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What Does Anxiety Do To Your Body

You Actually Might Not Be Having An Anxiety Attack

How stress affects your body – Sharon Horesh Bergquist

It’s crucial to remember that just as anxiety attacks can mimic other medical conditions, other medical conditions can mimic anxiety attacks. As Michael J Formica, MS, MA, EdM explains in Psychology Today, there are a variety of un-psychiatric illnesses that share symptoms with anxiety and panic disorder. One of these is hyperthyroidism, which can present itself in the form of “heart palpitations, breathlessness and trembling hands,” as well as difficulty concentrating and extreme fatigue.

The answer, of course, is to rule out the possibility that you have an underlying condition that may be causing your distress. 300,000 people are diagnosed with hyperthyroidism annually, and women are more likely to develop the condition than men. Diabetes can also cause extreme anxiousness, and seeking treatment for it can therefore alleviate many anxiety-related symptoms. Having simple blood work done to test for a range of maladies is advisable, if only to rule out other health concerns.

The Difference Between Normal Worry And Gad

Worries, doubts, and fears are a normal part of life. Its natural to be anxious about an upcoming test or to worry about your finances after being hit by unexpected bills. The difference between normal worrying and generalized anxiety disorder is that the worrying involved in GAD is:

  • Excessive.
Normal Worry vs. Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Normal Worry:
Your worrying doesnt get in the way of your daily activities and responsibilities.Your worrying significantly disrupts your job, activities, or social life.
Youre able to control your worrying.Your worrying is uncontrollable.
Your worries, while unpleasant, dont cause significant distress.Your worries are extremely upsetting and stressful.
Your worries are limited to a specific, small number of realistic concerns.You worry about all sorts of things, and tend to expect the worst.
Your bouts of worrying last for only a short time period.Youve been worrying almost every day for at least six months.

Heres How And When To Get Professional Help

Now for a bright side: Its totally possible to treat anxiety and panic attacks. Therapy is often a crucial part of treatment, especially methods like cognitive behavioral therapy, to help you retrain your brains anxious thoughts. Medications like antianxiety drugs may help too, as can lifestyle changes, including joining a support group or picking up some stress-management techniques. The best course of treatment is different for everyone and will depend on your specific symptoms. For many people, a blend of techniques will work best.

Speaking of professional help, you might find yourself wondering when to know its time to seek some for your physical symptoms of anxiety. Honestly, theres no clear-cut answer, but a good rule of thumb is if these symptoms are getting in the way of your life, you might want to consider seeing someone. Even if they dont feel super disruptive, it cant hurt to check with your doctor or make an appointment with a therapist. Because, hey, you could always feel better.

If youre feeling ready to take a step toward professional help, this guide to finding an affordable therapist is a solid place to start.

Also Check: Does Seeing A Therapist Help With Anxiety

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.

Let Us Help Manage & Treat Your Anxiety

Stress Does Affect Your Body

Here at StoneRidge Centers, we combine brain science with compassionate care. We know just how taxing anxiety can be on your brain. But we also know that with treatment and support, you can learn to manage anxiety. We created our mental health treatment program for that very reason.

Anxiety doesnt have to take over your life. You dont have to live in fear of the world or constantly worry about potential dangers. We can customize our comprehensive program to meet your needs. Contact us today at 928-583-7799 for a free and confidential conversation about managing your anxiety in a healthy way.

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Anxiety Caused By Lifestyle Habits

Never underestimate the effect your lifestyle can have on your anxiety levels. For example, some research has shown that those that do not exercise are more prone to developing anxiety, because their body has unused energy, and because they start producing less stress-coping hormones.

Similarly, although diet does not traditionally cause significant anxiety, it can still play a role. Caffeine, for example, can exacerbate mild anxiety symptoms. Unhealthy foods can cause you to feel unhealthy, which in turn causes stress that leads to anxiety. Drug use is frequently a cause of anxiety.

This is why even with therapy and medicine, a change to lifestyle habits is often necessary.

For more information, consider the following topics to read:

  • Anxiety and Television
  • Anxiety and Dehydration

Youre Short Of Breath

Your blood circulates oxygen around your body. When your stress response boosts how quickly youre sending blood around your bodythanks to your heart racingyour breathing might increase to provide you with more oxygen.

If you breathe too quickly , you can actually enhance a lot of the physical anxiety symptoms on this list because your oxygencarbon dioxide balance gets out of whack, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

Thats why we often talk about belly breathing, or diaphragmatic breathing, says Dr. Potter. This is essentially breathing slowly and deeply by really using your diaphragm. By slowing down how quickly youre breathing, you have more of a chance to get the oxygen you need, Dr. Potter explains.

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The Physical Side Of Anxiety

The brain is a powerful organ. So much that the anxiety, the depression, and the fear can turn mental fears into actual physical pains.

Most people actually experience anxiety as a physical problem, said Jason Conover, social worker for Intermountain Healthcares Utah Valley Hospital. It often doesnt get recognized because the physical symptoms are so apparent and quite troubling that they might think they are experiencing something else for instance, a heart attack.

Anxiety builds tension throughout the body. Conover said in the brain can react to thoughts of fear and turn to the muscles to brace for a moment that is not happening. Much like if you were about to get in an accident or protecting your body to get punched. The action never happens but chemically you just experienced it just from a random fear thought that crept in.

Treating anxiety is important for better mental health and physical health as well. Inflammation builds up from the stress, and inflammation is a culprit in numerous chronic conditions such as heart and gastrointestinal conditions.

Here are several ways that anxiety manifests in physical problems.

Breathing Due to the tension, your breathing can change, Conover said. Breathing can become shorter, shallower, or even holding your breath too long. The lungs do not fully exhale due to the tension. Relaxation and breathing techniques can help.

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Seek Help

Recognizing The Disorder In Others

What Does Stress Do To Your Body?

Jennifer Stevens, PhD

How do I recognize if someone close to me is having trouble with anxiety?

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder in the U.S., affecting more than 18% of the population. They are even more common among children, affecting an estimated 25% of children between the ages of 13 and 18. The most common anxiety disorders are Specific Phobias, affecting 8.7% of the population, and Social Anxiety, affecting 6.8% of the population.

You likely know someone with an anxiety disorder.

Although there are several different types of anxiety disorders, each with unique features, there are some common symptoms that might be a clue that someone is suffering from an anxiety disorder:

Please note that it is not a good idea to attempt to diagnose or label a friend or family member. Only a mental health professional can diagnose an anxiety disorder, as many disorders have overlapping features, and can go together with other types of mental health difficulties. However, if you notice signs of anxiety, or just feel that something is not quite right with someone that you care about, it’s a good idea to reach out to ask the person how they are feeling. You could start with something neutral and supportive like, “It seems like you haven’t been quite yourself lately. Is there something going on that you want to talk about?”

What can I do to help a family member or a close friend with anxiety?

It may also be helpful to:

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Seek Help If Your Anxiety Or Related Pain Is Uncontrollable

Anxiety may be a natural reaction to threat, but when it simply doesnt go away or turns into an anxiety disorder, it impacts the well-being of our whole body.

If youre struggling with anxiety, reach out for help. Your mind and body will thank you.

Talkspace articles are written by experienced mental health-wellness contributors they are grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

Our goal at Talkspace is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.

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Biological Causes Of Anxiety Disorders

Genetics and biology play a role in the creation of anxiety disorders. Not only does anxiety appear to run in families – if you take two people with similar experiences, one may have an anxiety disorder, one may not, and the only difference between them may be genetic, or at least influenced by the body more than the mind. Biological causes include:

Read Also: Do I Have Social Anxiety Disorder

Stranger Social And Intergroup Anxiety

Humans generally require social acceptance and thus sometimes dread the disapproval of others. Apprehension of being judged by others may cause anxiety in social environments.

Anxiety during social interactions, particularly between strangers, is common among young people. It may persist into adulthood and become social anxiety or social phobia. “Stranger anxiety” in small children is not considered a phobia. In adults, an excessive fear of other people is not a developmentally common stage it is called social anxiety. According to Cutting, social phobics do not fear the crowd but the fact that they may be judged negatively.

Social anxiety varies in degree and severity. For some people, it is characterized by experiencing discomfort or awkwardness during physical social contact , while in other cases it can lead to a fear of interacting with unfamiliar people altogether. Those suffering from this condition may restrict their lifestyles to accommodate the anxiety, minimizing social interaction whenever possible. Social anxiety also forms a core aspect of certain personality disorders, including avoidant personality disorder.

Anxiety Caused By Nothing At All

The Effects of Stress on Your Body

Anxiety is rarely caused by nothing. But the causes of anxiety can be so minute so minor that trying to figure out what caused it may not help. Even those that experienced a trauma they can point to as a cause of their anxiety may have experienced other issues along the way that put them at risk for developing anxiety.

So while environment may have played a role, it is also important to note that finding your anxiety causes may not result in any actionable information.

Understanding the Causes of Anxiety is Part of the Journey

Anxiety disorders are often incredibly complex – much more complex than many people want to give it credit for. It may be hard to figure out the exact cause of your anxiety, and in some cases, there may not be a specific cause to point.

But understanding the potential causes of anxiety are still important. And perhaps even more important is understanding that no matter what caused your anxiety, it can always be treated.

It doesnt matter whether the cause of your anxiety was biological or environmental – anxiety is a treatable condition, and if you make smart decisions you can even cure your anxiety completely, no matter how you were raised or how your body is designed to react.

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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.

Changes In Digestive Function

Cortisol blocks processes that the body considers nonessential in a fight or flight situation.

One of these blocked processes is digestion. Also, adrenaline reduces blood flow and relaxes the stomach muscles.

As a result, a person with anxiety may experience nausea, diarrhea, and a feeling that the stomach is churning. They may also lose their appetite.

suggests that stress and depression are linked to several digestive diseases, including irritable bowel syndrome .

One , of outpatients at a gastroenterology clinic in Mumbai, reported that 3040 percent of participants with IBS also had anxiety or depression.

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So Whats The Deal Why Do We Get Anxious

Believe it or not, everyone needs a little bit of anxiety in their life. It keeps us on our toes and actually comes in handy when we are in serious or life threatening situations. Think about how it might feel to be in a burning building, or you are at the beach and a wave pulls you under. In moments like this, our body fills with adrenalin and our brains urge us to act.

According to Harvard Health Publishing, anxiety is the natural reaction to stress that arises in the amygdala, a region of our brains that is said to govern our more intense emotional responses. The amygdala carries electrical impulses to the sympathetic nervous system, elevating heart rates and breathing, tensing our muscles, and altering blood flow from our abdominal organs to the brain.

For short term situations, this can be highly effective in confronting an immediate crisis. At healthy levels, it helps us stay alert and aware. However, for those who experience these feelings more often than not, it can be debilitating and can hurt our relationships, our work life, schooling, and our health.

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