If you are suffering from anxiety, you need some help in fighting it – read on to find out four adverse effects of sugar when dealing with it.

If you are among the many suffering from anxiety, you know that finding out the problem is only half the battle. You must find foods that can harm your progress; sugar is among the worst culprits. Sugar can wreck your body if you indulge too much in it. Sadly though, a majority of us are overeating it today – as much as 75 per cent.

If you have a sweet tooth, it can be discouraging to find out the primary culprit is the thing you love. The adverse effects it has are common knowledge since many people advise reducing your sugar intake to lower your risk of getting diseases and increase your chances of losing weight. However, there are ways you can satisfy this desire while remaining healthy and reducing the chances of experiencing flare-ups.

You first need to know how sugar affects your mental health, so read on to find out.

Sugar results in intense lows and highs

You have probably had a stressful day, and the first thing you think of when you go home or leave class or the office is getting a whole pint of ice cream to wash the stress away. Sounds familiar?

If you have ever used this method to wash away that stressful feeling, you probably know well what a sugar rush involves. While you may get through a sugar rush and crash without significant effects, it can affect others negatively, much more than you realize.

This is because eating vast amounts of processed sugars has the opposite effect when sugar lows happen. It triggers feelings of sadness, irritability and worries, which is a double-edged sword when you have the additional burden of dealing with anxiety or depression.

The next question is, why does sugar lead to these effects? To answer the question, knowing what happens in the body after you take in sugar is essential.

The body releases insulin in the blood, which will assist the body in absorbing excess blood sugar (glucose) levels, which will encourage stabilizing glucose levels. Even though this sounds like a good thing, it is not – because the sugar rush makes the body work harder than usual to get back to normal.

The sudden fluctuations in glucose levels will leave you feeling irritated, more tired than before, jittery, and just a general nervous wreck. When you have depression or anxiety, the symptoms are there daily, and sugar will only worsen them.

It will make your mental illness worse, even if it does not cause it

If you are dealing with depression, anxiety, or any mental illness, you know how you are heading into disaster territory when you binge on sugary foods and treats. The highs and lows are more pronounced than usual and leave you more irritable, tense and shaky; which are all hallmarks of worsening anxiety, just like drug addiction.

This is not the only effect, though. In fact, sugar can weaken your body's ability to respond to stress and stress triggers. This is terrible news if you already have anxiety because it prevents you from finding and dealing with the reason for your stress. This was shown in a case study of rats, although this has not been done on humans yet.

Sugar increases the risk of getting depressed

In case you did not know, the intense mood swings that come when ingesting too much sugar heighten your risk of developing depression. It may be difficult to avoid sweets when you have a sweet tooth because the food you are taking can serve as a method for self-medication.

However, sugar consumption will eventually become a harmful cycle that only numbs the negative feelings of hopelessness, fatigue, and sadness and worsens them.

The increasing sugar consumption triggers specific chemicals in the brain and leads to imbalances – either their levels are too high or too low. The hormone imbalances increase the risk of developing depression and can even increase the risk of getting mental health disorders in specific individuals. It can also reduce your brainpower and energy, which decreases your ability to learn and retain information.

For instance, a study on several men in 2017 revealed that those who took in high quantities of sugar (more than 65 grams) daily had higher chances of receiving a diagnosis of clinical depression within five years. The problem does not only affect men, as the links between depression and sugar is also very possible in women.

The withdrawal can be similar to panic attacks.

You may hear someone suggesting withdrawing from sugar using the cold turkey method – but that is not a good idea. Like any other addiction, it is better to wean off it slowly – especially when you have a particular history of experiencing panic attacks.

The withdrawal from sugar is just like when a drug addict tries to stop using their drug of choice. It can lead to severe side effects like fatigue, irritability, confusion, and anxiety. The signs of withdrawal have also led scientific and medical researchers to investigate the impact of sugar withdrawal because of its resemblance to drug withdrawal, such as what happens to crystal meth rehab patients.

The research reveals that high amounts of sugar consumption in your diet lead to an increase in psychological sensing of severe withdrawal when you stop taking sugar, especially when it happens suddenly in the case of cold turkey. This makes it a bad idea to follow when you already suffer from a mental illness because it brings on what is similar to a panic attack.

Final thoughts

The link between sugar intake and mental illness is not something you immediately think of, but it is significant because of its far-reaching effects. There are also healthier options you can explore when you are having a stressful day or dealing with the condition.