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What You Must Know About Anaemia & Stress?

By Isha Kukde +2 more

What is Anaemia?

Anemia can be defined as a disease where the patient’s body lacks red blood cells (RBC) or more accurately – haemoglobin. The term ”poor ability of the blood to carry oxygen” can also be used for the definition of anaemia. The main three reasons which explain why you might suffer from anaemia are –

anemia symptoms

  • Excessive blood loss.
  • Decreased production of red blood cells.
  • An increase in the number of red blood cells break down.

Some symptoms of anaemia are listed below:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Heart palpitations
  • Weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Tingling in extreme situations

These symptoms that are mentioned above are not only the symptoms of anaemia but also the symptoms of anxiety. Apart from anxiety, some other disorders that also show the same symptoms are:

  • Hyperventilation
  • Panic attacks

The diseases mentioned above are all a cause of stress. This now raises the question of whether anaemia and anxiety are related or not.

Did you know?

  • Anaemia can be diagnosed through a blood test called a full blood count. source: Healthdirect
  • Iron supplements may be recommended as a treatment for anaemia. source: Healthdirect
  • Long-term stress may worsen asthma and is linked to depression and anxiety. source: NCCIH
  • There is no drug to cure stress, but relaxation techniques can counteract its effects. source: NCCIH

The Relation between Anaemia and Stress

There are many explanations that state that stress can be a cause of anaemia. Stress is the reaction that your body produces when faced with any demand or threat. A little stress is good for you as it might be beneficial, but when it becomes excessive, the pressure that you are under has chances of becoming unhealthy for you and harms your life.

Stress Causing Anaemia

Anxiety, hyperventilation and even panic disorders are the reactions that your body produces against stress. When we are under stress, our body undergoes specific chemical changes which might cause anaemia. Some explanations regarding this point are:

  • Most of the time stress can lead to anxiety and anxiety can contribute to anaemia. Stress is believed to affect the vitamin metabolism in your body. So, if you are under a lot of stress, your body uses up a lot of magnesium. Again, if you are suffering from both stress and anxiety, the level of magnesium in your body might reach a minimum level, thus causing mild anaemia.
  • Hyperventilation also leads to excessive use of magnesium and causes you to suffer from mild anaemia.
  • Anxiety also affects your eating habits. This in turn, affects your vitamin and protein intake leading to mild anaemia.
  • Sustained stress is another cause of anaemia. Excessive stress hinders the manufacture of hydrochloric acid in your body, which is very important for the integration of iron and proteins. The deficiency of iron is equal to lack of haemoglobin and thus, anaemia.

Also Read: What is Hyperventilation: Understanding the Medical Definition and Symptoms

Lastly, from the above points of how stress causes anaemia, it becomes clear that controlling stress can also help you control anaemia. Taking time to relax and getting enough sleep will help you a lot to deal with stress. These two steps will aid you in getting the required energy for your body and mind to deal with everything without feeling anxious or stressed. You can follow some simple breathing techniques like Pranayama and also meditation which have proven to be very useful in stress control.

Studies have persistently demonstrated higher levels of depression, anxiety and stress and decreased spatial memory scores in females with iron deficiency anemia.

Dr. M.G. Kartheeka, MBBS, MD

The Importance Of Diet with Stress And Anaemia  

If you begin to experience anaemia due to stress, you’ll need to manage your diet to help support recovery from both of them. Stress management techniques like mediation, counselling, exercise and more are important but even your diet can aid in this process. Additionally, since anaemia is directly connected with your biological processes, a nutritious and balanced diet can help to eliminate your deficiencies.  

Anemia especially iron deficient anemia is strongly correlated with depression and anxiety. You may experience frequent food swings and irritability if you suffer from anemia. Treatment is surely a good way to tackle this.

Dr. Ashish Bajaj, M.B.B.S., M.D.

Here are some dietary choices to make when you are trying to reduce stress and improve anaemia:

  • Matcha tea contains a powerful amino acid called L-theanine, it has been   shown to reduce stress levels in humans (especially if there is a low caffeine content),
  • Swiss Chard is one of the best foods that reduce cortisol levels since it contains ample amounts of magnesium. Low levels of magnesium are associated with high-stress levels and are also mildly linked to anaemia.
  • Healthy carbs like sweet potatoes have been linked with lower levels of stress hormones, they are also valuable sources of vitamin C and potassium.
  • Eggs are a rich source of many nutrients, making them a great choice for both anaemia and stress management. It is among the foods that reduce stress levels by helping to boost brain health due to the presence of choline, a nutrient involved in brain development. Additionally, it contains loads of vitamins, minerals as well as helpful antioxidants all of which can contribute to a reduction in iron deficiency.
  • Meat, especially organ meats (liver, kidney) of animals like chickens contain high amounts of iron to combat anaemia, as well as helpful stress control vitamins like B vitamins (these are involved in mood regulation).  

There are plenty of other healthy diet options to research, but be sure that your dietary choices do not negatively affect either stress or anaemia. For example, eggs may benefit a stress management diet, but excessive amounts can block iron absorption. Keep these kinds of issues in mind when preparing your diet to manage both stress and anaemia.

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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