, everyone feels stressed at their own wedding or graduation ceremony when being in the spotlight simply feels overwhelming. Nonetheless, some people feel anxiety more than the average person and, for some, the problem can be chronic and it can seriously impair the way they behave and relate with others and their quality of life, in general.
What symptoms are usually related to anxiety?
Sometimes, we are so deeply involved in our work that we even fail to realize that we are struggling with anxiety. This problem can affect both men and women of all ages and it manifests itself in different ways.
Many people are completely aware of the fact they are feeling anxious and know how to distinguish anxiety signals from others that might indicate a psychological problem. For others, anxiety takes more time to reveal itself or to be recognized.
Here are some of the most common symptoms that might indicate you are suffering from anxiety. Keep in mind that these can differ on a case by case basis. If you’ve been under a lot of pressure lately due to changes in your life, the loss of someone dear or the pressure you have to cope with at work, you might feel some of the following:
Increased heartbeat: this is a common symptom that often accompanies a panic attack or, generally, a stressful situation.
Breathing difficulty: this symptom is commonly encountered in different health-related problems, but it can also indicate an anxiety issue as anxious people often start breathing more rapidly, especially when a panic attack is approaching.
Stomach problems: we say we feel butterflies in our stomach when we are nervous and this is quite alright if you feel them from time to time; however, if you frequently have an upset stomach or stomachache and you’ve also been coping with problems lately, you might be dealing with anxiety.
Headaches: this is a common symptom many of us have especially in stressful periods when we tend to focus a lot on problems and how to solve them. Headaches shouldn’t be ignored or treated superficially as they too might indicate a real anxiety problem.
Negative thoughts: what are anxiety or depression if not the names we usually give to bad feelings that we simply can’t shake off? During tough periods, anxiety often makes us feel vulnerable and only able to focus on the empty part of the glass. Negative thoughts and worries that are sometimes unjustified are other common anxiety symptoms.
Bad mood: when you’re constantly anxious and worried about what has happened or what could happen in the future, you simply lose your enjoyment of life and you are in a permanent bad mood that often increases your irritability as well.
Fatigue: anxiety can put a lot of strain on a person’s mental health and they often make them feel exhausted. Another reason why anxiety leads to fatigue is that those racing thoughts usually keep people up at night which means feeling tired during the day.
Loss of libido: if you’ve been having problems feeling aroused lately and this has nothing to do with your relationship with your partner, anxiety might be taking its toll.
Nausea: in extreme cases, anxiety can have such a strong effect on the person that it even makes them feel nauseous or lightheaded.
What happens in your body when you feel anxious?
As previously highlighted, anxiety can vary from person to person. Not everyone faces the same level of anxiety. For this reason, the symptoms and the long-term effects related to it vary tremendously.
In the initial stages, the common changes that occur in the body when you feel anxious include increased heart rate and accelerated breathing. These are normal reactions as the blood flow to the brain increases since you are about to face a difficult situation that requires concentration.
When you start feeling anxious, your body basically prepares you for the situation you are about to face. After the stressful situation passes, these symptoms start to subside.
However, if the level of anxiety one experiences is significant or constant, they feel these symptoms far more intensely and they can even feel that they cannot breathe anymore. Feeling nauseous or lightheaded are other common symptoms that show a person is struggling with a lot of anxiety.
What can cause anxiety?
There are multiple causes that can lead to anxiety. Some of the most common ones include stressful life situations prolonged over long periods of time. People who have lived in a war zone or who have been subject to violence or abuse are often affected by anxiety.
Being under constant stress at work or in a position that implies great responsibility and influences the lives of many people can also lead to anxiety. Severe medical conditions or substance abuse problems are other causes that can trigger this mental problem.
Anxiety is not always immediate, which makes it all the more difficult to spot and treat. In many cases, the negative effect of the above-mentioned circumstances builds up in time and the person can realize they’re dealing with anxiety even years after the traumatic period that triggered anxiety concluded.
What hormone causes anxiety?
There are different hormones that cause anxiety and, sometimes, a hormonal imbalance can be the actual cause of anxiety. Contrarily, it is also possible for somebody who’s having a hard time at work or in their private life to develop a hormonal imbalance due to anxiety and stress.
Hormones work as messengers transmitting information to the brain. They play an essential role in helping our bodies function properly and they are very sensitive to the external circumstances that influence our mood. This is the reason why we often blame hormones for different states of mind and we talk about ‘happiness’ hormones and ‘stress’ hormones, which, in fact, exist.
The ‘culprit’ that is related to anxiety is the stress hormone Cortisol. This hormone is tightly connected to stress and anxiety and it has a dual relationship with both of them. On the one hand, when we are under a lot of pressure and we feel anxiety, our bodies release Cortisol. On the other hand, high levels of cortisol in the body end up boosting the level of anxiety.
Cortisol occurs naturally in our body when we are faced with stressful situations. However, we can also produce more cortisol due to certain unhealthy habits such as lack of exercise or a poor diet that doesn’t contain enough essential nutrients.
Apart from cortisol, several other hormones can also contribute to anxiety. Sex hormones belong to this group. Not surprisingly, women often say they feel more anxious during periods when they suffer sex hormone changes such as pregnancy or menopause.
Another type of hormone that can enhance anxiety is the thyroid hormone. Higher anxiety levels are often present in people who have thyroid problems. Whether the thyroid gland is overactive or underactive, the lack or excess of thyroid hormones can affect the heart rate, increase hyperventilation, and promote anxiety.
How to prevent and treat anxiety?
There are several lifestyle changes you can implement in order to reduce anxiety and all of them will support your overall health:
Exercising: physical activity is one of the most efficient ways of reducing anxiety and stress. Whether you choose to swim, play basketball or take a dance course, you should exercise daily. Besides helping you cope with stress, exercise will also enable you to maintain a healthy weight and sleep better.
Eating a balanced diet: if your diet contains a lot of fast-food and sugary products, it’s time to make some changes to help your brain function better and keep those stress hormones under control. Fresh fruit and vegetables, protein, cereals, dairy products, and nuts should be part of your new diet.
Relaxing: anxiety is the opposite of relaxation. Therefore, if you want to defeat anxiety, you should find ways to relax. Do whatever it is that brings you joy: read, take a walk, watch a movie, go out with friends. All these can help you forget at least for a while about your problems, which will reduce anxiety.
Coping with anxiety is not easy, especially if this is a chronic problem that requires a specialist’s intervention and medical treatment. In conclusion, it is always better to prevent than to treat. If you believe you are affected by anxiety, try to make some lifestyle changes to reduce it.