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Adrenal Gland Disorders and Anxiety

Adrenal Gland Disorders and Anxiety

Adrenal gland disorders and anxiety have a very close connection. This article sheds some light on this relation.
Medha Godbole
Last Updated: Dec 21, 2017
Adrenal glands are one of the most important glands of our endocrine system, and they are located above the kidneys. They secrete hormones in situations when the body encounters stress or danger. These glands are responsible for the production of many hormones such as estrogen, progesterone, steroids, cortisol, and cortisone. Any problem in the functioning of this gland can lead to adrenal gland disorder. A common symptom of such disorders is anxiety. Following are some disorders of the adrenal gland, which lead to anxiety:
Pheochromocytoma
The most prominent symptom of this disease is high blood pressure or hypertension. What triggers high blood pressure is too much secretion of hormones from the adrenal gland. There is a sudden attack of these symptoms. In addition to this and anxiety, some of the possible symptoms of this disorder are headaches, excess sweating, racing heart, rapid breathing, nervousness, pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen, nausea, and heat intolerance. Hyperaldosterone is another disorder, which occurs due to excess secretion of hormones by the adrenal glands, leading to almost the same symptoms.
Addison's Disease
In this disorder, the body does not produce the amount of cortisol (a steroid hormone) required for normal body functions. As opposed to the earlier disorder, a possible symptom of Addison's disease is low blood pressure. Here too, the person experiences anxiety, and some more of this adrenal gland disease symptoms are diarrhea, headache, sweating, changes in mood and personality, sudden drops in blood pressure, and joint and muscle pain. This a rare disease, named after Thomas Addison, the British physician.
Cushing's Syndrome
Cushing's Syndrome is a medical condition where more than required amount of corticosteroids is produced by the adrenal glands. Pituitary adenoma is one of the causes of this disorder. An excess of Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) is specifically connected with this rare adrenal gland disorder. Amongst the cases of this disorder, the maximum have been women. The symptoms include gaining weight on your face (moon face) and in the upper back, thinning of skin on the trunk, buttocks, arms, legs, or breasts, proximal muscle weakness (hips, shoulders), and hirsutism (facial male-pattern hair growth). Another symptom is baldness or extremely dry and brittle hair. These have been the symptoms which have been observed in people with this syndrome. These may vary, and a few psychological effects like depression, along with anxiety and a few others are also observed in Cushing's syndrome patients.
Pituitary Adenoma
A small pea-sized gland at the base of the brain, pituitary gland, is another important gland regulating the development and secretion of hormones in our body. Pituitary adenoma affects the hormones which regulate the growth and activity of the other glands in the body. Consequently, problems with the adrenal gland may crop up. In this disease, there is an abnormal growth or tumor in the master gland. The good part though is that it does not spread to other parts of the body. Symptoms of this disorder include headache, infertility, fatigue, low or high blood pressure, or growth failure.
Along with this, acute adrenal failure linked to Addison's disease occurs suddenly. It leads to adrenal problems and shows specific symptoms. These include elevated levels of potassium in the blood, pain in legs, abdomen, or the lower back, and unconsciousness. Hypotension or low blood pressure, diarrhea, and vomiting are also amongst the symptoms of this problem.
Anxiety is almost the common feature of all these disorders because the level of hormone secretion directly affects the central nervous system. The treatment for these disorders is based on the severity and diagnosis of the problem. Normally, if the hormone levels are low, they are replaced by supplementing them through Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). On the contrary, the treatment to lower the level of secretion of hormones from adrenal glands gets complicated.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.