Most people know what anxiety can do to your mental health and a majority of them have experienced some level of anxiety at one point in their life or another. Whether it’s due to some disturbing news you’ve heard on the radio, or it’s because of an interview for that job you’ve wanted for so long, anxiety includes a whole range of disorders that result in fear, worry, and restlessness. However, these disorders don’t limit their effect on your mind and your emotions. Other than causing you mental strain, they can also be manifested physically. Here are some of the physical symptoms of anxiety you should be careful of.
The general physical response to anxiety
A little bit of anxiety isn’t anything to worry about. It’s your brain’s and body’s reaction to something you perceive as dangerous and threatening. Basically, when your brain notices something unknown that could be menacing, it alerts your body, which then reacts both emotionally and physically. You might feel frightened, worried, or tense, while your heartbeat and your breathing become faster, all in order to get more blood into your brain, so that you can respond to a situation that you find alarming in any way. This is something that’s completely normal and it’s actually your body’s own natural defense system. However, when this feeling is persistent and lasts longer than actually necessary, when you can’t control it and when it starts preventing you from doing any of your regular, everyday activities, it may mean that you have an anxiety disorder. With certain disorders, your response to a threat is too extreme, while with others, your brain responds to a non-existing threat. Whichever your anxiety disorder is, its symptoms will be far more than just mental.
Anxiety and the central nervous system
With normal levels of anxiety, your brain releases some stress hormones and chemicals, such as cortisol and adrenaline. The purpose of this is to prepare you for a quick response to some threat. However, when you have a panic disorder and the anxiety persists, these stress hormones are released continually or repeatedly with an elevated frequency. This can cause some serious harm to your physical health. For instance, overexposure to cortisol can lead to weight gain. Also, these chemicals and hormones can lead to some physical symptoms, like dizziness or headaches, or make them more severe and lasting.
Anxiety and the cardiovascular system
The number of hormones your central nervous system forces on your body when you’re anxious can also have a negative effect on your heart. Basically, the receptors found in your heart react to these hormones by increasing your heart rate. This is also a logical-physical response since the faster your heart beats, the more blood it pumps into your muscles and extremities, allowing you to either run away or fight for your life, at least theoretically. The problem is that, when anxiety continues, your body’s response to it does as well. Your racing heart can actually make things worse by adding to your uneasiness and consequently your anxiety, creating a vicious circle with some undesired side effects, such as chest pain, heart palpitation and even elevated blood pressure and heart disease. Furthermore, if you’re already suffering from heart disease, developing an anxiety disorder may lead to more frequent cardiac events.
Anxiety and the respiratory system
Blood circulation is important, since it helps oxygen travel and distributes it to every part of your body. When reacting to something stressful, your heart pumps blood more vigorously and your circulation speeds up, which in return makes you breathe more quickly as well so that you can provide your blood and your body with more oxygen. This can cause some health issues, since breathing too fast or hyperventilating can lead to your oxygen and carbon dioxide levels becoming imbalanced, which then makes some of the physical symptoms of anxiety even worse. This is why, if you’re aware of having an anxiety disorder, you should try some natural remedies to help you contain it, such as hemp oil for anxiety. Also, in case your breathing gets wild like this, you should try belly or diaphragmatic breathing, which means slow and deep breaths controlled by your diaphragm. As soon as your breathing slows down, you start getting the amount of oxygen your body needs for normal function.
Anxiety and tiredness
Weakness and fatigue are some of the most frequent physical symptoms of anxiety, for two reasons. First of all, the persistence of anxiety and the hormones your body releases can keep you alerted for a prolonged period of time, which can be exhausting. Second, when you suffer from anxiety, you may experience trouble falling asleep, and even if you pass that obstacle, you’ll have difficulty staying asleep, or you may sleep restlessly. This happens because high levels of cortisol, adrenalin or any other hormone your body produces in copious amounts when you’re anxious don’t allow your body to relax nearly enough to actually get some quality sleep. Add to this the racing thoughts that often accompany anxiety, and you have a recipe for many sleepless nights. Plus, it can actually go the other way around. Namely, lack of sleep can lead to anxiety, and you fall into yet another vicious circle.
Anxiety and the digestive system
Your digestive system is another thing that can fall under the bad influence of anxiety. When you’re anxious you may reach for too much junk food, or you may lose your appetite altogether. It may also cause diarrhea, nausea, stomachaches, or constipation. Furthermore, there might be some correlation between different anxiety disorders and the appearance of irritable bowel syndrome following a bowel infection. And if anxiety itself doesn’t cause you to vomit, have diarrhea, and be constipated, the irritable bowel syndrome most likely will. The communication between your enteric nervous system and your brain is what regulates your digestion, and when your brain is triggered into anxiety, you can experience some serious issues related to your digestive system.
Anxiety can cause a whole series of problems, some, but not all of which can be mental. Being that there are also many physical manifestations of anxiety, it’s essential to seek help from a therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist, in order to deal with the very root of the issue.