In this brief guide, we will look at anxiety from being hungry and how to deal with it.
Anxiety from Being Hungry
Anxiety from being hungry is a situation that usually occurs because of low glucose levels in the body that lead to someone feeling like they cannot think straight and this can make them fearful for no reason, which is a central tenet of anxiety.
Apart from anxiety from being hungry, anxiety can also lead to feeling like you are angry and snappy for no reason, and this can make you rather unpleasant to be around and it also feels very uncomfortable to the person experiencing it as well.
Being hungry could also leave you malnourished and eventually make you ill and potentially severely sick which could lead to you getting anxiety from being sick.
There are many people who are just in the lousiest mood because they are hungry, and even if they are not experiencing anxiety from being hungry they can still be in a very bad mood and feel like they simply cannot deal with people, all because they are hungry.
When the body is deprived of food and hunger goes overboard, it deprives the brain of all the necessary things it needs and this can lead to feelings of anxiety or depression because their brain shuts down, and in some cases, the person experiencing this type of anxiety can also experience other emotions like being sad or angry.
Anger is so often associated with hunger and is such a common phenomenon that it has its own word “Hangry”, and it refers to someone that is cranky and upset because they are hungry, and the anger they are displaying is coming from a place of hunger.
Furthermore, people experiencing anxiety may also be more likely to experience hunger even after they have eaten, and in some patients suffering from OCD their anxiety may manifest in a need, or compulsion, to eat more frequently than necessary.
Why do we feel Anxiety from being hungry?
One likely cause for the anxiety from being hungry may be explained by the relationship between hunger and hypoglycemia, that is, low blood sugar, as hunger is essentially a primitive signal that is well-known to set off the stress response in a person.
Because hunger can make the body and mind so much more stressed out, it can often lead to full-blown feelings of anxiety from being hungry, and the person may not even realise it till they eat, which is something that makes it that much harder to recognize and deal with the problems of anxiety.
Anxiety from being hungry is also something that may be exacerbated if the person is already predisposed, that is, already susceptible to problems like anxiety and depression, and this makes sense considering how much these conditions are worsened by someone not eating.
The stress response that is triggered by drops and fluctuations in blood sugar, can lead to anxiety from being hungry, and even problems like depression can show up just as easily in someone who is sensitive and can become permanent, even, if the person does not have food as and when they feel hungry.
Anxiety from being hungry may even be considered to be an evolutionary mechanism because of how important food is, and how much we need it, and as such, humans as well as other animals are primed to feel stressed and anxious when they are not receiving the necessary nourishment.
Anxiety from being hungry, therefore, can be considered a priority almost, and even though it is extremely uncomfortable to the person suffering from it, it has a function. The problem occurs when it starts to persist even after the person has eaten and even starts to take over their life in a way that they start needing to eat every time they feel anxious.
Anxiety from being hungry may start out as a condition that helps someone avoid starvation, but in some cases it can make matters even worse for them somehow because anxiety as a whole is a difficult thing to overcome.
Therefore, someone experiencing low blood sugar will almost always immediately need to get something to eat so that they can stop feeling the negative emotions associated with the hunger.
Anxiety from being hungry is something that may be found only in humans, because while hunger stresses any living being’s body, in humans the complex brain may not even realize sometimes because of the anxious emotions that it is food it needs.
Instead, the focus may turn to the negativity and the need to avoid everything around the person and trying to alleviate the feelings of restlessness through just about anything but food, which is what the person needs most.
Sometimes, anxiety from being hungry can also lead to stress and tension related to other issues like work or relationships, while the real problem, low blood sugar, goes unnoticed.
Anxiety is often considered to be one of the main symptoms of hypoglycemia and it has been proven a number of times that hunger can cause major stress in the brain, resulting in nervousness and anxiety.
One such study was done by the University of Guelph, where researchers found that the sudden drop in glucose we experience when we are hungry can impact our mood and even cause anxiety.
Prof. Francesco Leri explains this phenomenon, “We found evidence that a change in glucose level can have a lasting effect on mood, I was skeptical when people would tell me that they get grouchy if they don’t eat, but now I believe it. Hypoglycemia is a strong physiological and psychological stressor.”
The person leading the team, PhD student Thomas Herman, comments, “When people think about negative mood states and stress, they think about the psychological factors, not necessarily the metabolic factors, But we found poor eating behaviour can have an impact.”
In ths study, they injected some rats with a glucose metabolism blocker, which caused them to experience hypoglycemia, after which they were placed in a specific chamber. Other times they were also given an injection of water and placed in a different chamber. When they were later given a choice to enter either compartment, they actively avoided going into the one where they experienced hypoglycemia, which led the researchers to believe that hunger and hypoglycemia caused enough stress and anxiety in them that they avoided the very situation where they had felt it.
“This type of avoidance behaviour is an expression of stress and anxiety,” said Leri. “The animals are avoiding that chamber because they had a stressful experience there. They don’t want to experience it again.”
The rats were also shown to have more anxiety related hormones in their blood after having experienced hypoglycemia, which is further proof of anxiety from being hungry.
“You might argue that this is because they need glucose to make their muscles work,” said Leri. “But when we gave them a commonly used antidepressant medication, the sluggish behaviour was not observed. The animals moved around normally. This is interesting because their muscles still weren’t getting the glucose, yet their behaviour changed.”
Here are some of the most common symptoms of anxiety:
- Stomach issues
- Feeling of dread
- Feeling like one is going to pass out
- Feeling like one is going to die
- Rapid Heart Rate
Symptoms of anxiety also differ from situation to situation and depending on which one of the anxiety disorders one is suffering from.
Not Being Hungry because of Anxiety
Just as anxiety from being hungry is a thing, so is hunger that arises out of anxiety, which may occur when one turns to food in the initial bouts of anxiety, and conditions oneself to feel better when food is provided.
According to a leading researcher in the field of anxiety and its relationship to food, “Poor mood and poor eating can become a vicious cycle in that if a person isn’t eating properly, they can experience a drop in mood, and this drop in mood can make them not want to eat. If someone is constantly missing meals and constantly experiencing this stressor, the response could affect their emotional state on a more constant level.”
There are also various manifestations of anxiety, like:
- Physical: like the “fight or flight” mode.
- Behavioural: avoidance of anything that makes one anxious, or turning to something that relieves anxiety even if it is not necessarily good for the person.
- Thinking: Thinking that one will not be able to cope with anxiety at all.
Tips to deal with Anxiety from Being Hungry
Here are some tips to deal with anxiety:
- Learn to recognize what came first, anxiety or hunger
- Maintain a diary about your food habits
- Make sure you eat balanced meals at regular intervals
- Try to stay away from high sugar or high salt foods
- Avoid substances like tobacco, marijuana or alcohol
- Maintain a regular schedule of sleep and wakefulness
- See a doctor if you find yourself getting hungry too often
In this brief guide, we looked at anxiety from being hungry and how to deal with it. If you have any questions or comments about anxiety from being hungry please feel free to reach out to us at any time.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Anxiety from Being Hungry
How do I stop hunger anxiety?
To stop hunger anxiety you can try the following tips:
Get help for stress.
Do a periodic hunger reality check.
Keep a food diary.
Throw away the temptation.
Don’t deprive yourself.
Get support from loved ones and friends.
Get rid of boredom.
Does anxiety cause lack of hunger?
Yes, anxiety can cause a lack of hunger, and in some cases, anxiety can lead to feelings of nausea, which can further reduce the need or want the desire to eat in an individual.
The reason anxiety can cause a lack of hunger is because Anxiety triggers emotional and psychological changes in the body that help you deal with the pressure, and these changes can affect the stomach and digestive tract, which can lead to a reduction of appetite.
Why do I not feel like eating when I’m hungry?
You may not feel like eating when you are hungry because you are not in the best state of mind, because you are depressed or anxious, or perhaps because what is available to you is not to your liking.
People may also feel like not eating even when they are hungry when they are upset about something, which can take away the emotional or cognitive aspects attached to food, and this can often lead to a feeling of not wanting to eat even though hunger is present.
Is overthinking a sign of anxiety?
Yes, overthinking is a sign of anxiety, as someone experiencing anxiety can often overthink just about everything that they are thinking, as fear makes them feel like they need to be on edge constantly.
Overthinking is often linked to psychological problems such as anxiety and depression, but it is not necessary that overthinking always causes them or vice versa, and it can work differently in different people.