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Can Sugar Cause Anxiety? The Connection You Need To Know

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The stuff you eat might have long-term negative repercussions on your health. In particular, eating too much sugar may increase your risk of developing mood disorders like anxiety. Learn more about the relationship between sugar and anxiety by reading on.

By We Level Up FL Treatment Center | Editor Yamilla Francese | Clinically Reviewed By Lauren Barry, LMFT, MCAP, QS, Director of Quality Assurance | Editorial Policy | Research Policy | Last Updated: January 16, 2023

Difference Between Anxiety and Depression – Can Sugar Cause Anxiety?

Anxiety and depression difference: The fact that one term denotes a single sickness while the other denotes a collection of ailments is a significant distinction between anxiety and depression.

In reality, depression is one illness. There are numerous distinct symptoms (see below). And different people may experience it very differently. However, the term “depression” only refers to one illness.

The word “anxiety” can indicate a number of different things. We all experience anxiety occasionally, and the word “anxiety” can be used to describe that feeling simply. However, when we use the word anxiety in a medical context, it actually refers to anxiety disorder.

Some less frequent conditions are included under anxiety. These include panic disorders and phobias. However, generalized anxiety disorder is the most prevalent (GAD). In the US, a generalized anxiety disorder may affect four to five out of every 100 persons. In this post, we’ll concentrate on generalized anxiety.

What is Anxiety Disorder?

According to The National Institute on Mental Health, periodic anxiety is a standard component of life. When faced with a challenge at work, before a test, or before making a crucial decision, you could experience anxiety. However, anxiety disorders involve more than just passing apprehension or terror.

Anxiety and depression difference: It’s critical to get anxiety treatment as soon as possible since, for someone with an anxiety condition, the anxiety does not go away and can worsen over time. The symptoms might affect daily tasks like work performance, academic progress, and interpersonal connections. Generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and various phobia-related disorders are only a few of the several types of anxiety disorders.

Anxiety and depression difference: People with a generalized Anxiety disorder (GAD) display excessive Anxiety or worry, most days for at least 6 months, about many things such as personal health, work, social interactions, and everyday routine life circumstances. Fear and Anxiety can cause significant problems in areas of their life, such as social interactions, school, and work. 

What is Depression?

Depression (also known as Major Depressive Illness or Clinical Depression) is a common but significant mood disorder, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. It produces severe symptoms that interfere with your ability to function on a daily basis, including sleeping, eating, and working. The signs of depression must last for at least two weeks before a diagnosis may be made.

Depression treatment is required when depressive symptoms are chronic and do not go away since some types of depression are slightly different or may arise in unusual situations.

Types of Depression

  • Persistent depressive disorder (also called dysthymia): is a depressed mood that lasts for at least two years. A person diagnosed with persistent depressive disorder may have episodes of major Depression along with periods of less severe symptoms, but symptoms must last for two years to be considered a persistent depressive disorder.
  • Psychotic Depression: occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false fixed beliefs (delusions) or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations). The psychotic symptoms typically have a depressive “theme,” such as delusions of guilt, poverty, or illness.
  • Bipolar disorder: is different from Depression, but it is included in this list because someone with bipolar disorder experiences episodes of extremely low moods that meet the criteria for major Depression (called “Bipolar Depression”). But a person with bipolar disorder also experiences extreme high – euphoric or irritable – moods called “mania” or a less severe form called “hypomania.”
  • Postpartum Depression: is much more serious than the “baby blues” (relatively mild depressive and anxiety symptoms that typically clear within two weeks after delivery) that many women experience after giving birth. Women with postpartum Depression experience full-blown major Depression during pregnancy or after delivery (postpartum depression). The feelings of extreme sadness, anxiety, and exhaustion that accompany postpartum depression may make it difficult for these new mothers to complete daily care activities for themselves and/or their babies.
  • Seasonal affective disorder: is characterized by the onset of Depression during the winter months, when there is less natural sunlight. This Depression generally lifts during spring and summer. Winter Depression, typically accompanied by social withdrawal, increased sleep, and weight gain, predictably returns every year in seasonal affective disorder.
  • SAD Seasonal Depression (Depressed SAD): A form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is triggered by the changing of the seasons; it starts and ends about at the same periods each year. If you have SAD like the majority of people do, your symptoms begin in the fall and last through the winter, draining your energy and making you cranky. Typically, these symptoms go away in the spring and summer. SAD less frequently results in depression in the spring or early summer and clears up in the fall or winter. SAD treatment options include medications, psychotherapy, and light therapy (phototherapy).

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Anxiety Fact Sheet

Anxiety Overview

A mental health condition marked by intense feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear that interferes with daily activities. Panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder are a few examples of anxiety disorders.
The inability to put aside worry, restlessness and stress that is out of proportion to the severity of the incident are among the symptoms.
Counseling or medicine, including antidepressants, are used as forms of treatment.


Anxiety Symptoms

Behavioral: hypervigilance, irritability, or restlessness.

Cognitive: lack of concentration, racing thoughts, or unwanted thoughts.

Whole body: fatigue or sweating

Also common:  anxiety, excessive worry, angor animi, fear, insomnia, nausea, palpitations, or trembling

Anxiety Treatment

  • Support group: A place where those pursuing the same disease or objective, such as weight loss or depression, can receive counseling and exchange experiences.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: A conversation treatment that aimed to change the negative attitudes, actions, and feelings connected to psychiatric discomfort.
  • Counseling psychology: A subfield of psychology that handles issues with the self that are connected to work, school, family, and social life.
  • Anger management: To reduce destructive emotional outbursts, practice mindfulness, coping skills, and trigger avoidance.
  • Psychoeducation: Mental health education that also helps individuals feel supported, validated, and empowered
  • Family therapy: psychological counseling that improves family communication and conflict resolution.

Anxiety Statistics

It’s critical to understand the distinction between anxiety and depression. Anxiety, in its most basic form, is an excessive feeling of worry, whereas depression, in its most basic form, is an excessive feeling of worthlessness and hopelessness. It is conceivable for someone to experience depression and anxiety simultaneously.


6.8 million

GAD affects 6.8 million adults or 3.1% of the U.S. population, yet only 43.2% are receiving treatment.

Source: National Institute on Mental Health

19 million

19 million adults experience specific phobias, making it the most common anxiety disorder in America.  

Source: ADAA2020

17.3 million

Major depressive disorder affects approximately 17.3 million American adults or about 7.1% of the U.S. population aged 18 and older.

Source: National Institute of Mental Health


Generalized anxiety disorder and depression can both have emotional and physical symptoms.
Generalized anxiety disorder and depression can both have emotional and physical symptoms.

Does Sugar Cause Anxiety? Sugar And Anxiety

The odd sugary treat won’t make you anxious. However, research indicates that sugar-rich diets can affect your mood. Here is what the research indicates.

Researchers gathered information on 23,245 persons for a 2017 study. They discovered that after five years, men who consumed more sugar had a 23 percent increased likelihood of having common mental disorders (CMD).

Just so you know, this covers anxiety and depressive disorders. The researchers also mentioned that consuming less sugar may contribute to better mental wellness.

Another recent study of 1,128 older persons indicated that those who consumed more sugar and saturated fat than they did were more likely to have higher levels of anxiety.

Additionally, it has been discovered that simple sugar-rich diets might cause inflammation and cognitive dysfunction. Both of these elements have the potential to exacerbate mental health issues, such as anxiety.

Sugar Anxiety: Your Diet and Anxiety

Can too much sugar cause anxiety? Contemporary Western diets are frequently laden with unhealthy carbohydrates and fats, according to several health professionals. However, it is unlikely that food by itself will result in anxiety problems. Instead, it’s thought that eating poorly might worsen anxiety symptoms by altering how the body functions and making it more difficult for the body and mind to handle stress.

Because of this, folks who genuinely wish to combat their anxiety may need to seek beyond simple dietary adjustments to do so.

Can Sugar Cause Anxiety At Night?

When you eat a lot of refined sugar, your energy level increases due to an insulin rush, and subsequently, your blood sugar levels drop. You experience fatigue and anxiety as a result. You feel uneasy because adrenalin and cortisol, two chemicals, are released when blood sugar levels fall from high to low.

Can Sugar Cause Anxiety And Panic Attacks?

Blood sugar levels that are constantly rising and falling can cause the release of adrenalin and cortisol into the bloodstream, which can lead to anxiety and occasionally even panic attacks.

Foods That Reduce Anxiety And Depression: Foods That Reduce Anxiety

What foods reduce anxiety? Eating foods that are naturally high in magnesium may make one feel calmer. Leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard are two examples. Whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes are additional sources. Oysters, cashews, liver, beef, and egg yolks are among the foods high in zinc that have been associated with reduced anxiety.

1. Foods That Reduce Anxiety Fast: Fatty fish

Omega-3s are abundant in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines, trout, and herring. Fatty acids of the omega-3 variety have a significant impact on mental and cognitive functioning.

2. Foods To Reduce Depression And Anxiety: Eggs

Foods for reducing anxiety: One such excellent source of vitamin D is egg yolks, particularly those from hens raised on pasture. Another great protein source is eggs. They include all the key amino acids the body needs for growth and development since they are complete proteins.

Tryptophan, another amino acid found in eggs, aids in the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical neurotransmitter that helps control mood, sleep, memory, and behavior. It is found in the brain, gut, and blood platelets.

3. Foods To Reduce Anxiety: Pumpkin seeds

Potassium, which helps control blood pressure and maintain electrolyte balance, is abundant in pumpkin seeds. An earlier study from 2008 discovered that higher levels of cortisol, a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands, were linked to decreased potassium and magnesium levels.

Consuming foods high in potassium, including bananas and pumpkin seeds, may help lessen the signs and symptoms of stress and anxiety.

4. Anxiety Reducing Foods: Dark chocolate

Long-held theories among experts suggest that dark chocolate may lessen anxiety and tension. According to certain studies, cocoa or dark chocolate may elevate mood by influencing the gut-brain axis. However, since a large number of the currently conducted research on this topic are observational, it is crucial to use caution when interpreting the findings.

Despite the lack of convincing evidence, dark chocolate is a good source of polyphenols, particularly flavonoids, which may help with stress or mood. According to one study, flavonoids may increase blood flow while also reducing neuroinflammation and brain cell death.

5. Foods That Help Reduce Anxiety: Turmeric

Spices like turmeric are frequently utilized in Southeast Asian and Indian cuisine. Curcumin, the active component in turmeric, may assist people with anxiety by lowering inflammation and oxidative stress, two factors that frequently rise in people with mood disorders like anxiety and depression.

According to a 2015 study, persons with obesity who took 1 g of curcumin daily reported feeling less anxious. If someone is interested in items with high doses of curcumin, they should talk to their doctor about taking supplements.

6. Foods That Reduce Stress And Anxiety: Chamomile

Because of its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antioxidant, and sedative characteristics, chamomile tea is a popular herbal treatment all over the world. Some individuals think that the flavonoids found in chamomile are what give it its calming and anti-anxiety effects.

can high blood sugar cause anxiety attacks? According to one study, taking 500 mg capsules of chamomile extract three times daily at doses of 1,500 mg did help with anxiety symptoms. It did not, however, stop anxiety attacks from happening again. Using chamomile tea to reduce anxiety may be beneficial. It is simple to obtain and safe to use in large quantities.

7. Anxiety Reducing Food: Yogurt

The beneficial bacteria Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium can be found in yogurt. Recent research indicates that these bacteria and fermented foods benefit brain health.

Yogurt and other dairy products may have an anti-inflammatory effect on the body, according to a 2017 clinical evaluation. According to several studies, anxiety, stress, and depression may be partially brought on by chronic inflammation.

While numerous studies have found that consuming beneficial bacteria can improve happiness in certain people, one from 2015 found that fermented foods lowered social anxiety in some young people. Yogurt and other fermented foods can help the body’s natural gut flora and may even lower anxiety and stress.

8. Food That Reduces Anxiety: Green tea

Theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, has been under increased study due to its conceivable effects on mood disorders. Theanine may boost serotonin and dopamine production and has relaxing and anti-anxiety properties.

According to a 2017 analysis, 200 mg of theanine increased self-reported tranquility and relaxation while lowering stress in human trials. It’s simple to incorporate green tea into a regular diet. It is a good substitute for alcoholic beverages, soft drinks, and coffee.

9. Food To Reduce Anxiety: Brazil nuts

Selenium is abundant in Brazil nuts. By lowering inflammation, which is frequently at an elevated level when someone has a mood condition like anxiety, selenium may enhance mood. Additionally, an antioxidant, selenium aids in preventing cell deterioration.

Selenium is also abundant in other nuts, meat, and vegetables, including mushrooms and soybeans. It’s crucial to avoid consuming too much selenium because it may have negative effects. A daily intake of 400 micrograms of selenium for adults is advised. Be careful not to consume more than three or four Brazil nuts per day or high-dose supplements.

Brazil nuts and other nuts are excellent sources of the antioxidant vitamin E. Antioxidants can help cure anxiety, and some studies have found that children with low vitamin E levels may develop anxiety.

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Anxiety And Blood Sugar (Anxiety Blood Sugar)

Blood Sugar And Anxiety: Can Low Blood Sugar Cause Anxiety?

Low blood sugar and anxiety (low blood sugar anxiety): Your body tries to raise your blood sugar when it falls. It releases epinephrine (adrenaline), a “fight or flight” hormone that instructs your liver to produce more glucose, among other things (blood sugar).

Can anxiety cause low blood sugar? Your heart and hands sweat when you are under the effects of adrenaline. Additionally, it may give you a bad mood and anxiety. These are red flags that your blood sugar level is dangerously low. If pain persists, your body releases extra chemicals, including cortisol, sometimes referred to as “the stress hormone,” in part because it aids in mood and fear regulation. So, does low blood sugar cause anxiety? Anxiety is a result of the interaction between the hormones cortisol and adrenaline.

Can Anxiety Raise Blood Sugar In Non Diabetics?

People without diabetes who experience anxiety run the risk of gaining weight and developing high cholesterol, both of which can eventually result in hyperglycemia. The pancreas’ normal physiological role is to create the hormone insulin, which transports glucose from the blood to the liver for storage.

High Blood Sugar and Anxiety

Can Stress And Anxiety Cause High Blood Sugar?

Can anxiety cause high blood sugar? Stress and anxiety hormones play a significant influence. Hormones are released when you are under physical or emotional stress, and this raises your blood sugar. Other important hormones included include cortisol and adrenaline.

Can high blood sugar cause anxiety? This reaction is quite normal. For instance, you need these hormones to get your body ready for a “fight or flight” scenario if a barking dog is chasing you or you are in a perilous circumstance. However, even if there isn’t a serious physical threat present, your body still releases these chemicals when you’re anxious.

The outcome? is a spike in blood sugar, faster heartbeat, and higher blood pressure. The issue becomes increasingly challenging. Your hormones and blood sugar will continue to rise if you are continually stressed. This eventually puts you in danger for:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Sleep problems
  • Chronic anxiety
  • Depression

This is one reason why it’s so important to treat your stress and anxiety.

Can Anxiety Cause Blood Sugar to Rise?

High levels of anxiety can cause the release of sympathetic hormones, which can increase glucose and cortisol levels, decrease insulin release, or alter the sensitivity and resistance of the insulin hormone.

Does High Blood Sugar Feel Like Anxiety?

A rising body of research points to a connection between mood and glycemic (blood sugar) highs and lows. It has been demonstrated that signs of poor glycemic control closely resemble mental health signs like irritation, anxiety, and worry. This shouldn’t be surprising because glucose is the main fuel for the brain.

Can a Sugar Crash Cause Anxiety?

A recent study reveals that sugar may increase your chance of developing mood disorders like anxiety and depression symptoms, in addition to the sugar crash, which is the immediate spike and subsequent drop in blood sugar levels after eating.

Consuming excessive amounts of simple sugars may increase your chance of developing anxiety, mood disorders, and other long-term health problems.
Consuming excessive amounts of simple sugars may increase your chance of developing anxiety, mood disorders, and other long-term health problems.

Similar to how sugar rush and withdrawal can resemble some of the physical signs of anxiety, including trembling and uneasiness, This is related to the energy rush you experience as your bloodstream breaks down glucose to release quick bursts of energy.

However, depending on what you eat and how long you wait before eating again, you may be in danger of overstimulating your body and making anxiety worse if you eat sugar. For the majority of people, this only happens after significant sugar consumption.

Although these symptoms aren’t the cause of your anxiety, if you already have it, the additional trembling and tension may exacerbate it.

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Gut Health And Anxiety (Anxiety And Gut Health)

Numerous research point to a symbiotic relationship between intestinal health and mental well-being. A person may benefit from both probiotics and diet to improve both.

The most prevalent mental health issue in the United States, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), is anxiety disorders. At the same time, 100 million ambulatory care visits are related to digestive illnesses each year.

The “gut-brain axis,” a sophisticated system of communication between the two organs, and the function of bacteria in people’s gastrointestinal tracts have been the subject of research examining whether anxiety and gastrointestinal diseases are related.

This article investigates the relationship between gut health and anxiety, as well as the causes, signs, and treatments of anxiety.

What is The Link Between Gut Health And Depression And Anxiety?

Food digestion is made possible by a network of organs, neurons, hormones, and microorganisms in the gut, or gastrointestinal system (GI). The central nervous system (CNS), which connects the brain and GI directly, transmits signals that regulate several aspects of digestion.

The enteric nervous system, another crucial control center, is located within the GI lining (ENS). With 100 million nerve cells, the ENS can function without the brain. It may have an impact on how the stomach and one’s mental health are related, according to scientists.

A 2015 review of the gut-brain axis found that the brain and ENS work together to govern gastrointestinal functions, connecting the brain’s centers for cognitive and emotional function with GI systems. According to researchers, this communication system may have an impact on higher cognitive function and motivation.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) sufferers and those with other digestive illnesses may also experience significant emotional changes as a result of the ENS, according to experts. GI irritation may transmit signals to the CNS that cause mood swings.

Anxiety Gut Health: How Does Gut Health Affect Anxiety?

Gut health anxiety: Numerous research has examined the link between anxiety and the gut microbiome. A person’s gastrointestinal tract (GI) contains billions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses that the body needs for good health. This system of microorganisms is known as the gut microbiota.

The gut microbiota is crucial for controlling the immune system and converting dietary energy. These functions can be impacted by changes in the microbiome, and experts think mental health may also be affected.

According to a review published in 2019, stress and depression may alter the composition of the gut microbiota by causing changes to the autonomic nervous system, inflammation, and stress hormones. In response, the gut microbiota releases metabolites, toxins, and neurohormones that can change how people feel and how they eat.

Further investigating this connection, a 2017 review proposes that the release of neurotransmitters and cytokines during GI inflammation stresses the microbiome. According to research, elevated levels of inflammatory cytokines are closely related to depressive and anxious feelings.

Anxiety and depression co-occur between 44 and 88% of the time with IBS, a GI disorder characterized by inflammation and possible gut flora changes. To determine whether this association is causal, more study is required.

The aforementioned 2015 review cites research on animal subjects that demonstrates how the microbiome also affects stress reactivity and anxiety-like behavior. A 2021 review found that the gut microbiota contributes to the growth and operation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis. An anxiety or depressive condition is frequently linked to a faulty HPA, which regulates a person’s adaptive stress response.

Additionally, gut bacteria control the synthesis of neurotransmitters including serotonin, which experts believe is involved in mood stabilization.

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We Level Up Dual Diagnosis Treatment

The exact definition of dual diagnosis (also referred to as co-occurring disorders) can differ between institutions.  However, it is generally described as the specific treatment of someone who has been diagnosed with a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder at the same time. Treating dual-diagnosis clients is a critical aspect of our inpatient treatment experience because co-occurring disorders are strongly correlated with instances of substance abuse.

Creating a treatment plan that addresses the physical aspects of withdrawal, the psychological connection with drug use, and managing underlying mental health disorders is part of setting clients up for success.  A thorough mental health analysis identifies possibilities for treatment.  Meeting with mental health counselors and medical care providers means access to behavioral therapy and medication treatment. At our dual diagnosis treatment center, We Level Up can implement the highest quality of care. 

We recognize the fragile complexities of how mental and substance abuse disorders can influence others and sometimes result in a vicious cycle of addiction.  That’s why we offer specialized treatment in dual-diagnosis cases to provide the most excellent chance of true healing and long-lasting recovery.

It can be challenging to accept that you may be living with a mental illness, but once it is properly diagnosed and treated, treating the presenting case of substance abuse can be magnitudes easier. Only a properly trained medical professional can diagnose these underlying conditions.  If you believe you are suffering from a disorder alongside addiction, we urge you to seek a qualified treatment center to begin your journey to recovery. Call We Level Up today.

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