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Is Anxiety All In Your Head

Neuroendocrine And Neurotransmitter Signaling In Panic Disorder

Is Anxiety All in Your Head, Or Is It In Your Body?

Amino acid neurotransmitters

Decreased inhibitory signaling has been hypothesized to play an important pathophysiological role in PD. In drug-free patients who had PD, increased benzodiazepine binding in the temporal cortex and right lateral frontal gyrus but decreased binding in the left hippocampus, has been observed. In patients who have PD and comorbid MDD treated with antidepressant medications, benzodiazepine binding was decreased in the lateral temporal lobes, left medial inferior temporal lobe, and bilateral OFC. Binding in the insular cortex bilaterally was negatively correlated with panic severity and with comorbid depression.

Magnetic resonance spectroscopy has demonstrated decreased GABA concentrations in the occipital cortex, ACC, and basal ganglia in patients who have PD compared with control subjects. Although there is no evidence for differences in plasma or cerebrospinal fluid GABA concentrations in patients who have PD, low baseline CSF GABA concentrations did correlate with a poor therapeutic response to the triazolobenzodiazepine alprazolam or the tricyclic antidepressant imipramine. Interestingly, patients who have PD and who have a family history of mood and anxiety disorders exhibit decreased cortical GABA concentrations .

Monoamines

Neuropeptides

Corticotropin-releasing factor and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis

Getting Immediate Relief For Your Tension Headaches

You can often feel a tension headache starting to build up in your head. You can feel the first signs of tension building up in the muscles of your head. When you sense that first sign of tension, slow down and stop whatever it is you are doing for a moment. Pay attention to the tension and accept it. This in and of itself may short circuit and stop the tension.

Other things that might help stop the buildup of tension are:

  • Take a walk
  • Take a moment and slow down whatever it is you are doing.
  • Take some deep breaths to release your tension.
  • Massage the muscles in your head and neck to release the tension. This can be very effective.

If none of these measures work, you might want to take an over the counter pain killer that you know and that works well for you. Experiment with your medication, and figure out the smallest does that will stop your headache effectively.

But the most important thing to do is to take measure that will help you prevent the occurrence of tension headaches in the future.

Effects Of Anxiety On Your Mind

These can include:

  • feeling tense, nervous or unable to relax
  • having a sense of dread, or fearing the worst
  • feeling like the world is speeding up or slowing down
  • feeling like other people can see you’re anxious and are looking at you
  • feeling like you can’t stop worrying, or that bad things will happen if you stop worrying
  • worrying about anxiety itself, for example worrying about when panic attacks might happen
  • wanting lots of reassurance from other people or worrying that people are angry or upset with you
  • worrying that you’re losing touch with reality
  • low mood and depression
  • rumination thinking a lot about bad experiences, or thinking over a situation again and again
  • depersonalisation a type of dissociation where you feel disconnected from your mind or body, or like you are a character that you are watching in a film
  • derealisation another type of dissociation where you feel disconnected from the world around you, or like the world isn’t real
  • worrying a lot about things that might happen in the future you can read more about these sorts of worries on the Anxiety UK website.

“I could feel all these physical symptoms building inside me, literally filling every part of my body until I felt completely light-headed and disembodied.”

Anxiety and physical health problems

Having a physical illness or disability can also make you feel stressed and anxious, so it might sometimes feel like your anxiety problems and physical health problems are part of a vicious circle.

Also Check: How To Get On Anti Anxiety Medication

Why Does Anxiety Cause Physical Symptoms

Whether youre dealing with anxiousness or a diagnosable anxiety disorder, it can manifest in your body in multiple ways. From head to toe, almost every system can be impacted just by nature of your body releasing a lot of stress hormones, Mona Potter, M.D., medical director at McLean Anxiety Mastery Program in Boston, tells SELF. But why does it happen?

Well, you have your fight-or-flight response to thank for your physical anxiety symptoms. Typically, its supposed to help you survive a threat by escaping or fending it off. In way-back-then cave-people days, that threat might have been something along the lines of a lion. If you have anxiety, though, your fear and worry are that threat, prompting your sympathetic nervous system, which controls involuntary processes like your breathing and heart rate, to kick into high gear. This leads your adrenal glands to release hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, according to the Mayo Clinic. This domino effect is behind anxietys physical symptoms.

When a person experiences anxiety, its essentially the fight-or-flight system kicking in and saying, Danger! Neda Gould, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and associate director of the Johns Hopkins Bayview Anxiety Disorders Clinic, tells SELF.

So what are the physical symptoms of anxiety to look out for?

Make Sure That Your Headaches Arent A Sign Of A Serious Illness

Anxiety Quotes

Headaches can be a symptom of stress. Or they may be a sign of a serious physical problem. For example, a headache may be a symptom of a tumor in your brain, or of an infection of your brain or the coverings of your brain. Or of any number of serious health problems.

This means that if you have chronic headaches, the first thing to do is to go see your doctor to make sure that your headaches arent being caused by a physical illness.

You want to be sure to go see your doctor if you have a headache with any of the following qualities:

  • Your headache comes on abruptly and is severe
  • Your headache is accompanied by fever, a stiff neck, confusion, double vision or difficulty in speaking.
  • You have a headache after a head injury.

Your doctor will take a history, do a physical examination and if necessary do blood tests and imaging studies.

If your doctor doesnt find any physical cause for your tension headaches, then you can pretty much assume that they are probably caused by stress and/or anxiety. And then you can treat them accordingly.

You can confirm for yourself that your tension headaches are probably caused by stress and/or anxiety if they have the following qualities:

  • Your headaches tend to occur during periods of feeling stressed/anxious.
  • Your headaches tend to occur along with other symptoms of stress or anxiety.
  • Your headaches tend to come and go depending on your level of anxiety/stress.

Read Also: How Long Can Anxiety Last

How To Stop Feeling Anxious Right Now

While itâs normal to get nervous about an important event or life change, about 40 million Americans live with an anxiety disorder, which is more than the occasional worry or fear. Anxiety disorders can range from a generalized anxiety disorder , which is intense worrying that you canât control, to panic disorder — sudden episodes of fear, along with heart palpitations, trembling, shaking, or sweating.

For those with an anxiety disorder, itâs important to look into strategies that can help manage or reduce anxiety in the long term, like talk therapy or medication. But everyone can benefit from other ways to reduce stress and anxiety with lifestyle changes such as eating a well-balanced diet, limiting alcohol and caffeine, and taking time for yourself.

Plus, there are steps you can take the moment when anxiety starts to take hold. Try these 10 expert-backed suggestions to relax your mind and help you regain control of your thoughts.

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.

Recommended Reading: How To Stop Chronic Anxiety

Anxiety Disorders Just In Your Head

This was her third trip to the Emergency Department in two days. She had been home watching TV when all of a sudden her heart started racing, she felt her face flush, her hands tingle, and it was hard to catch her breath.

She was scared because she felt like she was dying.

She started crying uncontrollably, making it all the more difficult to breathe. She was frustrated with the emergency room staff because they felt a healthy 20-year-old who had a thorough medical workup completed two days before was not having a heart attack but, rather, an anxiety attack.

The above scenario is not an uncommon one, especially the frustration a person may feel if they believe doctors are not taking their condition seriously or saying its all in your head.

In a way, they are not entirely wrong. Anxiety is all in the head. Heres why:

We all experience some anxiety at different periods in time. Its the brains way of getting us ready to face or escape danger, or deal with stressful situations.

For example, anxiety before exams can make one study more and, hence, do well on a test. However, at times, the anxiety can be quite severe or exaggerated in relation to the actual situation. This can lead to intense physical sensations, anxious thoughts, worries and avoidant behaviors that impact ones life.

An example would be skipping school the day of a test because one is so anxious or having a panic attack to the point that one cant take a test.

Youre Sweating Up A Storm

“It’s All In Your Head” – The Science Of Anxiety (Knowledge Box #5)

If youre already grappling with anxiety, the thought of sweating profusely may just make it worse. Who wants to worry about pit stains or wiping their palms when theyre already totally anxious? Unfortunately, sweating is a common side effect of anxiety disorders, according to the NIMH.

When your sympathetic nervous system gets activated, it can influence the sweat glands basically all over your body. You have two kinds, according to the Mayo Clinic: eccrine, which cover most of your skin, and apocrine, which are only on body parts that have a lot of hair follicles. Both types of sweat glands can cause anxiety-induced perspiration, but its the milky fluid from your apocrine glands in particular that may make it smell bad.

Also Check: How To Get Rid Of Sudden Anxiety

Anxiety Disorders Is It Really All In Your Head

This was her third trip to the emergency room in two days. She had been home watching TV, when all of a sudden, her heart started racing, she felt her face flush, her hands tingle and it was hard to catch her breath. She was scared, because she felt like she was dying. She started crying uncontrollably, making it all the more difficult to breathe. She was frustrated with the emergency room, because they felt as a healthy 20-year-old who had a thorough medical work-up completed two days ago, she isnt having a heart attack, but, rather, an anxiety attack.

The above scenario is not an uncommon one, especially the frustration where a person may feel that the doctors are not taking her seriously or telling her its all in her head. In a way, they are not entirely wrong, as it is all in the head. Heres why.

We all experience some anxiety at different periods in time. Its the brains way of getting us ready to face or escape danger, or deal with stressful situations. For example, anxiety before exams can make one study more and, hence, do well on a test. However, at times, the anxiety can be quite severe or exaggerated in relation to the actual situation. This can lead to intense physical sensations, anxious thoughts, worries and avoidant behaviors to the point that they impact ones life. An example would be skipping school the day of a test because one is so anxious or having a panic attack to the point that one cant take a test.

Topics in this Post

Neurotransmitter And Neuroendocrine Signaling In Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

Amino acid neurotransmitters

Glutamate plays a critical role in hippocampal-dependent associative learning and in amygdala-dependent emotional processing in stressful conditions or following stress exposure. Inappropriate glutamate signaling therefore could contribute to the processing distortion experienced by many patients who have PTSD. In support of the glutamate hypothesis of PTSD, the N-methyl-D-aspartic acid receptor antagonist ketamine is well known for its ability to induce dissociative and perceptual distortions, similar to the processing distortion in patients who have PTSD .

Recent research has explored the possible therapeutic potential of glutamatergic targets in PTSD. One such drug is the anticonvulsant topiramate. Topiramate inhibits excitatory transmission at kainate and α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionate receptors and has demonstrated anxiolytic properties at lower doses than required for anticonvulsant effects, suggesting a unique mechanism of action. Open-label studies using topiramate as either adjunctive or monotherapy have demonstrated some efficacy in diminishing nightmares and flashbacks and in improving overall PTSD symptoms.

Monoamines

Neuropeptides

Corticotropin-releasing factor and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis

Don’t Miss: Can Hypnosis Help With Anxiety And Depression

How To Distinguish Between Productive And Unproductive Worrying

If youre focusing on what if scenarios, your worrying is unproductive.

Once youve given up the idea that your worrying somehow helps you, you can start to deal with your worry and anxiety in more productive ways. This may involve challenging irrational worrisome thoughts, learning how to stop worrying, and learning to accept uncertainty in your life.

Treatment For Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Anxiety: Its All in Your Head

If youve given self-help a fair shot, but still cant seem to shake your worries and fears, it may be time to see a mental health professional. But remember that professional treatment doesnt replace self-help. In order to control your GAD symptoms, youll still want to make lifestyle changes and look at the ways you think about worrying

Cognitive-behavioral therapy is one type of therapy that is particularly helpful in the treatment of GAD. CBT examines distortions in our ways of looking at the world and ourselves. Your therapist will help you identify automatic negative thoughts that contribute to your anxiety. For example, if you catastrophizealways imagining the worst possible outcome in any given situationyou might challenge this tendency through questions such as, What is the likelihood that this worst-case scenario will actually come true? and What are some positive outcomes that are more likely to happen?.

The five components of CBT for anxiety are:

Education. CBT involves learning about generalized anxiety disorder. It also teaches you how to distinguish between helpful and unhelpful worry. An increased understanding of your anxiety encourages a more accepting and proactive response to it.

Monitoring. You learn to monitor your anxiety, including what triggers it, the specific things you worry about, and the severity and length of a particular episode. This helps you get perspective, as well as track your progress.

Also Check: What Can I Do To Help My Partner With Anxiety

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