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What Physical Effects Can Anxiety Cause

Youre Sweating Up A Storm

How stress affects your body – Sharon Horesh Bergquist

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.

The Adrenaline Hormone And Stress

When you are startled, frightened, or angry, your body produces the hormone adrenaline. Your body secretes adrenaline to give you strength and alertness to fight off or escape danger. This is your fight or flight response.

It worked great when most of the dangers humans faced were physical. By fighting or running away, people resolved the problem and worked off the tension that adrenaline produces.

The adrenaline hormone is responsible for the following physical symptoms under stress:

  • Shallow breathing
  • Intestines shut down
  • Tense, apprehensiveness, jitters

Without the option of running away and working off the energy adrenaline produces, it stagnates in your body. Further, a chronic adrenaline response to stress can have significant impact on your physical health.

Physical Effects Of Anxiety And Depression

Nearly 20% of adults in the United States have some form of anxiety disorder, making it the most common mental illness with 40 million people affected every year. Depression and anxiety are often co-occurring, with nearly 50% of those diagnosed with depression also having an anxiety diagnosis and vice versa, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

With many people reporting increased concern over their mental health due to the COVID-19 pandemic, its important to understand that both anxiety and depression are treatable. Oftentimes, the earliest signs of anxiety and depression can be physical. Left untreated, both mental illnesses can contribute to significant physical health concerns.

Causes of anxiety and depression

  • Anxiety: Everyone faces stress in their lives, but certain types of stress can increase your chances of developing an anxiety disorder that will need treatment. These include trauma experienced as a child or adult, illness-related stress, prolonged stress or worry about a situation and underlying personality traits. As mentioned previously, having depression or other mental health disorders increases your risk for having an anxiety disorder, as does a family history and drug or alcohol misuse.

Mental health conditions often present as and lead to physical symptoms

In some cases, both anxiety and depression can be detected via physical symptoms.

When left untreated, both mental health conditions can lead to troubling medical conditions.

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The Effects Of Anxiety On The Body

Anxiety is a normal part of life. For example, you may have felt anxiety before addressing a group or in a job interview.

In the short term, anxiety increases your breathing and heart rate, concentrating blood flow to your brain, where you need it. This very physical response is preparing you to face an intense situation.

If it gets too intense, however, you might start to feel lightheaded and nauseous. An excessive or persistent state of anxiety can have a devastating effect on your physical and mental health.

Anxiety disorders can happen at any stage of life, but they usually begin by middle age. Women are more likely to have an anxiety disorder than men, says the National Institute of Mental Health .

Stressful life experiences may increase your risk for an anxiety disorder, too. Symptoms may begin immediately or years later. Having a serious medical condition or a substance use disorder can also lead to an anxiety disorder.

There are several types of anxiety disorders. They include:

Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety Because Its Not All Mental

Effects of stress on the body

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.

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How Anxiety Disorders Affect People

For people dealing with anxiety disorders, symptoms can feel strange and confusing at first. For some, the physical sensations can be strong and upsetting. For others, feelings of doom or fear that can happen for no apparent reason can make them feel scared, unprotected, and on guard. Constant worries can make a person feel overwhelmed by every little thing. All this can affect someone’s concentration, confidence, sleep, appetite, and outlook.

People with anxiety disorders might avoid talking about their worries, thinking that others might not understand. They may fear being unfairly judged, or considered weak or scared. Although anxiety disorders are common, people who have them may feel misunderstood or alone.

Some people with anxiety disorders might blame themselves. They may feel embarrassed or ashamed, or mistakenly think that anxiety is a weakness or a personal failing. Anxiety can keep people from going places or doing things they enjoy.

The good news is, doctors today understand anxiety disorders better than ever before and, with treatment, a person can feel better.

Anxiety Symptoms To Know

1. Stomach distress: Anxiety and stress can cause stomach pain and well as other digestive disturbances like diarrhea. Prolonged stress has also been linked to ulcers. So how can you tell if nausea is from anxiety? If youve been experiencing noticeable nausea and you arent showing any symptoms of illness or flu, its time to see your doctor.

2. Sleep disturbance: Insomnia, inability to get to sleep and waking frequently are all common responses to anxiety. Of course, poor sleep has its own side effects like extreme fatigue, foggy thinking, and weakening your immune system.

3. Heart & breathing issues: Anxiety can cause rapid breathing, shortness of breath, a rapid heartbeat, dizziness, and lightheadedness. It can also aggravate asthma. Of even greater concern is that studies have also found links between anxiety and an increase in heart disease, heart failure, and stroke among older adults.

4. Muscle pain & headaches: Tense muscles may help you spring into action in the face of danger, but prolonged tension leads to pain. Prolonged or repeated periods of stress and anxiety can lead to back pain, neck pain, chest pain and more. They can also be a root cause of recurring headaches and migraines.

5. Sweats, shakes or chills: Constant jolts of adrenaline and cortisol can also cause you to feel sweaty or shaky, feel overheated or chilled, and even feel numbing or tingling sensations.

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Dual Diagnosis: Addiction And Anxiety

Unfortunately, many people with anxiety disorders are at risk of developing an addiction to alcohol or other substances, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. If you are seeking treatment for an anxiety disorder and also feel like you have a substance abuse problem, try to find a facility that can help you treat both these issues.

Combining Psychotherapy And Drugs

The physical effects of anxiety | Alex’s Mental Health Story | Mind

Patients with anxiety or depression sometimes find that combining psychotherapy with medication offers the most complete relief. A randomized controlled trial, the Stepped Care for Affective Disorders and Musculoskeletal Pain study, suggests that a combination approach might also work for people suffering pain in addition to a psychiatric disorder.

The trial enrolled 250 patients with chronic pain in the lower back, hip, or knee. Participants also had at least moderate depression, as measured by a standard clinical instrument. One group was assigned to 12 weeks of antidepressant therapy followed by a 12-week pain self-management intervention based on principles of CBT. In the “usual care” group, which served as a control, researchers informed participants that they had depression and should seek advice or treatment. Results were considered significant if participants reported at least a 50% reduction in depression severity and at least a 30% reduction in pain. At the 12-month mark, both depression and pain were significantly reduced in 32 of 123 intervention patients , compared with 10 of 127 usual care participants .

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Whats The Outlook For People With Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders can often go undiagnosed and untreated. Fortunately, treatment can help. The right treatment can help improve your quality of life, relationships and productivity. It can also support your overall well-being.

You dont need to live with constant worry and fear. If you notice symptoms of an anxiety disorder, talk to your healthcare provider. Its best to get diagnosed and treated as soon as possible. Doing so can limit the problems that anxiety disorders can cause. Often, a combination of medications and counseling for anxiety can help you feel your best.

Effects Of Stress On The Body

Stress exists in many forms. Any situation you are not in control of is stressful. The effects of stress are commonly known. Yet you may not be aware of the way it impacts you physically.

Stress takes its toll in countless ways. It is commonly found to be at the root of many emotional, cognitive, and behavioral problems. And can cause you to fall into depression, experience anxiety, and simply feel overwhelmed with everyday things.

While stress is unavoidable, too much of it can actually have an impact on your physical health as well. The physical effects of stress on your body can cause you to feel even worse and perpetuate the cycle of emotional stress. The physical consequences of stress are one of the more serious effects of stress.

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Why The Body Responds To Anxiety

Stressful life events can trigger panic attacks. However, panic attacks do not always have an obvious cause.

The physical symptoms of panic attacks are due to the bodys fight-or-flight response, which generates fear and anxiety.

During the fight-or-flight response, an individual responds to authentic and unreal danger in the same way and with the same physiological reactions. For example, their heart and breathing rates increase, they have a surge of adrenaline, and their senses become hyperalert.

A persons body responds in this way because it is preparing to either fight the threat or run away from it.

The increase in blood flow prepares the muscles to flee from danger and allows the brain to focus and make quick decisions. The rapid breathing provides the body with more oxygen, ready to escape.

However, these things may cause the individual to feel as though they cannot get enough air, which may result in further feelings of panic.

How Therapy Can Help

Stress and Anxiety

As you can see, emotional strain affects more than just your mental state. The physical consequences of stress are just as severe and can greatly impact your quality of life or even lead to other health-related issues.

A therapist can help you cope with the effects of stress in your life and identify ways to reduce the sources of stress of stress where possible. Sometimes this involves finding new solutions to old problems, looking at situations differently, or processing your emotions. In other cases, this might involve healing deeper anxieties and fears stemming from past trauma. Find out more about our stress management counseling services.

If youre overwhelmed with stress and its starting to affect your physical health, feel free to contact us. Together, we can talk more about the underlying cause of that stress and work on ways to safely and effectively manage it.

If you or someone you know is struggling with stress, help is available. Contact one of our Counselors. Our therapists can help you or your loved one cope and minimize the physical effects of stress.

To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online. We offer therapy in Houston, TX or online counseling in Texas, Indiana and Alabama. We look forward to help you!

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Uncommon Anxiety Symptoms And Rare Anxiety Symptoms

Some symptoms of anxiety are much less common, and some physical anxiety symptoms are rare. These symptoms may also be more common in those with specific types of anxiety. For example, those with panic attacks and post traumatic stress disorder are more likely to experience hyperventilation, and hyperventilation can lead to a host of additional anxiety symptoms, including:

  • Chest Pains
  • Tingling or Weakness in the Extremities
  • Bloating/Gas
  • Finger Cramps
  • Yawning

Hyperventilation symptoms are NOT rare. They are actually extremely common. But they are more common in some types of anxiety than others. Furthermore there are many other uncommon and rare anxiety symptoms, because anxiety causes stress, and stress can change your body in unusual ways. Some uncommon symptoms include:

  • Depersonalization
  • Skin rashes/itching
  • Sudden, Urgent Need to Urinate
  • Eye Pain/Strain/Vision Issues
  • Vertigo

One of the most interesting, and unfortunate issues with anxiety is that there’s no way to know exactly how stress will affect you. Stress can affect your organs, your hormones, your nutrition, and more.

For example, it’s possible for anxiety and stress to cause other disorders as well, like anemia. Stress may also cause other mental health conditions as well, especially depression. Anxiety is much more complex than people give it credit for, and may be related to numerous physical issues that others assume are related to physical health.

Treatment For Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety

Treatment for anxiety depends on what symptoms you have and how severe they are.

Therapy and medication are the two main treatments for anxiety. If you experience physical symptoms, talk therapy or medication that improves your anxiety often leads to improvement of these symptoms.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most common and effective therapy options for anxiety.

You may find that therapy on its own is helpful. But if your symptoms dont improve, anxiety medication is an option you can discuss with a psychiatrist.

You can also take action on your own to address anxiety symptoms.

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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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