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By MICKoWAR, Jul 21 2018 01:51AM

While it's normal to feel stressed before an important exam, work meeting, or important life decision, all of these things are temporary in nature. Anxiety disorders are differentiated from daily stress because they do not go away once the event in question has passed. Instead, they often get worse over time, compromising an individual's job performance, school work, and even the formation of healthy relationships.

Individuals suffering from generalised anxiety disorder display many symptoms, including feelings of restlessness, decreased stamina, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, irritability, an inability to control their anxiety, insomnia, and restless, unsatisfying sleep.

Can Hormones Be Responsible For Anxiety Disorders?

Yes! Hormonal imbalances may be the only reason any given individual struggles with anxiety, but it's more common for a hormone imbalance to be coupled with other mental health issues as the root cause of the problem. Some people also struggle with anxiety disorders for reasons completely unrelated to hormones.

If hormones are part of the problem, cortisol, sex hormones, and thyroid issues are the most likely culprits.

1. Cortisol

Cortisol is widely called the "stress hormone" because both physical and mental stress can release it. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands as part of the "fight or flight" mechanism, where it serves to prepare the body to defend itself from perceived danger. If the adrenal glands are producing cortisol when no such emergency is present, anxiety is the likely result.

2. Sex Hormones

This category includes estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone. Women often experience anxiety issues during the prementrual portion of their daily cycle, peri-menopause, and menopause because their estrogen levels are unbalanced. Likewise, a man often experiences changes in his physical and emotional health when his natural testosterone levels begin to decline. Decreased testosterone levels can also lead to a reduced libido and/or a loss of muscle mass that may also trigger anxiety in men. Finally, progesterone naturally inhibits "feel-good" hormones such as dopamine and serotonin, making it more difficult for the body to successfully regulate its own mood.

3. Thyroid

The thyroid produces a variety of essential hormones, creating issues if it produces too much or too little of them. Hyperthyroidism means that the thyroid is producing too many hormones. It speeds up the body's natural metabolism to the point that the entire sympathetic nervous system becomes more active, placing stress on the entire body. By contrast, Hypothyroidism means that the thyroid isn't active enough. This slows down the body's metabolic processes, reducing energy. The resulting instability can contribute to undesirable mood changes, driving the onset of anxiety.

Whether hormonal imbalances cause anxiety disorders or the other way around is the topic of ongoing medical research, but there is a clear connection between the two. Thankfully, symptoms can be muted or even eliminated through a diet and exercise program.

How Can Exercise Help Manage Anxiety?

Exercise allows the body to release the natural chemicals responsible for the fight or flight state. This helps relieve chronic muscle tension, insomnia, depression, and anxiety as the hormones above are metabolized into the bloodstream.

In addition, happy hormones such as dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins are naturally released to replace the other ones during exercise. Here is what they do:

1. Endorphins

Endorphins interact with certain receptors in your brain to reduce pain perception. Anaerobic exercise is particularly effective for activating the body's natural painkillers to deal with chronic pain.

2. Serotonin

Serotonin is what the body uses to maintain a balanced mood. It is produced during aerobic exercise, but its effects linger long after a it is completed.

3. Dopamine

Dopamine is the pleasure hormone the brain releases whenever we achieve a goal. Exercise stimulates the brain to produce more dopamine in addition to serotonin.

Here is a quick anxiety self-help guide to help you manage your symptoms:

1. Daily Exercise

Walking for 30 minutes a day, engaging in something a little more vigorous, or even a yoga class can be all you need to do. The exercise will improve your mood, alertness, energy, and concentration, leaving you more prepared to tackle your day.

2. Eat Well

Most food cravings are the body's reaction to stress, depression, or anxiety. A better diet can make a substantial improvement in how you feel.

3. Deep Breathing Exercises

Inhale for a count of five, and then breath out for 10, repeating the word "relax" with every exhale. Make sure to breathe into your stomach, not your chest!

4. Meditation

Stress management techniques such as meditation can help by bringing you back into the present moment instead of whatever might be going on inside your head. This can help reduce your blood pressure, slow your heart rate, and decrease your breathing rate.

5. Muscle Relaxation Techniques

This can help bring attention to any parts of your body that are feeling tense and mindfully relax them.

6. Massage

Massages release happy hormones such as endorphins. They also reduce stress hormones to promote better hormonal balance.

If you're interested in learning more about what kind of workout regimen would be best for your needs, an experienced exercise physiologist Melbourne may be able to help. A physiology ​practitioner in ​Melbourne can help you with other aspects of your stress management.

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