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How Anxiety Affects The Body

Your Sleep Is All Screwed Up

How stress affects your body – Sharon Horesh Bergquist

A person with anxiety might have a tough time falling asleep and/or staying asleep, or might have restless and unsatisfying sleep, according to the NIMH. Elevated levels of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline make it hard to get a good nights sleep, since your buzzing body may not be able to relax enough to rest. The racing thoughts that can come with anxiety are no recipe for great sleep, either.

Its not just that anxiety contributes to sleep problems. Sleep issues such as insomnia can make you more prone to anxiety too, the Mayo Clinic explains. What a great cycle.

Sexuality And Reproductive System

Stress is exhausting for both the body and mind. Its not unusual to lose your desire when youre under constant stress. While short-term stress may cause men to produce more of the male hormone testosterone, this effect doesnt last.

If stress continues for a long time, a mans testosterone levels can begin to drop. This can interfere with sperm production and cause erectile dysfunction or impotence. Chronic stress may also increase risk of infection for male reproductive organs like the prostate and testes.

For women, stress can affect the menstrual cycle. It can lead to irregular, heavier, or more painful periods. Chronic stress can also magnify the physical symptoms of menopause.

Psychological Symptoms Of Gad

GAD can cause a change in your behaviour and the way you think and feel about things, resulting in symptoms such as:

  • restlessness
  • difficulty concentrating
  • irritability

Your symptoms may cause you to withdraw from social contact to avoid feelings of worry and dread.

You may also find going to work difficult and stressful, and may take time off sick. These actions can make you worry even more about yourself and increase your lack of self-esteem.

Recommended Reading: Do I Need To See A Therapist For Anxiety

Major Effects Of Anxiety On The Brain

#1. Anxiety Floods Your Brain with Stress Hormones

  • When you feel anxious, your body goes on alert, prompting your brain to prepare itself for flight or fight mode. In an attempt to help you fight off whatever has made you anxious, your brain floods your central nervous system with adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones tell your body that something scary is about to happen. Their role is to help you cope with danger. In order to do that, they sharpen your senses and make your reflexes faster. In a non-anxious brain, when the danger is gone, the sympathetic part of your nervous system takes over and calms you down. But when you suffer from anxiety, you may not be able to reach that sense of calm. Instead, the rush of stress hormones causes your brain to release even more stress hormones until youre simply overwhelmed.

#2. Anxiety Makes Your Brain Hyperactive to Threats

#3. Anxiety Can Make It Hard for Your Brain to Reason Rationally

#4. Anxiety Can Train Your Brain to Hold Onto Negative Memories

Anxiety And Breathing Difficulties

How Stress Affects The Body

Many people experience breathing problems when feeling anxious. Breathing troubles can range from hyperventilation, or very rapid breathing, to sensations of choking or feeling unable to draw a breath.

These symptoms dont typically persist over time. They generally happen whenever a situation becomes tense or involves some fear or nervousness. Panic attacks often involve choking sensations, and its not uncommon to feel as if you cant breathe. These feelings can be very frightening, and they often worsen anxietys emotional symptoms.

Recommended Reading: What To Take For Anxiety And Depression

Surprising Effects Of Anxiety On The Body

Anxiety and stress can have a profound impact on your physical and emotional health. You may already know that too much stress can cause muscle tension and headaches. Plus, it can increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes.

But there are other ways anxiety impacts your body that arent mentioned quite as often. Wondering whether your symptoms could be attributed to the physical effects of anxiety on the body? Learn about 3 unexpected ways anxiety can impact you.

Anxiety and stress can have a profound impact on your physical and emotional health. You may already know that too much stress can cause muscle tension and headaches. Plus, it can increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes.

But there are other ways anxiety impacts your body that arent mentioned quite as often. Wondering whether your symptoms could be attributed to the physical effects of anxiety on the body? Learn about 3 unexpected ways anxiety can impact you.

How Does Anxiety Influence Your Health

Posted April 30, 2018 by Ingeborg Hrabowy, Ph.D., Clinical Psychologist – Behavioral Health Consultant in Family Medicine

  • Social anxiety, also referred to as social phobia, can have a crippling effect on day-to-day activities. It is usually characterized by a feeling or fear of being judged, rejected or of offending others in social situations.
  • Panic attacks are sudden periods or bursts of intense fear or a feeling of impending doom. These attacks can trigger heart palpitations, sweating, shortness of breath or in severe cases it can feel like a heart attack resulting in visits to the emergency room.
  • GAD, or generalized anxiety disorder, affects roughly 6.8 million Americans every year and is very common. GAD is defined as excessive anxiety for no specific reason often with an inability to stop the worry and can have a huge toll on your life.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs after witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. Symptoms can arise immediately after the event or can take years to manifest themselves.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder can include excessive hand-washing, continuously counting items, endless security checks or repeatedly obsessing and ruminating over certain thoughts. People who suffer from this disorder often are unable to stop themselves from performing routines or rituals or stopping the unwanted thoughts despite their best effort.

How anxiety affects the body

Read Also: What Can I Do To Help My Anxiety

What Is Anxiety Exactly

Anxiety is an umbrella term for a range of uncomfortable feelings like fear, worry, and stress. It has both a colloquial and clinical meaning. Sometimes people describe garden-variety episodes of stress as anxiety, but theyre able to cope with and move on from this anxiousness without the stress being overwhelming. Other times, though, anxiety is overwhelming, which is when we get into diagnosable-mental-health-condition territory.

There are various anxiety disorders that can really disrupt a persons life. One is generalized anxiety disorder, which happens when you experience immense, disproportionate fear about any number of circumstances and events, according to the Mayo Clinic. Another is social anxiety disorder, which happens when social interactions trigger your feelings of worry. Yet another anxiety disorder youve likely heard of is panic disorder, when a person has repeated panic attacks involving uncontrollable terror. These bouts of fear are so forceful that people with panic disorder often worry about having panic attacks in the future and avoid anything they think might set one off.

Although the triggers for various anxiety disorders can differ, one major thing they have in common is the potential to cause physical symptoms of anxiety.

Anxiety And Brain Activation

How Stress Affects Your Body and Mind

There are two different parts to an anxiety disorder, and someone with anxiety may suffer from one or both. The first part is mental verbal worries, nervous thoughts, etc. The second part of anxiety is physical. For example, a racing heartbeat, panic attacks, lightheadedness, and other physical symptoms.

It’s possible to experience physical symptoms with less worry, and it’s possible to worry often without many physical symptoms. Researchers also found that both of these excited different parts of the brain. Those with worried thoughts showed more left brain activity when nervous. Those with physical symptoms experienced more right brain activity.

Another study looked at the way that those with a spider phobia reacted to the belief that they were going to encounter a spider. They found that those with the phobia had their dorsal anterior cingulate cortex , insula, and thalamus become more active than those without a phobia.

Yet another study at the University of Wisconsin Madison found that those with generalized anxiety disorder appeared to have a weaker connection between the white matter area of the brain and the prefrontal and anterior cortex. This was compared to those without generalized anxiety disorder and the results appeared to be significant.

These are just some of the ways that anxiety can activate the brain.

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Excretory And Digestive Systems

Anxiety also affects your excretory and digestive systems. You may have stomachaches, nausea, diarrhea, and other digestive issues. Loss of appetite can also occur.

There may be a connection between anxiety disorders and the development of irritable bowel syndrome after a bowel infection. IBS can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.

What Are The Different Types Of Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are of the following types:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder : It is a long-term disorder that makes a person anxious over several situations and issues. People with GAD are anxious most of the time and seldom remember when they last felt relaxed.
  • Panic disorder: It manifests as sudden, intense fear associated with profuse sweating, restlessness, chest pain and a racing or pounding heartbeat often mimicking a heart attack.
  • Social phobia or social anxiety: It involves a feeling of overwhelming worry and self-consciousness about everyday social situations. A typical variant is selective mutism which may be often seen in kids who are confident in front of their family but may not speak at all in school or other places.
  • : It happens when a loved one goes away. It is often seen in small kids who feel scared or anxious when a loved one leaves. It can also affect adults who typically worry that something bad may happen to their loved ones when they are out of sight.
  • Medication-induced anxiety disorder: Certain medications or drug abuse may cause anxiety during their use or withdrawal phase.
  • Certain phobias such as agoraphobia , acrophobia .

Read Also: Do I Have High Functioning Anxiety

Anxiety And Chronic Pain

Theres plenty of scientific evidence supporting the connection between chronic pain and anxiety.

Results of one study from 2013 found that, among 250 people living with chronic pain, 45 percent of them also had symptoms of at least one type of anxiety. The chronic pain patients who also had anxiety tended to experience greater pain and lower quality of life than those who did not have anxiety symptoms.

People with both chronic pain and anxiety often have a lower tolerance for pain and become trapped in a distressing cycle of symptoms.

People constantly in pain may:

  • Feel distressed and worried about experiencing more pain
  • Avoid activities that could relieve anxiety symptoms because pain makes it difficult to move around.
  • Become anxious about their ability to take care of responsibilities due to pain

Long-term chronic pain has also been linked to depression. Its not uncommon for people living with anxiety and chronic pain to also have symptoms of depression.

How Common Are Anxiety And Depression

How Stress Harm Your Health: Effects on Body and Behavior

Anxiety disorders affect nearly 20 percent of American adults. That means millions are beset by an overabundance of the fight-or-flight response that primes the body for action. When youre stressed, the brain responds by prompting the release of cortisol, natures built-in alarm system. It evolved to help animals facing physical threats by increasing respiration, raising the heart rate and redirecting blood flow from abdominal organs to muscles that assist in confronting or escaping danger.

These protective actions stem from the neurotransmitters epinephrine and norepinephrine, which stimulate the sympathetic nervous system and put the body on high alert. But when they are invoked too often and indiscriminately, the chronic overstimulation can result in all manner of physical ills, including digestive symptoms like indigestion, cramps, diarrhea or constipation, and an increased risk of heart attack or stroke.

Depression, while less common than chronic anxiety, can have even more devastating effects on physical health. While its normal to feel depressed from time to time, more than 6 percent of adults have such persistent feelings of depression that it disrupts personal relationships, interferes with work and play, and impairs their ability to cope with the challenges of daily life. Persistent depression can also exacerbate a persons perception of pain and increase their chances of developing chronic pain.

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What Is Anxiety Nausea

Anxiety is a response to stress and it can cause a variety of psychological and physical symptoms. When you feel overly anxious, you might notice that your heart rate speeds up and your breathing rate increases. And you might experience a bout of nausea.

During a moment of high anxiety, you might feel just a bit queasy. Its that butterflies in your stomach feeling you might have before giving a public presentation or going on a job interview. This kind of nausea may pass in short order.

But sometimes, anxiety-related nausea can make you totally sick to your stomach. Your stomach churns so much that you have to make a dash for the bathroom. You may even reach the point of dry heaving or vomiting.

Everyone feels anxiety occasionally. Its not abnormal and not necessarily a bad thing. But it can be problematic if you frequently feel anxiousness accompanied by nausea.

Read on as we explore anxiety-related nausea, ways to manage it, and when its time to see a doctor.

Anxiety In The Mind And Body

– With all the fuss and buzz that is happening in the Philippines and around the world, most of the population may be frightened for their lives and some can be even traumatized. Drug trafficking, extrajudicial killings, war on drugs, typhoons, terrorism, and other political issues are only some of the concerns that many would even dream at night. Every day, we fight the demons within us emotions and our responses, our fight or flight reaction anxiety, in short. This is good to protect us from harm, but in the absence of the need to fight or flee, this may mean something bad something that is disorderly in nature.

Anxiety per se is your response to stress that has both psychological and physical impact to the body. Anxiety disorders, on the other hand, put you to a greater risk of developing a number of chronic diseases. They may also lead to severe symptoms and will increase the risk of death. Anxiety disorders are not loners they affect both emotions and physical functioning of the human body, thus, when combined with other chronic diseases, everything will be worse.

In Gastrointestinal Disorders

In Chronic Respiratory Disorders

In Heart Diseases

Studies have shown that among men and women with recognized heart diseases who also suffer from anxiety disorders, their chances to have heart attack is twice as those with no history of anxiety disorders.

Also Check: What Does Anxiety Look Like In A Child

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