Can hormone imbalance cause anxiety?

Hormone imbalances in women can indeed contribute to anxiety. Conditions like hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid gland) and Cushing's syndrome (high levels of cortisol) are known to cause anxiety symptoms. Additionally, fluctuations in sex hormones, particularly estrogen and progesterone, play a significant role in mood regulation and can lead to increased anxiety at different times in a woman's life, such as during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause​​​​.

Estrogen affects mood by inducing higher levels of serotonin, known as the "happiness hormone," during the first two weeks of the menstrual cycle. However, estrogen levels drop dramatically in the latter half of the cycle if no pregnancy occurs, leading to changes in mood or increased anxiety for many women. As many as 80% of women of reproductive age experience physical, mood, or anxiety symptoms during this phase of their cycle​​.

Low levels of testosterone in women have also been linked to increased anxiety, though testosterone is typically considered a male hormone. Clinical evidence suggests that testosterone has positive effects on anxiety and depression across all sexes, although the mechanisms are not fully understood​​.

Stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, when triggered in non-threatening situations, can leave the body feeling anxious due to their accumulation without an outlet, further exacerbating feelings of stress and anxiety​​.

Thyroid hormones affect mood as well, with imbalances leading to symptoms of anxiety, restlessness, and nervousness. A recent study even suggests that autoimmune inflammation of the thyroid might be significantly linked to the development of anxiety disorders​​.

For women experiencing anxiety that may be related to hormone imbalances, it's crucial to consult with healthcare providers. They can offer diagnostic tests, such as thyroid function tests or hormone level assessments, and discuss potential treatment options that may include hormone therapy, lifestyle modifications, or anxiety management strategies.

For more details, read our blogs in Health Library.

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