According to an article, “Hormones: How Do They Affect Anxiety in Women”, the connection between hormonal fluctuations and anxiety is not fully understood, research does indicate there is some connection. This may contribute to the fact that women have a much greater chance of developing anxiety than men. It is also important to remember that although hormone levels can create an increase in anxiety symptoms, this is not the cause of the anxiety.
Women with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) may see an increase in symptoms prior to having their period. However, other types of anxiety do not seem to be impacted at this time. Some women with premenstrual mood disorder (PMD) see a reduction of anxiety symptoms for the two weeks following the onset of menses.
What is interesting is that hormonal therapy, such as birth control pills, does not seem to make any significant difference in anxiety symptoms. The symptoms of anxiety do not seem to either improve or worsen with treatment for hormonal fluctuations. Another article," Hormones Affect Anxiety and Depression", indicates that while low estrogen may increase the risk of depression, “out of balance” estrogen may increase the risk for anxiety.
Estrogen replacement therapy, given after menopause, has been found to reduce reactions to stress and can help depression caused by perimenopause. This may indicate estrogen can help anxiety symptoms shortly before or during menopause.
Hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid causes increased thyroid hormones and this has been shown to contribute to panic attacks and symptoms of anxiety.
To help ensure proper treatment, women should discuss symptoms of thyroidism, hormonal fluctuations and anxiety with both their primary physician and OB/GYN doctor.
“Hormones: How Do They Affect Anxiety in Women”, Date Unknown, Margaret Altemus, M.D., Anxiety Disorder Association of America
“Hormones Affect Anxiety and Depression”, 2002, Jan 29, Trish Morse, Hormone Jungle
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.