Anxiety has an adverse effect on the physical and mental health of a person. These effects can be short term and long term. Anxiety affects both the mind and the body of an anxious person. Most people take anxiety as a disorder which affects mental health only. This is true to some extent. And few people aware of the physical side effects of anxiety. Common physical symptoms of anxiety are digestive issues, increased risk of infections, changes in the function of the Cardiovascular, Urinary, and Respiratory systems.
People occasionally feel anxiety and this is normal. It is a normal part of life. However, how long does anxiety last in you and repeated episodes of sudden and intense anxiety are points to ponder. If feelings of anxiety are out of proportion to the actual danger and last longer. Then this is the time to seek help for a better life.
Common Symptoms of Anxiety
Signs of Anxiety and its symptoms vary from person to person. Every individual reaction to a situation is different. If you find four or more of the following symptoms in you then you must seek help to treat Anxiety.
- Palpitations, Pounding heart, or Rapid Heart Rate
- Sweating may increase
- Trembling, Shaking from anxiety or Muscle Twitching
- Sensations of Shortness of Breath or Smothering
- Feelings of Choking or Panic
- Chest Pain or Discomfort in Breathing
- Nausea, Gastrointestinal Problems, or Abdominal Distress
- Feeling dizzy, Unsteady, Lightheaded, Weakness, Lethargy, or Faint
- A Sensation of Chills or Heat
- Paresthesia (get numb or tingling sensations)
- De-realization (feelings of unreality and detachment) or Depersonalization (being detached from oneself)
- Fear of Losing Control over circumstances and one’s actions or “going crazy”
- Fear of Dying or fear of sudden death
These are symptoms that have similarity with heart disease, thyroid problems, a breathing disorder, and other illnesses. These panic attacks may make people visit emergency rooms.
Because they may believe that they are experiencing life-threatening health issues. Or sometimes people ignore these alarming symptoms and put their lives in danger.
Physical Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety brings about both psychological and physical symptoms. It makes the body ready for fight-or-flight moment. The brain activates body parts like the heart, lungs, and muscles for quick response to a threatening situation or anxiety trigger.
That is why, you can observe faster heartbeat, increased sweating, and muscle tension in an anxious person.
Although there are several types of anxiety disorders, a look at the physical symptoms gives a sense of what is possible.
Long-term effects of anxiety on the body can increase the risk of developing chronic physical conditions. The medical community suspects amygdale responsible for the development of anxiety. Amygdale, part of the brain, controls emotional responses.
When a person becomes anxious then his brain sends signals to the body to prepare it for fight-or flight-response.
The body releases adrenaline and cortisol hormones, also known as stress hormones.
When the level of stress hormones remain increased for a longer time. Then it affects the body in many ways like:
1. Muscle Tension Of The Back And Neck
The muscle tension is associated with normal anxiety. People with GAD; Generalized Anxiety Disorder, complain about unrelenting aches and pains in the shoulder, back, neck, jaw, tense legs or grinding of the teeth.
These muscles tension manifestations do not subside in the absence of a threat. So it causes restlessness. Specific relaxation, medications that promote relaxation, or mindfulness skills are employed to get a better and healthy life.
2. Changes in Respiration and Breathing
During an anxiety attack, a person’s breathing may become rapid. This is called hyperventilation. Hyperventilation is a condition which allows lungs to take in more oxygen.
People feel like they are not getting enough oxygen and gasp for breath.
Hyperventilation accompanied with increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure, sweating and result into a dizziness and severe headache.
3. Breathing and Respiratory Changes
During periods of anxiety, a person’s breathing may become rapid and low which is called hyperventilation.
Hyperventilation is a state which allows the lungs to take in more oxygen and transport it around the body quickly. In this way, extra oxygen helps the body prepare to fight or flee.
Hyperventilation may make people feel like they are not getting enough oxygen and they may gasp for breath. In hyperventilation, people may feel:
- Feeling Faint
These symptoms fit into the description of a panic attack and GAD.
4. Affect on Cardiovascular System
Extreme Anxiety can cause a faster heart rate and increased blood flow throughout the body. This makes flee or flight response easy as increased blood flow brings oxygen and nutrients to the muscles.
Vasoconstriction is a condition in which blood vessels become narrow and it can affect body temperature. People often feel hot flashes due to vasoconstriction.
In response, the body sweats profusely to cool down.
Some studies suggest that long-term anxiety may not be good for the cardiovascular system and heart health and may increase the risk of heart diseases.
5. Digestive System Problems
Cortisol blocks nonessential body processes and adrenalin blocks digestion process in a fight or flight situation. This increase in levels of these hormones results into loss of appetite. And when people are feeling anxious, they may experience constipation, nausea, diarrhea, and a feeling that the stomach is churning.
Digestive system problems can perpetuate worries about the presence of a medical illness and can have a particularly negative impact on day to day functioning.
6. Loss of Control Over Urination
Anxiety can increase the need to urinate. This reaction is more common in people with phobias or phobic disorder.
7. Insomnia and Feeling of Being Tired
Chronic worry leads to insomnia. It disturbs the Anxious person either remain restless or stays asleep. And when people cannot have proper sleep then they will be tired. This will have a negative effect on physical and psychological well being of a person.
Prevalence of anxiety is high in the US. Physical symptoms are considered as a manifestation of chronic anxiety. It is very important that a medical and mental health provider evaluate the physical symptoms of anxiety carefully.
They will evaluate the physical symptoms. They will check for any underlying medical conditions that may trigger the anxiety.
Long-term anxiety can be very distressing. It may increase the risk of physical illnesses and other mental health conditions, such as depression.
Fortunately, anxiety is treatable. Yes! you can enjoy a good quality of life with the help of psychological and medical intervention.