Can low potassium be related to anxiety? (+How to cope)

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This article will discuss if there is a connection between low levels of potassium in the person’s body and anxiety. It will explain how one can impact the other, and what are the best ways to cope.

Can low potassium be related to anxiety?

Yes, low levels of potassium can lead you to develop anxiety, or may even make your anxiety worse. Potassium is a mineral that is abundant in the body, but when you are lacking it, it can often affect many aspects of your life.

Having low levels of potassium in your body leads to a condition called hypokalemia. This can cause you many effects, some potentially life-threatening. But most commonly low levels of potassium can lead to excessive thirst, muscle weakness, constipation, heart palpitation, and even dizziness. 

And even though they may not be life-threatening, dealing with the effects of low potassium in itself can already make you more anxious.

It can also lead to many psychological effects. It can make you experience mental fatigue, because potassium is an important aid in your learning, and memorizing process. This can often lead you to feel more frustrated, and stressed, since you can feel like it is harder to focus and do things as you did before, making you more anxious.

Aside from that, low levels of potassium can also impact your mood. It can make you more irritable, and as said before, if you already struggle with anxiety, the low levels of potassium can make it worse. 

It is also known that low levels of potassium can also lead to depression, and there is a clear connection that depression can lead people to rumination, and other patterns of behavior that are connected to anxiety.

Potassium seems to be so important for your mental health because it is a mineral that works on maintaining the electrical conductivity of the brain, and nerve transmissions, when those don’t work as well as they should, you may see the effects of it clearly on your mood. 

But before discussing how to cope with low levels of potassium, let’s learn what can cause you to experience it.

What causes low levels of potassium?

People may experience low potassium levels because of their diets. Nowadays, especially when eating a lot of processed food, we tend to take in a lot of sodium, and when you have a lot of sodium in your body, it will lead to lower levels of potassium.

But the low levels of potassium will hardly happen just based on your diet. Many other factors seem to contribute to it. For example, if the person is losing a lot of fluid, it can be that they get lower levels of potassium. 

This means that if a person has chronic diarrhea, it can happen, or even if they sweat a lot. It can also happen when there is an extreme problem with the person’s diet, and they are malnourished or are dealing with an eating disorder. 

Going through a situation that puts your body in shock, or a crushing syndrome can lead them to experience low levels of potassium. This can also happen if you use some types of medications, like insulin, theophylline, and antimicrobials.

And finally, having low levels of potassium can happen as a reaction to some illnesses. One of them is hyperaldosteronism, many kidney problems such as kidney failure, refeeding syndrome, or low levels of magnesium. So now let’s discuss what can be done to adjust your levels of potassium so you don’t feel as anxious.

How can I cope with anxiety caused by low potassium? 

There are some actions you can take to make your levels of potassium better. Here is what you can do.

Look for professional help 

If you suspect you may have low potassium and this is leading you to feel anxious, the first thing you need to do is look for your doctor. They may need to do blood work on you, among other exams to determine if it is your potassium level that is causing you to feel like this. 

Once they have finished the examination, if they realize that your levels of potassium are low, they will suggest the best line of treatment for it. They may need to know about all the medications you have been taking, and if you have any other illnesses since those can impact your potassium levels.

If there is a medication that is affecting it, your doctor may choose to change it. And if you have severe hypokalemia, they may even suggest an intravenous treatment while you are accompanied by a health professional.

Take supplements 

But if your potassium levels are lower but only mildly or moderately, your doctor may suggest raising it through the intake of supplements. It is usually recommended for an adult to take between 60 and 80 mmol of the supplement each day, for a few days to raise their potassium levels.

But if you are taking potassium supplements, you should be aware that those can come with a few side effects. It can lead to irritation of the bowel, which can even cause ulceration or bleeding. 

You should never take too much of the potassium supplement to prevent having those side effects, and to have an excess of potassium in your body, which can cause a condition called hyperkalemia, which can cause, for example, serious arrhythmia.

Make your diet healthier

Aside from that, having a healthy diet can also help your potassium levels. It is unlikely that you will establish its levels only through diet, but once you reach a balance, keeping a healthy diet will help your potassium levels not get low once again.

There are a lot of foods that are rich in potassium, such as bananas, dried apricots, cooked lentils, cooked potatoes, canned kidney beans, orange juice, or even milk with 1% fat.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Can low potassium be related to anxiety? 

What are the most common effects of low potassium? 

Low potassium is not only related to anxiety. It can also lead the person to experience weakness, and to feel more fatigued. The same will happen to the person’s muscles, and because of that, they will experience more cramps.

Low potassium can also make the person have trouble in their digestive system, and can go as far as altering the pattern of the person’s heartbeat. In some cases, low potassium can also lead to trouble breathing, tingling, and numbness all over the body.

Finally, low potassium can make you urinate more often, and increase your blood pressure. Because of all these reasons, you should always keep an eye on your levels of potassium, and properly care for them whenever they are low.

What is the 3 3 3 rule for anxiety? 

The 3 3 3 rule for anxiety is a way to help you cope with anxiety. It is an exercise you can do whenever you feel that anxiety is creeping up on you. It is possible to do it as many times a day as necessary, and wherever you need it.

For that, you may want to first take a deep breath, as you feel yourself getting anxious. Afterward, you should try to name three things that you can hear around you, following you should name three things that you can see in your environment, and finally, you should name three of your body parts.

Through that, you will be able to focus more on the exercise than on the anxiety the negative thoughts are bringing you. As a consequence, you may feel yourself getting calmer, and more focused on the moment.

What is health anxiety? 

Health anxiety is a form of anxiety that is also known as hypochondria. It is a condition that causes the person to feel anxious about matters concerning their health. It can be that the person is worried about one fixed matter, or that they are hypervigilant about each sign their body gives them, which causes them to become anxious.

So as they detect that something is happening to them, they can turn to google and even go often to doctors’ appointments to try and discover what is wrong with them. In that, they may begin to get misinformation, and assume they have conditions that can be far more dangerous than what is actually happening to them.

Health anxiety can happen more often to people that have dealt with a previous traumatic health experience, even in their childhood, or sometimes with a family member.

What are types of anxiety? 

Anxiety can have many forms, and what differs one from the other is what triggers the person’s anxiety. So if a person has social anxiety, for example, it means that being in a social environment is something that will trigger their anxiety. They can become anxious about how people will perceive them, and if they will be judged by others.

There is also generalized anxiety disorder which leads the person to feel anxiety while dealing with the most routine of things. Phobias is a type of anxiety that is triggered by the worry in one specific matter, for example, the fear of heights.

There is also panic disorder which will lead the person to develop panic attacks, a form of sudden, and intense anxiety that can bring the person intense suffering. Separation anxiety is a form of anxiety that will often happen to children, this is what causes people to become afraid that others may leave them.

Is there a cure for anxiety?

No, there is no cure for anxiety. Because it is a condition that has a genetic factor to it, and that won’t change even through treatment, it isn’t possible to say you will never develop anxiety again in your lifetime.

But it is important to keep in mind that it is possible for a person to improve their anxiety to a point that it won’t have control over their life anymore, and that will often happen through treatment. 

What you should remember is that, even when you begin to feel better, you should still focus on your mental health, since that is the only way to prevent yourself from having a relapse.

Conclusion 

This article showed the connection between low potassium and anxiety. It explained how one impacts on the other, and the best ways to cope with it.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write it in the section below.

References

https://www.livestrong.com/article/250246-the-psychological-effects-of-low-potassium/
https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/potassium-deficiency-symptoms#sources

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