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What Happens When You Have Anxiety

Phobias And Irrational Fears

What happens when you have an anxiety or panic attack

A phobia is an unrealistic or exaggerated fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that in reality presents little to no danger. Common phobias include fear of animals , fear of flying, and fear of needles. In the case of a severe phobia, you might go to extreme lengths to avoid the object of your fear. Unfortunately, avoidance only strengthens the phobia.

What Are Treatments For Anxiety

Once youve been diagnosed with anxiety, you can to explore treatment options with your doctor. For some people, medical treatment isnt necessary. Lifestyle changes may be enough to cope with the symptoms.

In moderate or severe cases, however, treatment can help you overcome the symptoms and lead a more manageable day-to-day life.

Treatment for anxiety falls into two categories: psychotherapy and medication. Meeting with a therapist or psychologist can help you learn tools to use and strategies to cope with anxiety when it occurs.

The Healthline FindCare tool can provide options in your area if you need help finding a mental health specialist.

Medications typically used to treat anxiety include antidepressants and sedatives. They work to balance brain chemistry, prevent episodes of anxiety, and ward off the most severe symptoms of the disorder. Read more about anxiety medicines and the benefits and advantages of each type.

Lifestyle changes can be an effective way to relive some of the stress and anxiety you may cope with every day. Most of the natural remedies consist of caring for your body, participating in healthy activities, and eliminating unhealthy ones.

These include:

  • avoiding caffeine
  • quitting smoking cigarettes

If these lifestyle changes seem like a positive way to help you eliminate some anxiety, read about how each one worksplus, get more great ideas for treating anxiety.

How Does Anxiety Manifest In Physical Symptoms

This fight-or-flight response, which refers to a physiological reaction that occurs when youre faced with a perceived threat, is initiated by the release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. According to Dr. Firshein, these hormones cause symptoms that include increased heart rate and changes in blood sugar and blood pressure. There are numerous symptoms that are associated with the release of these hormones, he says. When this response doesnt turn off, its like a light switch that never goes off. The effects start to increase over time, and then it becomes chronic. Symptoms that should ebb and flow with an immediate crisis become persistent.

According to Dr. Firshein, these pathways will shorten over time, and the reaction to anxiety will become faster and more persistent. In some cases, this can occur slowly in others, it might be part of a condition called PTSD, he says.

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What Are The Signs And Symptoms

Worrying and the symptoms of anxiety can creep up on you gradually. This can make it hard to know how much worrying is too much.

Some common anxiety symptoms include:

  • hot and cold flushes
  • snowballing worries that get bigger and bigger
  • a racing mind full of thoughts
  • a constant need to check things are right or clean
  • persistent worrying ideas that seem ‘silly or crazy’ .

If you think you have any of these symptoms, you might want to look at the different types of anxiety disorders below.

Medical Conditions Which Can Cause Waves Of Anxiety

12 Effects of Anxiety on the Body

Its important that your doctor or other health professional rules out any other problems you may have, such as:

  • Thyroid disorder
  • Heart disease
  • Digestive-tract disorders
  • These conditions can also cause you to suffer from anxiety, and anti-anxiety medication would absolutely not be necessary. Indeed, long-term it may make the problem much worse. Id be delighted, therefore, to show you how you can help yourself. So read on!

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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.

    Are There Risk Factors For Anxiety

    There are multiple factors that create vulnerability to anxiety under stressful circumstances. On a purely psychological level is the ability to manage negative emotions. People lacking emotion regulation skills are at heightened risk of both anxiety and depression. Having a history of adverse life experiences during childhood, such as intense maltreatment or bouts of serious illness, also predisposes people to anxiety. It doesnt change the makeup of genes but it can permanently alter their level of activity so that that the brain is constantly on the lookout for and perceiving potential threats. Perhaps the strongest risk factor for anxiety is having the personality trait of neuroticism. It denotes the degree to which the negative affect system is readily activated. People high in trait neuroticism are dispositionally inclined to find experiences distressing and to worry.

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    Breathing And Respiratory Changes

    During periods of anxiety, a persons breathing may become rapid and shallow, which is called hyperventilation.

    Hyperventilation allows the lungs to take in more oxygen and transport it around the body quickly. Extra oxygen helps the body prepare to fight or flee.

    Hyperventilation can make people feel like they are not getting enough oxygen and they may gasp for breath. This can worsen hyperventilation and its symptoms, which include:

    • dizziness
    • weakness

    What Can I Do To Manage My Symptoms

    What Happens To Your Body When You Have Social Anxiety [Body & Mind]

    You can learn to manage your symptoms by looking after yourself. Selfcare is how you take care of your diet, sleep, exercise, daily routine, relationships and how you are feeling.


    Making small lifestyle changes can improve your wellbeing and can help your recovery.

    Routine helps many people with their mental wellbeing. It will help to give a structure to your day and may give you a sense of purpose. This could be a simple routine such as eating at the same time each day, going to bed at the same time each day and buying food once per week.

    Breathing exercises

    Breathing exercises can help to calm you when you are feeling anxious. Or having a panic attack. You will get the most benefit if you do them regularly, as part of your daily routine.

    There is more information about breathing exercises in the further reading section at the bottom of this page.

    Support groups

    You could join a support group. A support group is where people come together to share information, experiences and give each other support.

    You might be able to find a local group by searching online.

    Rethink Mental Illness have support groups in some areas. You can find out what is available in your area if you follow this link:

    Or you can call the Rethink Mental Illness Advice Service on 0300 5000 927 for more information.

    Recovery College

    You can find more information about Recovery by clicking here.

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    Is Anxiety Ever Good

    Anxiety is the reason your ancestors survived, enabling you to be reading these words now. Anxiety reflects the sensations that are triggered in body and brain in response to perceiving a threat theyre intended as an alarm, to jolt you into paying attention and taking appropriate action to head off possible danger. In short, anxiety protects you. But the system is built to err on the side of caution, which is why we feel anxious even in the absence of a real threat. The sensitivity of the alarm can be reset by traumatic experience so that it is always on. Further, the threats can be wholly invented by your own imaginationthoughts of ways any situation could possibly go wrong. Neither flaw in the system diminishes the value of anxietyto keep you alive.

    You Might Suffer From Tension Headaches And Migraines

    People with anxiety may be prone to tension headaches. The exact causes of tension headaches are unknown, but according to Healthline, common triggers include abnormal serotonin levels, trouble sleeping, muscle tension, and stress all of which could be anxiety-related. Additionally, according to the American Migraine Association, nearly half of all migraine sufferers in the United States also suffer from anxiety. Medical research published in The Journal of Headache and Pain suggests that individuals who suffer from migraines are five times more likely to experience anxiety than those who don’t. So, if you have anxiety, you may be familiar with migraines, too. And vice versa.

    To prevent potentially anxiety-induced headaches, Healthline suggests being aware of your triggers. Common migraine triggers include alcohol, caffeine, changes in hormone levels, lack of sleep, and general stress. You may also try to manage your anxiety directly in order to prevent headaches, such as by practicing yoga or meditation. Standard self-care measures, such as exercising daily and drinking plenty of water, can also be helpful in keeping both headaches and anxiety at bay.

    Still, anxiety headaches cannot be prevented completely. When they do arise, you may consider treatment options like medication, therapy, or acupuncture.

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    What Causes Anxiety Disorders

    We dont fully understand what causes anxiety disorders. But it is thought that the following factors can cause anxiety.

    Genetics. Some people seem to be born more anxious than others. You may get anxiety through your genes.

    Life experience. This could be bad experiences such as being abused or losing a loved one. It could also include big changes in life such as moving home, losing your job or pregnancy.

    Drugs. Caffeine in coffee and alcohol can make you feel anxious. Illegal drugs, also known as street drugs can also have an effect.

    Circumstances. Sometimes you know what is causing your anxiety. When the problem goes, so does your anxiety.

    What Else Should I Ask My Healthcare Provider

    The Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorder: What Anxiety Can Do To Your ...

    If you have an anxiety disorder, ask your provider:

    • Whats the best treatment for me?
    • Do I need medication? What type?
    • How long should I take medication?
    • What type of psychotherapy will work best?
    • What else can I do to manage my symptoms?
    • What other conditions am I at risk for?

    A note from Cleveland Clinic

    An anxiety disorder can make it difficult to get through your day. Anxiety disorder symptoms include feelings of nervousness, panic and fear. You may also have physical symptoms such as sweating and a rapid heartbeat. But you dont need to live like this. Several effective anxiety disorder treatments are available. Talk to your healthcare provider to figure out your diagnosis and the best treatment plan. Often, treatment combines medications and therapy. Anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants, together with CBT, can help you feel your best.

    Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/17/2020.


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    Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorders:

    Anyone may experience these symptoms during stressful times. However, individuals with anxiety disorders may experience them in absence of stress, with more severe symptoms and/or with several symptoms appearing together.

    • Inability to relax
    • Rapid pulse or pounding, skipping, racing heart
    • Nausea, chest pain or pressure
    • Feeling a “lump in the throat”
    • Dry mouth
    • Feelings of dread, apprehension or losing control
    • Trembling or shaking, sweating or chills
    • Fainting or dizziness, feelings of detachment
    • Thoughts of death

    When Should You Go To Er For Anxiety

    The best person to give you the best answer is your doctor. Always make sure to ask him before heading over to the ER. You can call the doctors office, or visit them in person to check if everything is okay. No matter how scared you are, do not pay attention to the thoughts of never coming up. That kind of thought is very dangerous for panic attacks..

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    When Should I See My Doctor

    If anxiety is impacting your everyday life, talking to a doctor or a mental healthcare professional is the first step to getting the right support and understanding the options for treatment.

    It might help to write down your symptoms for some time leading up to your appointment, so it’s easier to explain to a doctor or mental health professional what you’re going through. It will help them to make a thorough anxiety disorder diagnosis.

    If you are thinking about suicide, then its important to seek help immediately by calling an ambulance on triple zero .

    How Anxiety Affects You

    What’s happens in your brain and your body when you have anxiety

    Individual symptoms of anxiety are things we all experience from time-to-time.

    If you experience more than one of the following, over a couple of weeks or longer, you may need some extra support.

    Physical effects of anxiety

    • Dry mouth and/or difficulty swallowing
    • Nightmares
    • Difficulty getting to and staying asleep
    • Poor concentration
    • Rapid heart rate and breathing
    • Sweating or trembling
    • A flare-up of another health problem or illness
    • Sexual problems, such as not having any sexual feelings or no interest in sex

    Some common ways anxiety can affect your behaviour and feelings

    • Irritability or always being in a bad mood
    • Having a strong urge to avoid situations that could trigger your anxiety
    • Worry or always feeling that something bad is about to happen
    • Asking a lot of needless questions and needing constant reassurance
    • Being a perfectionist
    • Being pessimistic and focusing on what may go wrong in any given situation

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    Ways To Prevent Panic Attacks

    “You need to try to work out what particular stress you might be under that could make your symptoms worse,” says Professor Salkovskis. “It’s important not to restrict your movements and daily activities.”

    • Doing breathing exercises every day will help to prevent panic attacks and relieve them when they are happening
    • Regular exercise, especially aerobic exercise, will help you to manage stress levels, release tension, improve your mood and boost confidence
    • Eat regular meals to stabilise your blood sugar levels
    • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and smoking these can make panic attacks worse. Panic support groups have useful advice about how you can effectively manage your attacks. Knowing that other people are experiencing the same feelings can be reassuring. Your GP can put you in touch with groups in your area
    • Cognitive behavioural therapy can identify and change the negative thought patterns that are feeding your panic attacks

    The Anatomy Of Anxiety: Understanding & Overcoming The Bodys Fear Response

    In this podcast and blog, I talk to holistic psychiatrist, acupuncturist and yoga teacher Dr. Ellen Vora about the importance of taking a functional medicine approach to mental health, addressing imbalances at the root, taking a whole person approach to wellbeing, her amazing new book The Anatomy of Anxiety: Understanding and Overcoming the Bodys Fear Response, exploring what anxiety tells us, why women are often accused of being more anxious than men, anxiety and hormonal changes, and so much more!

    As Dr. Vora points out in her new book, anxiety is not just in your head. Our mind, brain and body are separate but integrated systems. They work togetherthe human mind is embodied. Anxiety and panic attacks are very real phenomenon that have physical aspects, and should not just be dismissed as they are just in your head by medical professionals. Mental health is physical health.

    Unfortunately, since the 1990s, healthcare has largely been influenced by the assumption that mental health is mainly determined by our genetics and our brain chemistry, essentially setting our destiny upon factors we cannot control. Yet, as Dr. Vora points out, our brain chemistry is often a downstream affect of something that is happening in the brain and body. Many mental health issues are closely related to physical health issues, which is why it is so important that we also address mental health on the level of the physical body. We should not just be looking at genes or brain chemistry.

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