What Causes Hot Flashes Anxiety Symptoms
Behaving in an apprehensive manner causes the body to activate the stress response, which causes the body to secrete stress hormones into the bloodstream where they travel to targeted spots in the body to bring about specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that enhance the bodys ability to deal with a threatto either fight with or flee from itwhich is the reason this response is often referred to as the fight or flight response or the emergency response.
Part of the emergency response changes include increasing perspiration, heart rate, respiration, and metabolism. These changes alone can cause the bodys temperature to rise. There are other changes that occur, too, that can cause the bodys temperature to rise. Experiencing hot flashes is a common consequence of behaving anxiously and the resulting stress response changes.
When stress responses occur infrequently, the body can recover relatively quickly from the physiological, psychological, and emotional changes the stress response brings about. When stress responses occur too frequently and/or dramatically, however, the body has a more difficult time recovering, which can result in the body remaining in a semi hyperstimulated state, since stress hormones are stimulants. A body that becomes stress-response hyperstimulated can exhibit similar sensations and symptoms to that of an active emergency response..and many more, including causing involuntary hot flashes.
What To Do Next:
- Connect with a mental health professional: A doctor, psychologist, psychiatrist, or licensed clinical social worker can talk to you about your anxiety symptoms and family and medical history, and provide a diagnosis, if needed.
- Discuss your treatment options: Your mental health specialist may recommend lifestyle changes, medication, psychotherapy, hormone therapy, or a combination. Since anxiety may subside once menopause ends, your specialist may also help you manage a timeline for your treatment.
- Find treatments that work for you: Listen to your body, paying attention to the treatments it responds to well. With the help of your medical provider or therapist, create a treatment plan that works best for you.
Anxiety As A Predictor Of Hot Flashes
To address whether anxiety preceded hot flashes and could therefore be considered a predictor of the risk of menopausal hot flashes, the anxiety symptom scores adjusted for menopausal stage were lagged by one assessment period relative to each time of the hot flash reports to identify whether anxiety occurred before incident hot flashes. Lagged somatic anxiety scores significantly predicted risk of hot flashes, with a 69% increase in risk for each point increase in mean somatic anxiety scores . When the somatic anxiety model was re-run with the possible dual symptoms removed from the somatic anxiety scores, the associations of somatic anxiety with hot flashes remained significant in time-lagged models . In contrast, lagged affective anxiety scores did not predict hot flashes, a further indication of the weak association of affective anxiety with hot flashes .
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Hot Flashes And Anxiety: Whats The Connection
3 minute read
Youre going about your day when all of a sudden, an intense wave of heat crashes over you. You become flushed and start to sweat. Your heart is beating overtime.You might also feel weak, dizzy, or nauseated. Your head starts to pound.
Is it a hot flash? Severe anxiety? Both?
The answer isnt always as clear-cut as you might expect, since hot flashes and anxiety each can manifest in similar ways. Whats more, research suggests that women who are prone to anxiety symptoms might be somewhatmore apt to suffer hot flashes once they reach their perimenopausal years. And, of course, someone whos caught off-guard by a run-of-the-mill hot flash might feel surprised and anxious, even if they dont routinely struggle with anxiety issues.
To sort it out, it helps to understand a little more about what causes severe hot flashes as well as why anxiety can literally make you sweat.
Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorder That You Might Not Recognize
When thinking about anxiety disorder, you probably consider the classic signs shortness of breath, racing heart, and constant overthinking. But physical symptoms of anxiety disorders are real, too. Anxiety is a complex mental illness that gives those who experience it a wide range of symptoms. Its important to know and be mindful about the physical impact anxiety can have on people, because it can feel quite frightening when it happens to you. If you find yourself nodding along in response to the symptoms listed below, you might consider reaching out for help. And as a reminder, more than 30% of adults will experience an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives, so you’re definitely not alone.
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Whats Happening Inside Your Body
Anxiety is the way the body prepares to respond to a stressful situation or threat. For a short while, the heart races, blood rushes to the brain, blood pressure spikes, and breathing becomes faster. These events are mediated by a flood of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, which is triggered by the brain. As a result, youâre mentally and physically primed to handle the source of stress.
For people experiencing menopause, these hormonal shifts occur against the backdrop of steadily decreasing estrogen and progesterone. The role of estrogen in regulating mood is complex and not fully understood. Research has linked estrogen in the brain to increased serotonin, the production of endorphins, and the protection and growth of neurons. These effects may change as estrogen levels drop.
How Hot Flashes Happen
Hot flashes are themost common symptom reported by menopausal women. These brief surges in body temperature tend to occur most during perimenopause, which is the stage that precedes the total absence of your periods .
Although the exact mechanism that causes hot flashes is not fully understood, hormonal changes clearly play a starring role. Your estrogen level and progesterone level can be pretty erratic during perimenopause. In addition to controlling your monthly cycle while youre still menstruating, these hormones also send signals to the hypothalamus, better known as your brains thermostat. The hormonal fluctuations associated with menopause can mess with the hypothalamus so that you end upthinking your body temperature is higher than it actually is.
One theory is that transitioning to a menopausal status narrows your thermoneutral zone the temperature range in which you arent sweating or shivering. As a result, it becomes a lot easier for you to go from feeling comfy to overheated in a snap.
Whenever your body thinks its too hot, it takes action to cool you down: Blood flow to your skin increases hence, the hot flushes and you sweat, cooling down as the moisture evaporates.
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Hot Flashes And Chills
You might think chills or hot flashes only come from illnesses like the common cold or flu, but that isnt always the case. Anxiety can cause them as well. According to the Mayo Clinic, panic attacks can cause you to experience chills and hot flashes similar to those you might experience if you have a fever. But its not just when youre in the midst of a panic attack. According to the University of Michigan, generalized anxiety disorder can also cause symptoms like sweating.
How Can You Decrease Anxiety During Menopause
Menopause is often described as a roller coaster ride. Your anxiety levels can peak and plunge as your bodys hormone production fluctuates.
While you may not be able to do much about the up-and-down hormones, you can certainly take advantage of proven anxiety-reducing strategies.
Here are some options to consider:
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What Does The Research Say
- A 2018 review in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology Clinics of North America reported that anxiety tends to peak early in menopause, together with irritability and mood swings.
- A study published in the journal Menopause in 2012 found that women with low anxiety before menopause were more likely to report high anxiety during early and late perimenopause and postmenopause, while women who had high anxiety before menopause continued to experience high anxiety throughout these periods.
- A 2005 study in the same journal of women in midlife found that women with high anxiety are five times more likely to experience hot flashes than women with normal levels of anxiety.
What Causes Generalized Anxiety Disorder
GAD can develop when you cant cope well with your internal stress. It also runs in families. But its not understood why some people get it and others dont. Experts have shown that the areas of the brain that control fear and anxiety are affected.
Sometimes the symptoms of GAD can happen as a side effect of a medicine or of substance abuse. It can also be linked to health conditions that increase hormones. This can make the body response more excitable. GAD can be triggered by family or environmental stress. Long-term illness and disease can also trigger GAD.
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Key Points About Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder is a condition where you worry constantly about everyday issues and situations.
- Healthcare providers diagnose GAD when your worrying happens on most days and for at least 6 months.
- You may also feel restlessness, extreme tiredness , trouble focusing, grouchiness, increased muscle tension, and trouble sleeping.
- Treatment may include medicine, counseling, relaxation methods, and lifestyle changes.
- If you have GAD, you may also have another mental health condition such as depression.
What If Its Both Menopause And Anxiety
While it would be nice to be able to keep menopausal hot flashes and anxiety in two totally separate boxes, the truth is that these problems sometimes overlap. Someresearch suggests that women who have pre-existing anxiety disorders might be more likely to experience hot flashes when they approach menopause, though the reason why isnt totally clear.
At the same time, many women find the menopausal transition stressful, even if they never meet the criteria for a full-blown anxiety disorder.
Whatever the root of your problem, dont ignore it especially if its making you uncomfortable or interfering with the overall quality of your life. Even if your hot flashes are unrelated to a serious anxiety problem, studies suggest that cognitive behavioral therapy help some womenbetter manage their perimenopausal symptoms.
Talk to your primary care doctor and consider seeing a mental health professional to discuss your anxiety and menopausal symptoms. And if you need help finding one, Alloy can point you in the right direction.
Alloy’s Recommended Treatment for Hot Flashes and Other Menopause Symptoms:
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How Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder Treated
Treatment will depend on your symptoms, age, and general health. It will also depend on how severe the condition is.Treatment may include:
- Relaxation methods
- Working with a therapist to boost coping skills
- Making lifestyle changes to reduce stress and stay away from stimulating substances. Also seek help with quitting smoking, or drug or alcohol use.
When Is Gad Diagnosed
GAD is diagnosed when someone spends more days than not over at least 6 months worried excessively about a number of everyday problems, including health, money, family, or work.
Sometimes, the source of the worry is hard to pinpoint. Simply the thought of getting through the day may provoke anxiety.
People with GAD cant seem to shake their concerns or control their worry, even though they usually realize that their anxiety may be more intense than the situation warrants.
Additionally, though some people have panic attacks when they have GAD, anxiety and worry arent specifically related to having a panic attack.
Theyre also not related to another anxiety disorder. For example, youre not specifically worried about being embarrassed in public, as in social anxiety, or have an irrational fear about a specific thing, such as in specific phobias.
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Why Anxiety Makes You Sweat
No matter your age or menopausal status, you probably know what it feels like to develop clammy hands before a date or an important client meeting. When youre stressed, you might also perspire more under your arms.
When you get anxious, your bodys natural fight-or-flight response kicks in: Your adrenal glands, which happen to be controlled by the hypothalamus release stress hormones, including adrenaline. Adrenaline makes yourheart rate go up and prompts you to breathe more quickly. It also stimulates two types of sweat glands to kick into action.
Strange as it may sound, theres actually more than one kind of sweat. Regular sweat the kind thats designed to cool you down on a hot day comes from the eccrine glands. Its made of mostly water, salt, and potassium and evaporates quickly. So-calledstress sweat, however, comes from the apocrine glands and contains fatty acids and proteins. It tends to linger on your body. When your body goes into fight-or-flight mode, you produceboth types of sweat.
How To Manage Hot Flashes
There are also steps you can take to address hot flashes directly, including:
- Hormone therapy . I usually suggest a low-dose hormone replacement therapy for up to five years, recommends Dr. Sozen. This is safe for people in their 40s and 50s for a limited time.
- Non-hormonal medications. Dr. Sozen also recommends an option for people who have moderate to severe hot flashes and arent good candidates for hormone therapy. Those with the best results include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors , serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors , anti-epileptics, clonidine and oxybutynin. Talk with your healthcare provider about which may be most appropriate for you.
- Natural remedies. Some people experiencing hot flashes also find relief from treatments like Chinese herbal remedies.Black cohosh has been explored as an option for hot flashes and, while there isnt enough research to support it, doctors have recommended it as a way to relieve fatigue or improve mood during menopause.
You can also make small changes in your day-to-day life, like:
Whether your anxiety is causing your menopausal hot flashes to flare up or its the other way around, there are ways to cope with both. Use tactics to manage your hot flashes while also addressing your anxiety to see the best results.
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Is Anxiety Rising Among Youth
Anxiety seems to be on the rise among children and teenagers. The percentage of those 6 to 17 years old who have been diagnosed with anxiety increased from 5.5 percent in 2007 to 6.4 percent in 2012, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Research from 2021 suggests that 20 percent of children and adolescents have experienced clinically elevated symptoms of anxiety. Many factors may be contributing to the rise in youth anxiety, such as intense pressure and expectations, overprotective parenting, social media, and shifting definitions of mental illness.
Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorders:
Anyone may experience these symptoms during stressful times. However, individuals with anxiety disorders may experience them in absence of stress, with more severe symptoms and/or with several symptoms appearing together.
- Inability to relax
- Rapid pulse or pounding, skipping, racing heart
- Nausea, chest pain or pressure
- Feeling a “lump in the throat”
- Feelings of dread, apprehension or losing control
- Trembling or shaking, sweating or chills
- Fainting or dizziness, feelings of detachment
- Thoughts of death
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How Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder Diagnosed
Generalized anxiety disorder can be diagnosed with the DSM-5 criteria or various questionnaires such as the GAD-7 by a mental health professional or primary care physician. The clinician may ask about the patients symptoms, family history, and medical history and conduct a physical exam. It may take time to distinguish generalized anxiety from other medical or mental health conditions such as OCD, phobias, and depression.
How Is Panic Disorder Diagnosed
There isn’t a lab test specifically for panic disorder. Because the symptoms can feel a lot like those of a heart attack, your doctor probably will start by examining you and ruling out other health issues. If no other condition is causing your symptoms and youâve had two or more random panic attacks and live in fear of a repeat episode, you probably have panic disorder.
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Associations With Covariates And Hormone Levels
Table 2 shows associations of the hypothesized covariates with hot flashes. Covariates with a significant unadjusted association with hot flashes included somatic anxiety, menopausal stage, current age, history of depression, body mass index, current psychotropic medications, education, log FSH and log estradiol.
Hot Flashes And Health
Hot and cold symptoms can be incredibly disturbing. They may prevent you from sleep and cause you to feel like something is wrong. They occur during periods of intense anxiety, during anxiety attacks or sometimes simply at night when your mind is too active.
Only a doctor can diagnose the cause of your hot and cold symptoms, but these flashes may be caused by anxiety.
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What Is Generalized Anxiety Disorder
If you tend to worry a lot, even when there’s no reason, you may have generalized anxiety disorder . GAD means that you are worrying constantly and can’t control the worrying. Healthcare providers diagnose GAD when your worrying happens on most days and for at least 6 months.
Worrying may be something you are so used to, you may think it’s just “how you are.” Common worries include your health, money, family, or work. While everyone worries about these things once in awhile, if you always expect the worst, it can get in the way of living a normal life.
If you have GAD, you may also have another mental health condition such as depression.