Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health concerns, and often, people wonder: what hormone causes anxiety? The truth is, a complex combination of several hormones contributes to both short-term and chronic anxiety.
How hormones affect anxiety
Hormones are chemical messengers that play a role in many bodily functions, including mood, stress response, and sleep. When hormone levels are out of balance, it can lead to symptoms of anxiety.
Additionally, regular hormonal changes, like the drop in estrogen and progesterone that happens at the end of the menstrual cycle, can cause anxiety and other mood symptoms.
Anxiety hormones are produced during a fear response, whether that fear is real or perceived. The hormones help you prepare for threats and get ready for action. But if there is nothing to act upon, you may be left feeling anxious.
What hormone causes anxiety?
There is no single hormone that causes anxiety. However, cortisol is often considered to be the primary hormone involved in anxiety. This is because cortisol levels are typically elevated in people with anxiety disorders.
Several hormones can contribute to anxiety, including:
- Cortisol: Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone“. It is released by the adrenal glands in response to stress. Cortisol helps to increase blood sugar levels, heart rate, and blood pressure. In the short term, this can be helpful in dealing with stressful situations. However, chronic exposure to high levels of cortisol can lead to anxiety, depression, and other health problems.
- Adrenaline: Adrenaline is another hormone that is released in response to stress. It is responsible for the “fight-or-flight” response. Adrenaline can cause physical symptoms of anxiety, such as rapid heart rate, sweating, and trembling.
- Thyroid hormones: The thyroid gland produces hormones that regulate metabolism. When thyroid hormone levels are too high or too low, it can cause anxiety, irritability, and mood swings.
- Sex hormones: Estrogen and progesterone are the two main female sex hormones. Fluctuations in these hormones can contribute to anxiety, especially during times of hormonal change, such as puberty, pregnancy, and menopause.
Behavioral changes that can manage anxiety
While hormones are a factor in anxiety, it’s important to remember that you’re not simply at your body’s whims when it comes to anxiety. Here are a few ways to manage anxiety from a behavioral standpoint:
- Regular Exercise: Physical activity releases endorphins, which have mood-boosting effects and can reduce stress hormones like cortisol. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
- Mindfulness and Relaxation Practices: Techniques like meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga, or tai chi can help calm the mind and body, reducing anxiety symptoms.
- Progressive Muscle Relaxation: This involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups to promote physical and mental relaxation.
- Consistent Sleep Schedule: Aim to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends, to regulate your body’s natural sleep-wake cycle.
- Create a Relaxing Bedtime Routine: Engage in calming activities before bed, such as reading, taking a warm bath, or listening to soothing music.
- Eat Regular Meals: Avoid skipping meals, as low blood sugar can worsen anxiety symptoms.
- Choose Nutrient-Rich Foods: Focus on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats.
- Limit Caffeine and Alcohol: These substances can interfere with sleep and exacerbate anxiety.
- Therapy: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help you identify and challenge negative thought patterns that contribute to anxiety.
- Medication: In some cases, medication may be prescribed to help manage anxiety symptoms.
- Time Management: Prioritize tasks and break down large projects into smaller, more manageable steps.
- Social Connection: Spend time with supportive friends and family.
- Set Boundaries: Learn to say no to commitments that overwhelm you.
- Self-Care: Engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.
While there’s no single answer to the question, “What hormone causes anxiety?”, understanding the intricate relationship between hormones and anxiety can help you navigate your symptoms more effectively. By implementing behavioral changes like stress management techniques, healthy sleep habits, a balanced diet, and seeking professional support, you can take control of your anxiety and enhance your overall well-being.
If you’re struggling with anxiety, remember that you’re not alone. Our team of therapists at Modern Era Counseling specializes in providing compassionate and evidence-based treatment for anxiety disorders. We understand the impact anxiety can have on your life, and we’re here to support you on your journey toward recovery.
Don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Give us a call at (704) 800-4436 or shoot us an email to get matched with a therapist who can help you develop personalized strategies to manage your anxiety and live a more fulfilling life.