When you are too stressed or worried about something, you may experience loss of body weight. Have you ever wondered why? Sometimes excessive stress may either cause weight loss or even weight gain. But this varies from one person to another and even from situation to situation.
What is observed in the majority of the people is the loss of weight. This is mostly because when you are tensed about something, you often tend to miss your meals, or take untimely meals or may even go for poor food choices. Sometimes you might not even have the desire to eat anything even if you feel hungry. But such kind of situations are only temporary and will go away when you fight stress.
Read on further and learn how stress influences your body weight and mostly contributes to loss of weight. You need to understand the ways of how anxiety takes control of your body’s internal mechanisms and disrupts the normal functioning. You also need to know how to manage such stress-related weight loss problems and the right time to consult a doctor or any other health professional regarding such issues.
What are the signs of weight loss in relation to anxiety?
There are various other factors along with stress which indirectly contributes to loss of body weight such as:
- Reduced sex drive
- Tense muscles
- Mood swings
- Elevated heart rate
- Aches and pains
- Difficulty in either staying awake or falling asleep
- Problems related to short term memory loss
When you are tensed or have extreme anxiety about some sort of emergency situation like meeting a deadline or preparing for a competitive examination, you often end up skipping meals and mostly engage yourself into unusual activities or behaviors which you do not generally exhibit. Such disruptions in the mental and physiological state of the body can largely contribute to negative reaction to anxiety and eventually result in weight loss.
Does our “flight or fight” hormone speed up weight loss?
Have you heard about the stress hormones known as adrenaline (epinephrine)and noradrenaline (norepinephrine)? These particular hormones are secreted in heavy amounts when your body goes into any sort of emergency states such as a flight or fight situation. Now, what is this flight or fight condition? When your body encounters stress, the sympathetic nervous system gets triggered to release two hormones in large quantities from the adrenal medulla into the blood. They travel through several parts of the body and causes variable changes in response to the stress to combat it. Therefore, while adrenaline makes your body ready for dynamic activities, it heavily contributes to loss of overall body weight.
In the meanwhile, another hormone known as cortisol is also secreted alongside adrenaline and noradrenaline which suppresses some non-essential functions temporarily during a crisis, such as immune, digestive, and the responses of the reproductive system.
How is anxiety exactly causing weight loss?
- Apprehensive behavior triggers a stress response
This is mostly in reference to the release of catecholamines like epinephrine and norepinephrine during emergency conditions on experiencing a stressor. Such hormonal release can bring about abrupt changes in the physical, physiological as well as the emotional state of the body in order to react to the threat by either fighting with it or flying from it. Thus, the name is the “flight or fight” response. These responses not only play with your mental stability but also fuel the extra burning of stored fat in the body to gain energy from it and combat the stress.
- Overly apprehensive behavior
This can instigate your body’s response to stress in a hyper-stimulated manner causing severe gastrointestinal and digestive problems. When you are coming across excessive stressful situations, you often experience difficulty in digesting food and thus tend to eat less during such circumstances. This greatly contributes to greater burning body fat with increasing anxiety levels. Not consuming proper meals during such situations furthermore increases your body’s mechanism to burn more and more fat cells to extract energy out of the adipose tissues to meet the stress levels. Thus, more the anxiety, more the weight loss!
- Disruption in the sleeping pattern
This can cause high levels of cortisol released into the bloodstream by elevating the body’s stimulation. During acute anxiety, you often feel problems associated with sleeping or staying awake. When the sleeping cycle gets disrupted, the stress stimulant called cortisol is released into the blood at a greater level than normal. Thus, elevated levels of the hormone will make your body work harder than usual and raise the fuel consumption rate simultaneously.
- Hyper-stimulation of the body
Hyper-stimulation of the body due to stress response reduces your body’s ability to uptake nutrients. Absorption of the low level of nutrients from food can greatly cause weight loss. Greater the hyper-stimulation of the body, lesser is the nutrient uptake and more is the burning of fat. Thus if you are already taking less amount of food during stress, the amount of nutrients entering your body automatically becomes limited. Adding to that, if your body gets hyper-stimulated, the rate of nutrient absorption gets abruptly reduced and the body stays starved.
How to combat anxiety and revert weight loss?
There are some short term remedies which you can follow to get rid of weight loss related problems in times of stress.
- Bring down the metabolism of your body by increasing your sleep, resting and relaxation.
- Reduce your stress level so that the body can depend less on burning fuel and cause weight loss.
- Increase the amount of food you take every day for greater uptake of nutrients, especially carbohydrates and proteins which offsets the demand for fuel consumption.
- Go for a nutritional supplement for better absorption of vitamins and minerals.
- Consult with a nutritionist for a properly planned diet and health regimen.
Although less common to this, stress can also trigger weight gain. It can happen at times when you start eating unhealthy or at wrong times. You need to be careful and take care of your health to avoid falling in this trap!