How Anxiety Can Affect Your Daily Life and What Physical Symptoms You Can Look For?
It is not uncommon for anxiety disorders to affect many people, and the symptoms of anxiety can be complex. Physical symptoms of anxiety can range from distressing to debilitating, and the link between mental and physical health can be profound. It is possible to experience both physical and mental symptoms of anxiety if you suffer from it.
“Physical and mental health are fundamentally connected, both directly and indirectly,” explains clinical psychologist Deborah Offner to SheKnows. “This connection is much deeper and pervasive than most people realize.” We all know that our mental health can affect our mood and emotional health, whether it’s a cancer, the flu, or a poor night’s sleep, but we tend to underestimate how much mental health contributes to physical health.”
Stress and anxiety can compromise the functioning of your immune system, leaving you more prone to infections. Additionally, anxiety and depression can disrupt your sleep patterns or your appetite, making your body more susceptible to illness.
Whenever We Experience Anxiety, Our Bodies Are Essentially Undergoing A Fight Or Flight Response
As a result, the body is either prepared to fight off or run away from a threat, she says. The heart pumps harder to oxygenate the muscles so they can mobilize, and muscles tense in response to acting quickly or protecting against injury. Curtis notes that when the brain thinks there is a threat, it mobilizes the body for self-protection even if there is no real threat. When we experience – or perceive – any threat, the part of the brain tasked with protecting us kicks into gear because the survival part of the brain doesn’t differentiate between psychological threat and physical threat.”
An accurate diagnosis from a mental health professional is essential if your anxiety disorder manifests physically as a result of chronic stress on your nervous system. Symptom(s) in context do not confirm a challenge with anxiety. A single chronic physical condition alone does not confirm it. A person with an anxiety disorder might also experience ongoing feelings of uneasiness about the future, worry about what might happen in the future, and avoid social situations.
“Anxiety can result in long-standing physical health issues without a biological cause,” says Offner.
The following physical symptoms can indicate that your anxiety disorder is also impacting your physical health, although a trained therapist can help you determine whether you’re suffering from a mental health condition. The following six physical symptoms of anxiety may affect your life on a daily basis.
Heart Palpitations Or Feeling Jittery
According to Harvard Health, anxiety and panic commonly lead to jittery and heart palpitations. A stress-busting activity, such as meditation, yoga, tai chi, or deep-breathing, may also help with anxiety-induced palpitations. In addition, progressive muscle relaxation exercises and deep breathing can also help.
An American Family Physician study published in 2012 found that generalized anxiety disorder can be associated with dyspnea, which causes breathing difficulties when you are stressed. Your anxious feelings can worsen if you can’t breathe well, and dyspnea can make you unable to breathe deeply enough to calm down when you’re upset — resulting in a pretty distressing feedback loop. With time and practice, deep-breathing exercises may provide relief from shortness of breath, which is a common symptom of anxiety.
Feeling Dizzy & Headaches
It is clear that stress, trauma, and anxiety can have a significant effect on the central nervous system, says Offner. In medical research, it has been proven that trauma, long-term stress, and anxiety can trigger your brain to release stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol – even when you aren’t actually stressed out. Offner says that this hormonal response may cause chronic headaches and dizziness.
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Digestion Issues & Stomachaches
The effects of anxiety on the gut can be well known if you have ever experienced butterflies in your stomach when you are anxious. Anxiety and Depression Association of America licensed clinical social worker Ken Goodman states that stomach problems are primarily caused by gut-brain connections. During stressful times, you may experience difficulty digesting.
Chronic Pain & Muscle Tension
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association, anxiety disorders are often characterized by muscle tension and chronic pain. Additionally, people with anxiety often suffer from chronic back pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and fibromyalgia. When anxiety is associated with a painful condition, a multipronged approach is usually necessary, which may include medical treatments along with lifestyle adjustments.
Tightness & Pain In The Chest
When anxiety strikes, it is common to feel as if you are having a heart attack, says Curtis. You should seek medical advice whether it is anxiety or a heart attack. The doctor can help clarify whether your symptoms are caused by anxiety or a medical problem. It’s important to see your doctor if you feel pain or tightness in your chest, especially if it’s accompanied by other symptoms. If anxiety is the culprit, it’s likely to worsen without treatment.
“Anxiety isn’t only ‘in the head’ — it’s also in the body,” Curtis warns. When seeking treatment, don’t let doctors dismiss the physical symptoms of anxiety as unreal or “all in your head.” Anxiety is an actual physiological response of the brain to the belief that there is a greater threat than there is. You are not alone. There is help.” Anxiety is a normal, self-protective system that can get carried away, as when, for example, we learn from adverse childhood experiences that there is danger in the world and we need to stay on alert more than we need to.
Several treatment approaches can be helpful if you suffer from anxiety disorder and want to improve both your mental and physical health, according to Offner. In the event that your symptoms are clearly caused by anxiety, and your doctor has ruled out other medical conditions, you have a number of interventions available. In addition to addressing the root causes of your anxiety, traditional talk therapy can provide emotional support as well. Running, yoga, weight lifting, and other exercises that release endorphins and reduce stress may help treat anxiety, as can cognitive-behavioral therapy.
The most important thing is to check in with a therapist if your anxiety doesn’t seem to be improving — especially if you have anxiety that persists after a trauma or major upheaval. Anxiety’s physical and mental symptoms can be overwhelming, but they can be managed successfully over time.
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