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Can Anxiety Cause Sadness?


We all experience a drop in mood from time to time, it’s perfectly normal, however when the low moods and sadness start to become more frequent and persistent it can become a real issue. It’s worth noting that depression is something that a doctor needs to diagnose, so if you feel if this is relevant for you, please visit your GP. This being said, low mood has also been linked to anxiety.


As with a lot of symptoms of anxiety, the triggers lie within our caveman brain. This is the survival-driven part of our brain that our newer, rational cortex grew on top of. Its primary concern is keeping us alive, so when our brain perceives a threat, it releases these stress chemicals and activates a response called the fight, flight or freeze response. The stress hormone cortisol or the chemical adrenaline are released and this puts our body on high alert, and as a result, our body prepares to either fight, flight or freeze. 


How Can Anxiety Cause Sadness?

There’s a few reasons why anxiety might cause sadness. When we’re in fight, flight or freeze mode, our body is using a load of energy, burning through our blood sugar reserves. As a result, we feel fatigued both physically and emotionally, which can display as a lower mood. This in turn leaves us feeling unmotivated and like everything feels like too much effort which creates a cycle of feeling unaccomplished, perpetuating the low mood.


When we suffer with anxiety, we also spend a lot of time focusing on things that we cannot control or things that have already happened and can’t change. This can leave us feeling helpless and in a low mood. Combined with the physical symptoms that come with our fight, flight and freeze responses, it can be a perfect storm for prolonged low moods.


How Can I Stop This Symptom?

In order to combat the parts of this symptom that stem from our fight, flight or freeze response, the main thing that we can do to combat it is to focus on our breathing and allow yourself to focus on the present moment. This should calm our central nervous system, distract our mind from the perceived threat, and deactivate our fight, flight or freeze response allowing our emotional centre to level out. 


However, with prolonged low moods, you need to consider managing or building strategies to tackle your anxiety. There are several options available including CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), mindfulness, medication and group therapy. If you’re unsure, please contact your GP for more information.