Anxiety affects 40 million adults in the U.S.
Women are twice as likely to have an anxiety disorder as men.
Do these sound familiar?
Are you anxious?
Are you nervous and irritable?
Do you often feel scared for no reason?
Do you feel impending doom?
Do you have feelings of panic?
Are you often ill at ease or worried?
We have all felt anxiety at certain times, but what about when it starts to happen more frequently and take over your life? These feelings are very uncomfortable and can interfere with your daily activities. Things that you never used to worry about can almost paralyze you with fear now. Some women have such extreme anxiety that they don’t want to leave their home. Why is this happening? What has changed to make us feel so anxious? Could it be as simple as a hormonal deficiency? Women are more likely to experience anxiety during times of hormonal fluctuation and decline. Let’s address five common hormone related causes of anxiety in women.
First of all, what is anxiety?
Anxiety is defined as a state of uneasiness and apprehension. People with anxiety can have excessive, persistent worry and fear about things that one wouldn’t normally worry about. Often this extreme anxiety can lead to a panic attack, or sudden surges of overwhelming fear that that comes without warning, accompanied by physical symptoms such as a pounding heart, sweating, and rapid breathing. When anxiety becomes an excessive, irrational dread of everyday situations, it becomes disabling.
5 Common Causes of Anxiety in Women
1. Adrenal Fatigue
Your adrenal glands are responsible for managing stress. Chronic stress, whether physical or psychological or both, cause the adrenal glands to be overworked and eventually leads to adrenal fatigue. The adrenal glands simply cannot produce enough cortisol, your body’s stress hormone, to meet the demands of your body. As a result you feel stressed out and anxious. Research shows that people with anxiety disorder had lower cortisol levels. (1) Supplementing with bioidentical cortisol helps you to withstand stress and escape the most unpleasant effect of stress, anxiety.
Hypothyroidism results in a slowdown of cellular metabolism, which causes a drop in levels of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutric acid (GABA). GABA has a calming effect, which prevents the brain from being overwhelmed by stimulation. Moderately low levels of GABA are linked to anxiety, panic attacks and mood swings. Research demonstrates that anxiety is common in patients with thyroid dysfunction.(2) At the other end of the spectrum, too much thyroid hormone (hyperthyroidism) can also bring on anxiety and panic attacks.
3. Estrogen Dominance
Chronically elevated levels of estrogen can actually induce depression and anxiety by causing functional hypothyroidism. Also, a woman with estrogen dominance (progesterone deficiency) may have the adequate levels of total cortisol in her bloodstream, but her free, available cortisol level may be very low. Only free cortisol can actually be used by the cells.
Estrogen impairs adrenal function in another way: it interferes with the release of cortisol from the adrenal cortex. This can be an indication of declining ovarian function and the resulting imbalance of estrogen and progesterone.
Research shows that an increase in progesterone resulted in improvement of premenstrual anxiety, irritability and nervous tension. (3) Research also shows that progesterone produced a clear dose-dependent anti-anxiety response. These results demonstrate that progesterone was most potent against anxiety when compared with all steroids evaluated. (4, 5) Balancing the estrogen with bioidentical progesterone can help eliminate estrogen dominance and curb anxiety.
4. Estrogen Deficiency
Estrogen deficiency that occurs with menopause can cause anxiety. If anxiety is associated with your hot flashes, then low estrogen could be the culprit. Research suggest that the lower estrogen state during normal menstrual cycling may contribute to risk for anxiety disorders. (6)
Symptoms can be relieved with bioidentical estrogen. (Keep in mind that you can be estrogen dominant and estrogen deficient at the same time. That simply means that you are low in both estrogen and progesterone.)
Evidence supports anxiolytic and antidepressant roles for testosterone.Administration of a low dose of testosterone in women with treatment-resistant major depressive disorder significantly improved ratings of depression, compared to placebo-treated subjects. In addition, surgical removal of the ovaries increased mood disturbances and depression, an effect reversed by testosterone. Another study in women found that a single administration of testosterone reduced anxiety in the fear-potentiated startle response, compared to placebo-treated controls. (7)
Natural Solution for Anxiety
Anxiety and panic attacks are often treated with antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications, however these medications only attempt to mask your symptoms without solving the reason you have them in the first place. We have had great results in relieving anxiety caused by hormonal imbalance with bioidentical hormones. Certain vitamins can also help relieve anxiety, as well: magnesium, 5-HTP, inositol, rhodiola and vitamin B6.
Take our symptom checker quiz today to find out if you have symptoms of hormone imbalance that could be the cause of your anxiety. It’s time to get your life back!
1. Anxiety Disorders and Salivary Cortisol Levels in Older Adults: A Population-Based Study
2. Prevalence of Anxiety and Depressive Symptoms Among Patients with Hypothyroidism
3. Nutritional Factors in the Etiology of the Premenstrual Tension Syndromes
4. Anti-Anxiety Effects of Progesterone and Some of its Reduced Metabolites: An Evaluation Using the Burying Behavior Test
5. Anxiolytic Activity of the Progesterone Metabolite 5 Alpha-Pregnan-3 Alpha-o1-20-One
6. Inhibition of Fear is Differentially Associated with Cycling Estrogen Levels in Women
7. Sex Differences in Anxiety and Depression: Role of Testosterone