Effects of Anxiety and Stress on Weight Loss

No matter how little, the state of mind, including physical and mental conditions, is affected by stress and anxiety. Consequently, it affects weight or gain for the involved person and depends on the situation at hand.

However, many factors may be responsible for weight gain or weight loss. These factors may also change from one person to another, as well as the environment. Anyone who overworks him or herself may lose the appetite for food and begin to lose weight.

Particular unusual behavior can also add to body stress and make it difficult for the body to adjust. For example, staying up late at night to meet up with a deadline or skipping lunch due to work disrupt the body’s ability to cope with stress.

However, not all weight or fat loss is permanent, especially if they are due to stress factors. When the stress is removed, the body may be restored, and the symptoms may varnish. Besides, there are ways to detect if the experienced weight loss is due to the stress of not.

10 Symptoms that show that weight loss is due to stress

  1. Chronic incessant headaches
  2. Body aches and chest pain
  3. Increased heart rate
  4. Reduced sex drive
  5. Low sleep quality or total loss of sleep
  6. The low short-term memory
  7. Mood swings
  8. Tense muscles
  9. Mood changes and persistently feeling on the edge
  10. General fatigue

Do you need to see a Doctor?

The loss of a few pounds may not immediately become a matter of concern. When there is a drastic change with a negative toll on the body, there is a need to adjust. If you discover there is room to make a few adjustments here and there, it is better and safe to do it.

However, only a medical expert can ascertain if the symptoms you feel are due to stress or not. Experts say that if you add up to 5% or more of your overall body weight over 6 to 12 months, you need to see a doctor.

Once a doctor diagnoses that the drastic bodyweight loss is due to stress and related matters, there are a few possible solutions a doctor may prescribe:

  • Develop healthy coping strategies for the period, such as some kinds of meal, reorganizing work and rest periods, fun activities to relax, and so on.
  • Prescribe medication that can enhance your immune system and energy levels
  • Physiotherapy solution that includes exercise to beat the stress

Later in this article, we will share a few possible solutions that are generally applicable to weight loss due to stress. But before then, let us review the possible causes of body weight loss.

How does anxiety or stress cause weight loss?

There are some complex processes in our body that the body fails to adequately cope with the effect of stress. Some of these processes force the body to enter a ‘fight or flight’ mode to survive.

The ‘fight’ mode refers to the ability to deal with and overcome a threat. In contrast, ‘flight’ refers to the body avoiding such intrusions altogether. Therefore, what are the typical activities that lead to bodyweight loss?

1. The Stress response

As earlier discussed, the body’s emergency response to stress is the fight or flight response. As a result, the body stimulates certain hormones to help adjust to the new development. For instance, the body releases adrenaline to prepare for more physical activities and cortisol to suppress less-needed activities.

2. Hyperstimulation of the stress responses

As the body stimulates the hormones continually in the fight and flight response, it can lead to another gastrointestinal discomfort. Some of the common symptoms include heartburn, stomach pain, diarrhea, and constipation.

If these conditions continue for a while, they may lead to other chronic stress syndromes such as irritable bowel syndrome. The result of this condition is eating less and, subsequently, weight loss or fat loss.

3. Change in the HPA axis

Any change in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis controls the body’s response and influences cortisol. The hormonal secretion can also lead to the secretion of both glucose and fatty acids from the liver.

4. Excess nervous energy

Under nervous energy, the changes in the body cause the system to consume more power. As a result, it becomes much more difficult for the body to relax after the day’s work. Also, people who don’t have a designated rest time will keep their nervous system on edge.

5. Sleep disorder

Chronic stress can also cause a sleep disorder where the sleep clock of the body is disrupted. This condition is often a result of cortisol’s over-secretion, which is a stress hormone stimulant that keeps the body continually active.

The more active the body gets, the more difficult it is to shut down when you need to sleep. As a result of this disruption, the affected person will continue to shed more weight. Therefore, the more stress your body accrues through anxiety, the more likely you will lose more weight.

Recommended remedies to weight loss due to stress and anxiety

Some of the short-term remedies when you notice stress in your body include the following:

  1. Actively reduce your stress as much as you can. In other words, adjust your schedule of activities to accommodate a more regularized eating and resting.
  2. Increase your intake of protein and carbohydrates with a lot of water. Don’t just rely on your regular meals, but rather try out some snacking to enhance your appetite.
  3. Use a nutritional supplement to also boost your body system functions, including immunity. This action can also help to control your body’s demand for fuel
  4. Slow down all metabolic processes of your body through more rest and actual sleep. This activity will help to slow down the rate at which your body consumes ‘fuel.’
  5. You may need to consult a nutritionist who can guide you on the kinds of foods you need to control your body’s response to stress and anxiety.


On a final note, no doubt, anxiety, and stress can affect the body’s weight and fat loss. Therefore, it is imperative to note how the body changes when undergoing stress. On the other hand, you can respond by some of the suggested solutions here when experiencing this stress.

See you on the other side!