Home / Research & Resources / How Anemia Causes Anxiety and the Possible Treatment Options
How Anemia Causes Anxiety and the Possible Treatment Options

How Anemia Causes Anxiety and the Possible Treatment Options

Can anemia cause anxiety?

Human blood comprises white blood cells, red blood cells, and plasma. Red blood cells (RBCs) deliver nutrients and oxygen. Anemia occurs due to a reduction of the RBCs in the blood. Today we answer the question; can anemia cause anxiety?

Since healthy and sufficient red blood cells are essential for your well-being, it is important to discover any underlying causes for the ailment and then treat the anemia as quickly as possible. Before we talk about how to treat it, we must discuss it more comprehensively.

What is Anemia?

Anemia is a condition that occurs when the hemoglobin or red blood cell count is less than usual. The normal red blood cell count is different in females and males. The average hemoglobin levels for males should be more than 13.5gram/100ml, while females are more than 12.0gram/100ml. However, the definitions vary slightly depending on the laboratory reference.

In the case of chronic anemia, your body adjusts to functioning under low oxygen levels. Therefore, you may not feel much difference in your body unless anemia becomes severe. If a patient has acute anemia, they may feel significant symptoms faster and with moderately mild fluctuations in the red blood cell count.

Diagnosis of Anemia

A complete blood cell count is used to detect and confirm anemia. Ferritin or iron tests are also important when testing for anemia, especially during the first stages. Lower than usual, serum ferritin concentrations cause depression and anxiety symptoms.

Your doctor may order for a complete blood cell test during your routine general checkup. But, if you have signs of anemia or other blood abnormalities, your doctor might request a screening to diagnose anemia. Some of the critical components of a complete blood cell that help diagnose anemia are hemoglobin, red blood cell count, and hematocrit.

The other vital clues that a physician looks out for in the test is the color, size, and shape of red blood cells. Unfortunately, people can have iron deficiencies or anemia for several years without knowing. You may not notice evident symptoms of anemia during its initial stages. Since anemia has a connection with anxiety, you need to get alarmed if you start experiencing insomnia, fatigue, and depression.

Anemia and Depression

Can anemia cause anxiety - Depression & Anemia

When left untreated for a long time, anemia may cause psychological signs, such as the worsening of existing psychiatric conditions, iron deficiency depression, and cognitive disorders. Studies also reveal that the frequency of anemia in patients with anxiety and depression is higher than in the general population. Iron deficiency has adverse effects on brain function in kids. Therefore, anemia caused by iron deficiency harms women's mental health, especially those of childbearing age. Women with anemia caused by iron deficiency are at a higher risk of anxiety and depression than others.

Fatigue and weakness are among the first signs of anxiety. If hemoglobin lacks sufficient oxygen to supply to your body, your tissues and muscles become deprived. When the oxygen traveling through your body lacks enough oxygen, you will likely experience shortness of breath, making you feel dizzy, cranky, and headaches. You may also experience difficulty in concentrating, causing poor performance at work or in school. All these are signs of anxiety that can be caused by anemia.

There is a close link between iron deficiency and mental health conditions. Iron is necessary for producing healthy red blood cells containing an essential protein known as hemoglobin.

A significant percentage of iron in your body is found in muscle cells. Weak muscle cells cause an anxiety symptom of muscle tension. Blood rich in iron supplies nutrients and oxygen to your lungs and other body parts, eliminating fatigue and controlling muscles. Therefore, the lack of enough iron causes anemia. Consequently, a patient develops anxiety symptoms, such as shortness of breath and fatigue.

Panic Attacks and Anemia

Panic attacks are a common form of anxiety. People experiencing anxiety attacks experience the signs slowly as compared to those with panic attacks. While some anxiety disorders are hereditary, some are caused by medical conditions, such as anemia.

Insufficient oxygen levels in hemoglobin can trigger panic attacks. The attacks happen quickly and are ordinarily intense. They can stop within 20 to 30 minutes. Since anemia triggers these attacks, it would be paramount to seek anemia to stop the attacks.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety results typically from chemical imbalances in your brain. It is the reaction of your body and mind towards unfamiliar, stressful, and dangerous circumstances.

Some risk factors of anxiety include medical conditions, such as anemia, genetics, environmental factors, and lifestyle choices. Some treatment options for anxiety may include stress management, medications, yoga, and meditation. Counseling and cognitive behavioral therapy also help with anxiety management. These are some significant types of anxiety disorders:

  1. Panic disorder
  2. Generalized anxiety disorder
  3. Social anxiety disorder
  4. Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  5. Post-traumatic stress disorder

Signs of Anemia

Some people with anemia don’t always have signs. However, be aware of these symptoms associated with the disease:

  • Pale complexion
  • Feel tired
  • Shortness of breath
  • Develop palpitations
  • Worsening of heart conditions
  • Hair loss
  • Malaise
  • Headaches
  • Cold hands and feet

Causes of Anemia

Anemia manifests in different ways, and there is no single cause for the medical condition. It can be challenging to identify the causes of low red blood cell count. However, here are some possible causes:

  • Loss of blood
  • Impaired or reduced red blood cells: Anemia types that occur due to this cause include iron-deficiency, sickle cell, and vitamin-deficiency anemia.
  • Destruction of red blood cells

Treatment Options for Anemia and Anxiety

Since anemia has dramatic effects on mental health, it’s paramount to maintain healthy levels. Treatment for anemia starts with diet change and taking supplements. Treatment also entails addressing the primary risk factors for anemia. Other remedies include:

  • Resolving underlying medical conditions
  • Addressing the cause of excessive bleeding
  • Bone marrow transplants and blood transfusions
  • Pain relief medication and oxygen therapy
  • Immunosuppressant drugs


An essential step towards curbing anxiety is discovering and eliminating nutritional deficiencies that cause anxiety symptoms and mood swings. Anemia influences your physical and mental health.

You might consider checking your iron and red blood cell levels if you struggle with moods, energy levels, and anxiety. Consider using the above remedies, such as diet change for anemia and anxiety treatment.



  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4253901/
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anemia/symptoms-causes/syc-20351360
  3. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/158800#treatment
  4. https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/understanding-anemia-symptoms#


Leave a comment