Can hormones cause anxiety in women? What is the relationship and helpful tips
Life itself can sometimes feel like a pressure cooker, with stressors coming from all directions. A poll undertaken by YouGov sampled over 4,600 individuals; in which 74% felt so stressed that they felt overwhelmed and unable to cope. With stress comes a stream of mental health triggers and more specifically, anxiety.
The question this brings us to is whether or not the cause of anxiety is external or internal. With staggering statistics stated by YouGov, we are posed with a similar quandary to the situation between the egg and the chicken – but instead, relating to hormones and anxiety.
So back to the question of could a hormonal imbalance be the cause of your anxiety? In short, yes it very well could be! Hormones in general have a huge impact on mood, and therefore an imbalance can most certainly affect the quality of life. Although anxiety can be linked to other causes, the role of hormones cannot be ignored; for both men and women.
Let’s begin with sex hormones
There are two main sex hormones in women, which aid in managing reproductive functions. These two hormones that complement and balance one another are progesterone and oestrogen.
That being said, should an imbalance take place, whether that’s due to pregnancy, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD) or menopause it could have serious negative effects on hormonal anxiety. A study has actually shown that a link between women who experience severe PMS due to low progesterone levels are at risk of developing postpartum depression after pregnancy. Coupling these with stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol, makes the chances of anxiety occurring more likely.
Thyroid hormones and are they essential for mental maturation?
Thyroid hormones are essential for brain development and function throughout life. An imbalance with thyroid hormones can either result in having an overactive thyroid, or an underactive one. So what does this mean?
An overactive thyroid, also known as hyperthyroidism or thyrotoxicosis, is where the thyroid gland produces too much of the thyroid hormones. Familiar signs of this would be nervousness, irritability, and anxiety.
On the flip side, an underactive thyroid gland, known as hypothyroidism, is where your thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones. Common symptoms for this include tiredness, weight gain, and depression.
With both of these conditions, it is quite easy to mistake the signs for external pressures of everyday life, which is why they often get left undiagnosed and untreated.
Are there any hormones that have a positive effect on mental health?
Yes, there is indeed. Moving on to a hormone that provides a more positive effect on our mental health is oxytocin; also referred to as the ‘love drug’. The ‘happy hormone’ gets its curious name from being linked to compassion, trust, sex, and relationship building – with levels known to increase during hugging and orgasm.
Having the power to regulate our emotive responses and behaviours, means that oxytocin can reduce and regulate anxiety through different types of stimuli.
What about hormonal fluctuation during menopause and perimenopause?
Night sweats, poor sleep, weight gain, anxiety – for women of a certain age, signs like these are often written off as the inescapable symptoms of menopause or early menopause, often known as perimenopause.
For women, as oestrogen and progesterone levels change and reduce, we begin to experience hot flushes, irritability, low libido, vaginal dryness, and anxiety to name a few. These symptoms can begin years before the periods stop (known as perimenopause), and last around 5 years after the periods stop.
Since menopause is not a new notion, there are many treatment options available to combat the unpleasant symptoms, however many people find them ineffective, and some have even found them to make the symptoms worse.
To help combat menopause and perimenopause, bioidentical hormone replacement is a new and innovative tailored treatment within the medical field. Whilst alleviating the symptoms of menopause and perimenopause, it also counteracts the effects of ageing and disease in both men and women. More can be read about this in the next section.
Struggling with hormonal imbalances? Here are some tips on how what you can do to help and lessen anxiety
For those who have been through the emotional rollercoaster of hormonal imbalances, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Here you can find the top tips on how to navigate through hormone-related anxiety, menopause, and perimenopause.
1) Bioidentical hormone replacement
Bioidentical hormones are a real breakthrough in the treatment of menopause and andropause for both women and men respectively, leading us on to bioidentical hormone replacement. Bio ID, which is a new and unique treatment, was created to mimic natural hormone production in the body; alleviating those not-so-subtle symptoms of menopause and andropause.
Prescriptions are unique to your individual needs and hormone levels and are designed to help your body cope with the changes, alleviating many of those uncomfortable and difficult symptoms.
2) Diet and nutrition
Lifestyle choices contribute massively to hormonal imbalances, such as poor diet and nutrition. Research has proven that filling your diet with fibre-rich foods, fermented foods, and omega-3s can ease levels of anxiety.
3) A good nights sleep
As simple as it may sound, but getting a good night’s sleep during menopause and perimenopause is essential to having a good and healthy hormonal balance. Not enough sleep can affect your body’s power to manage stress hormones and can result in high blood pressure.
To help with this, it is good to get into a routine of going to sleep at the same time every night, in effect helping your body’s internal clock.
Sucker for a nap? That’s okay, as long as it’s kept between 15-20 minutes in the early afternoon.
Lastly, lavender is commonly suggested as a great natural remedy in conquering insomnia.
4) Exercise for the mind and soul
Exercise is known to reduce the levels of cortisol and adrenaline, whilst producing the endorphins – often known as ‘feel good’ chemicals. Endorphins are produced naturally by the nervous system and help individuals to cope with stress and pain. So get on those trainers and get active!
Exercise is not only physically important but mentally too. This is where meditation comes into play. Research has shown that meditation helps to reduce stress hormones and increases a beneficial hormone called DHEA, which is the building block for hormone production and a natural anti-aging hormone.