3 eggs sitting in a box. One has a anxious expression.

The Surprising Link: Hypermobility and Anxiety Unveiled

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Hypermobility and anxiety are two conditions that might seem unrelated at first glance – a bit like hypermobility and ADHD. After all, hypermobility refers to the ability of joints to move beyond the normal range. Meanwhile, anxiety is a mental health disorder characterized by excessive worry and fear. 

However, recent research has shed light on a surprising connection between the two. Studies have suggested that individuals with hypermobility may be more prone to anxious behaviors.

Is there a link between hypermobility and anxiety?

Yes, there is a growing body of research that suggests there is a link between hypermobility and anxiety. In fact, one study found that 42.5% of adults with EDS also have a psychiatric disorder. Anxiety and depression were the most common disorders reported.

It’s not just adults with hypermobility that are more likely to be anxious either. A recent study from the University of Sussex found that adolescents with hypermobility were more likely to have anxiety and depression than their peers who weren’t hypermobile. 

Can anxiety make hypermobility worse?

While anxiety alone does not directly cause hypermobility, it can make the symptoms and pain connected to it worse.

Anxiety often makes us tense our muscles and raises our stress levels. This then puts additional strain on hypermobile joints. Individuals with anxiety may also excessively move or overexert themselves. The problem with this is that it can worsen joint instability and lead to increased pain and discomfort.

Can hypermobility make anxiety worse?

On the other hand, hypermobility itself can contribute to the development or worsening of anxiety symptoms. Living with a chronic condition like hypermobility syndrome is physically challenging and emotionally draining. The uncertainty and limitations imposed by joint instability can lead to feelings of frustration, helplessness, and anxiety. 

When you live with hypermobility, you’re also at risk of chronic pain and repeated injuries, such as fractures and subluxations. Not knowing when an injury will occur can add to anxiety and affect your quality of life.

Why does hypermobility cause anxiety?

There are a number of possible reasons why hypermobility causes anxiety. One possibility is that people with hypermobility are more sensitive to pain and other bodily sensations. This can lead to increased anxiety, as people may worry about their health or become hyper-focused on their symptoms.

Another possibility is that people with hypermobility are more likely to experience the physical symptoms of being anxious, such as dizziness, chest pain, and shortness of breath. These symptoms can be very distressing and can lead to further anxiety.

The impact of hypermobility on daily activities and social interactions can also contribute to anxiety. Many individuals with hypermobility face challenges in performing certain physical tasks or participating in sports or recreational activities. This can lead to feelings of self-consciousness, social isolation, and heightened anxiety in social situations.

How to treat anxiety and hypermobility

When it comes to managing anxiety and hypermobility, a multidisciplinary approach is often recommended. Here are some strategies that can help:

  1. Physical therapy – Working with a physical therapist who specializes in hypermobility can be beneficial. They can provide exercises and techniques to strengthen muscles, improve joint stability, and reduce pain. This can help alleviate some of the physical symptoms associated with hypermobility and potentially reduce anxiety.
  1. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) – CBT is a type of therapy that focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. It can be effective in managing anxiety by teaching individuals coping strategies and helping them develop a more balanced perspective on their condition.
  1. Medication – In some cases, medication can manage anxiety symptoms. Antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications may be recommended by a healthcare professional, but it’s important to work closely with a qualified healthcare provider to find the right medication and dosage for each individual’s needs.
  1. Stress management techniques – Learning and practicing stress management techniques such as deep breathing exercises, mindfulness, and relaxation techniques can reduce anxiety symptoms. These techniques can help individuals better manage stress and cope with the challenges of living with hypermobility.
  1. Support groups and counseling – Connecting with others who have similar experiences can provide a sense of understanding and support. Support groups or individual counseling sessions give a safe space to share concerns, learn from others, and develop coping strategies.

So there you have it; hypermobility and anxiety are strongly connected. Although there’s no one reason why hypermobile individuals are more likely to feel anxious, it’s good to know that there’s lots of support and help that can be sought. 

Author

  • Amy

    Amy lives with hypermobility spectrum disorder (HSD). She spent years not knowing what was wrong with her body, before eventually being diagnosed in her 30s. She has two young children - both of whom are hypermobile.