The Hormone + Anxiety Link:
How do your hormones influence anxiety?
“Living with anxiety is like being followed by a voice. It knows all your insecurities and uses them against you. It gets to the point when it's the loudest voice in the room. The only one you can hear.” -anonymous
I remember coming across this quote on Instagram, it rung true and it had an impact on a large number of people who had liked and commented alongside me. Anxiety can often lead one to feel secluded as insecurities and fears run and loop that crowd out other thoughts. However, anxiety is by no means a solitary struggle and approximately 18% of the population, over 40 million American adults, have reported some form of anxiety disorder according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. What's more, women are more than twice as likely to get an anxiety disorder in their lives.
Many women seek out help from a doctor, which by the way, we always advise as to the first and best choice. Sometimes anxiety is an emotional response, sometimes it’s a chemical response, and sometimes it’s both. Hormones are a key chemical influence that affects anxiety on a multitude of levels and frequencies. If hormones are indeed at the root of your anxiety, there are a number of ways to soothe and manage the symptoms naturally.
How do your hormones influence anxiety?
Cortisol Induced Anxiety: Cortisol is a hot topic right now, in fact, it's one of our favorite topics and for very good reason. Cortisol is a “get up and go” hormone- it helps us wake up in the morning and turns on when we need to move our body quickly. However, it is often referred to as the “stress hormone” because is it activated by physical or emotional strain. When cortisol is consistently elevated or depleted you can experience something referred to as Adrenal Fatigue. The repercussions can be pretty horrendous on both our physical and mental health - affecting mood, energy levels, sleep rhythm and of course, anxiety. We have previously written about optimizing your cortisol production, which we encourage you to read - Tips for Managing Cortisol.
Thyroid & Anxiety: The thyroid is a butterfly-shaped gland in the front of the neck that produces hormones to control how you use up energy, your temperature, your weight, and many other regulatory processes. When thyroid function is disrupted it can have harmful effects. When the thyroid is underactive, this is called hypothyroidism and if it is overactive it is called hyperthyroidism. If you suffer from either of these conditions one of the key symptoms is anxiety. To put it in context, around 12 percent of the US population will develop a thyroid condition - most definitely something to keep an eye on!
Estrogen Induced Anxiety: Women with low progesterone and estrogen levels are often likely to suffer from anxiety in some form. This is why many women of all ages can feel panicky and anxious during PMS or around menopause. Estrogen specifically helps to transport serotonin (a natural mood stabilizer) around the body. Therefore, when estrogen is at a low level in the body, you will often find your mood and anxiety are at their worst.
How you can manage anxiety naturally:
Medications often prescribed by doctors help manage and block many of the symptoms of anxiety, however, they are not always effective in treating the root causes. In some cases, this can cause more harm than good, especially if it’s the only long-term option offered. With that in mind, there are a couple of natural supplements that can work at the root of your hormonal anxiety and help ease anxiety in a healthy and sustainable way.
Ashwagandha: One of our favorites, this adaptogen enhances the body's ability to respond to different forms of stress. In tandem, it is known to normalize cortisol levels that are linked to stress and anxiety.
L-Theanine: This is often referred to as nature's Xanax and in turn is taking over the vitamin aisle. We particularly like L-Theanine because it has the ability to calm the body without giving up mental clarity.
Rhodiola Rosea: This is another fabulous adaptogen that has been shown to stimulate serotonin and dopamine activity in the body, both of which are very important neurotransmitters that are believed to be key to a happy and healthy cognitive function.
Beyond all, if you are suffering high levels of anxiety or are feeling especially low, please do seek out medical advice. There are many reasons you may be feeling anxious and in turn many options for treatment. Whether this is medication to help balance your thyroid or cognitive behavioral therapy to help train your mind to overcome social anxieties, a medical professional is trained to offer you the help you need - please don't suffer in silence.