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Can Anxiety Cause Physical Pain

Why Does Stress And Anxiety Cause Joint Pain

Can Stress And Anxiety Cause Physical Pain? | Neuroscience Of The Mind Body Connection

Life is full of stressful situations. You may feel stress over meeting a deadline, managing finances, or even something as simple as getting the kids out the door in the mornings .

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Seven out of ten adults in the United States say they experience stress or anxiety daily, and most say it interferes at least moderately with their lives.

Stress has become such a part of daily life that many people dont realize its a problem until symptoms become unbearable, and sometimes, irreversible.

Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety Because Its Not All Mental

Youre probably familiar with some of the physical symptoms of anxietyyouve felt your heart race before a first date or gotten a case of the nervous sweats. But you might be less familiar with how anxiety manifests physically in an anxiety disorder, and not just day-to-day anxiousness. Which, understandable. When it comes to anxiety disorders, we tend to focus less on the physical and more on mental overwhelming worry and fear.

All told, its important to recognize these physical symptoms for what they are because if you dont know what youre dealing with, it is difficult to seek out the treatment you need to feel better.

Chronic Pain Can Be Caused By Trauma And Stress

Studies have shown that chronic pain might not only be caused by physical injury but also by stress and emotional issues. In particular, people who have experienced trauma and suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder are often at a higher risk to develop chronic pain.

Chronic pain is defined as prolonged physical pain that lasts for longer than the natural healing process should allow. This pain might stem from injuries, inflammation, or neuralgias and neuropathies , but some people suffer in the absence of any of these conditions.

Chronic pain can debilitate one’s ability to move with ease and hinder their normal functioning. The search for relief can lead to pain medication addictions, which compound the problem. Chronic pain is also often accompanied by feelings of hopelessness, depression, and anxiety.

Many people are already familiar with the fact that emotional stress can lead to stomachaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and headaches, but might not know that it can also cause other physical complaints and even chronic pain. One logical reason for this: Studies have found that the more anxious and stressed people are, the more tense and constricted their muscles are, causing the muscles to become fatigued and inefficient over time.

Experts have noticed that experiencing a traumatic event can have an impact on the development of pain. In fact, approximately 15 to 30 percent of patients with chronic pain also have PTSD.

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Achieving Remission In Patients With Physical Symptoms

Treating both the emotion and the physical symptoms associated with depression together is an important part of achieving remission. Unlike selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as sertraline and paroxetine, the dual-action antidepressants venlafaxine and duloxetine inhibit the reuptake of both serotonin and norepinephrine. This dual action gives them a robust efficacy in combating depression and preventing the persistence of symptoms, which increases the likelihood of achieving remission. Numerous reports have indicated that therapeutic agents that act on multiple neurotransmitters are associated with higher rates of remission than are single agents. The selection of therapeutic agents proven to effectively promote both an elimination of a broad spectrum of symptoms and a return to full social functioning is important to the treatment of depression.

Because a majority of patients with depression initially seek treatment for the physical symptoms of depression rather than for their emotional symptoms, physicians are often aware of patients’ physical symptoms when treatment commences. Primary care physicians may want to consider using dual-action antidepressants as a first line-treatment in depressed patients who present with physical symptoms.

What Causes The Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety

Exploring the Possible Physical Effects of Stress

Whether youre experiencing occasional anxiety or a diagnosable anxiety disorder, anxiety can manifest in the body in different ways. By releasing stress hormones, anxiety can affect almost every system of the body. But what causes physical symptoms?

The bodys fight-or-flight response is responsible for the physical symptoms of anxiety. Your fight-or-flight response is supposed to help you survive an immediate threat by escaping or fighting it off. If you have anxiety, your fear and worry trigger the fight-or-flight response, activating your sympathetic nervous system, which controls involuntary breathing and heart rate. This activation leads the body to release stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, contributing to anxietys physical symptoms.

Anxiety can manifest in the following ways:

Recommended Reading: How To Deal With Anxiety And Obsessive Thoughts

Does That Mean Physical And Mental Pain Are Processed The Same Way

No, its more complicated than that and lots of research is still needed, said Dr. T.H. Eric Bui of the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders and Complicated Grief Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. What we do know, he said, is that brain regions that process emotional and physical pain overlap.

In another example of how mysteriously intertwined the two types of pain can be can be, he noted that acetaminophen had been shown to decrease the emotional pain that comes with rejection.

If Anxiety Causes Pain Does That Mean The Pain Is All In Your Head

Of course not. Psychosocial factors refers to the dizzying array of stresses in our lives, all the possible reasons we get anxious, which can also independently lead to pain in many ways .

So, is that just an elaborate way of saying the pain is all in your head? No that phrase implies mental illness or faking it. What were talking about here is about stress/anxiety creating fertile ground for a crop of chronic pain. This may occur in so many ways that its impossible to say exactly how it happens, just like we cant possibly know which climate factors lead to a specific storm.

Psychosocial factors in pain are a completely different thing from all in your head.

And yet, sadly, some health care professionals may not understand this, and some of them may equate psychosocial factors with mental illness and malingering all the same thing in their heads. We know many healthcare professionals will take pain less seriously if theres no obvious biological source of pain to treat, even when there is evidence of serious psychosocial factors.40 For instance, physiotherapists may stigmatize psychosocial factors in back pain, feel unprepared to deal with psychosocial factors, and prefer to grapple with the more mechanical aspects of back pain.41

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When To See A Doctor

If anxiety-related nausea is interfering with your quality of life and you cant manage it on your own, its time to see your doctor. If its not due to a medical condition, ask for a referral to a mental health professional.

Everyone experiences stress and anxiety at some point. There are steps you can take to lower stress and deal with occasional bouts of nausea.

There is help. Anxiety, nausea, and anxiety disorders can be identified and effectively managed.

What To Do For Pain Between Shoulder Blades: 8 Treatments

Doctor explains: Surprising physical symptoms of anxiety and depression

There are numerous ways to treat pain between shoulder blades. These range from inexpensive at-home solutions to invasive treatments that require professional intervention. You should always talk with a doctor before starting any kind of treatment plan.

These are some of the more common treatments for upper back pain and shoulder blade pain that your doctor may recommend, or that you may wish to bring up to your doctor at your next appointment.

Above all, remember to be patient with yourself. Depending on the severity of your pain, it can take weeks or months for you to fully heal. Dealing with pain is tough, so dont push yourself too hard, and ask for help and support when you need it.

Read Also: How To Know If You Are Having An Anxiety Attack

Treatment Options For Anxiety

Whether youre experiencing occasional anxiety or frequent panic attacks, mental health treatment can help. Although anxiety disorders are highly treatable, only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Over time, chronic anxiety can have a severe impact on your physical health. But even if anxiety symptoms dont interfere with daily activities, it never hurts to check in with your therapist or healthcare provider.

The best course of treatment will depend on your specific anxiety symptoms, but approaches to treatment include:

The Science Of Blowing Off Steam: Why Exercising Is Helpful For Stress

Exercising for stress control is an option that isnt fully satisfying to many people, and often awkward for people in pain. But its still one of the most accessible and effective options, and it is firmly grounded in biology and science. Exercise is startlingly good medicine.52 Anything that can ward off dementia53 or actually help your brain recover from injury54 is probably neurologically relevant to any mood disorder as well. Which is certainly what the data suggests so far.55

But theres a more specific and fascinating reason that exercise is helpful for anxiety, which is well worth understanding:

Exercise simulates what stress is trying to prepare us for. More exactly, exercise simulates a reaction to a stressful emergency which then also triggers the relaxation and recovery mode that follows. Robert Sapolsky:

The stress-response is about preparing your body for an explosive burst of energy consumption right now psychological stress is about doing all the same things to your body for no physical reason whatsoever. Exercise finally provides your body with the outlet that it was preparing for.

Why Zebras Dont Get Ulcers, by Robert M Sapolsky, 255

This is why exercise is an effective outlet for frustration, which is well-known to measurably reduce the stress-response.

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The Connection Of The Mind And Body With Stress

You may be having regular headaches these days, and in recent times, your neck has also been feeling tight with severe pain, then it becomes necessary to visit the doctor.

However, did you know that it might happen that the doctor will not see anything physically wrong, and he might even ask, What is happening in your life these days? You can tell him that things are quite intense these days.

You are not just experiencing multiple deadlines at work, but you may also be having some volunteering activities and also taking care of your parents/kids, who are not well.

Then the doctor will indeed suggest you gently that the main reasons for severe headache and pain in the neck are the hectic schedule and feelings of depression related to your parents/kids well-being.

Also, based on the results of the multiple studies conducted in recent years, it is clear that depression, stress, panic attacks, anxiety and emotional events can cause some of the severe physical symptoms associated with stress.

Tip: There is a difference of effectiveness between Alpha-Stim and TENS for treating pain, anxiety, depression and insomnia.

Let find out what are the common physical symptoms associated with stress.

How Do Thoughts And Emotions Impact Physical Health

Can Stress And Anxiety Cause Physical Pain?

Stress, anxiety, and other negative emotions producehigh amounts of the hormone cortisol. This chemical alters your immune system, suppresses digestion, affects your reproductive system, and impairs the growth process. These bodily functions are less important when the body enters survival mode, which is what happens with an overproduction of cortisol.

Adrenaline is another fight-or-flight hormone that your body generates when put in stressful or high-pressure situations. Normally, adrenaline levels drop when the perceived threat passes, returning your heart rate and blood pressure to baseline levels. However, if you have constant negative thoughts and emotions, adrenaline levels may remain high and adversely affect your health.

Read Also: How To Relieve Fear And Anxiety

Fatigue Or Consistent Lower Energy Levels

Fatigue is a common symptom of depression. Occasionally we all experience lower energy levels and can feel sluggish in the morning, hoping to stay in bed and watch TV instead of going to work.

While we often believe exhaustion stems from stress, depression can also cause fatigue. However, unlike everyday fatigue, depression-related fatigue can also cause concentration problems, feelings of irritability, and apathy.

Dr. Maurizio Fava , Director of the Clinical Research Program at Bostons Massachusetts General Hospital, points out that depressed individuals often experience nonrestorative sleep, meaning that they feel sluggish even after getting a full night of rest.

However, because many physical illnesses, like infections and viruses, can also cause fatigue, it can be challenging to discern whether or not the exhaustion is related to depression.

One way to tell: While everyday fatigue is a sign of this mental illness, other symptoms like sadness, feeling hopeless, and anhedonia may also be present when you are depressed.

Physical Symptoms And Outcome Measures

In addition to choosing the most appropriate pharmacotherapeutic approach to treating the symptoms of depression, clinical management of depression should include the screening and monitoring of all symptom domains. All symptoms, including physical ones, must be measured in order to be treated fully. The symptoms still present in incomplete remission are important markers of vulnerability to relapse, and if all types of symptoms are not included in assessments, physicians cannot fully assess the treatment response and follow up on unresolved symptoms. Physicians and patients need to become aware of the broad spectrum of symptoms in depression in order to evaluate treatment effectiveness.

Reliable and effective assessment of Axis I disorders often includes utilization of a variety of rating scales used for both diagnostic purposes and follow-up evaluation. Recently there has been a call for including on rating scales all the symptom domains and social functioning/quality of life measures in the requirements for remission, but physicians may not be aware that there are already numerous standardized scales that measure these aspects of depression.

Recommended Reading: Is Depression And Anxiety Hereditary

Can Anxiety Cause Bone Pain

The symptoms of anxiety can be debilitating, and this is especially true when the symptoms show up in the body. Research has linked pain symptoms with general anxiety disorder. Individuals with anxiety may experience soreness, muscle tension, and headaches. However, those with anxiety may also experience chronic conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgia, which can lead to bone and joint pain.

While the correlation between these conditions isnt always clear, there are a few reasons why anxiety and chronic pain appear together. This may be because anxiety makes people more in tune with their pain or increases pain sensations. Brain chemistry may also play a role. The area of the brain that creates pain, as well as the neurotransmitters norepinephrine and serotonin, also contribute to mental health conditions like depression and anxiety.

If you are experiencing pain along with your anxiety, its important to discuss your symptoms with a mental health professional. They can work with you to identify and manage these symptoms in your daily life. Treatments like cognitive-behavioral therapy , medications, relaxation methods, and lifestyle changes can be helpful in easing pain connected to a mental health condition.

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