Anxiety Symptoms: Affecting More Than Just Your Mind
Anxiety. What's the first thing that comes to mind? Often times people focus on mental and emotional effects. Which makes perfect sense, because anxiety does affect your mental health. But, anxiety disorders can come with their share of physical symptoms, too.
Symptoms we don't always talk about...
When somebody is experiencing an anxiety disorder, their fight-or-flight system is in overdrive. Our fight-or-flight system is useful if we are facing a physical threat. Say, for example, we’re faced by a lion. But, if you have anxiety, your fear and worry are that threat. This prompts your sympathetic nervous system which controls involuntary processes like your breathing and your heart rate to kick into high gear. This leads to the release of hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, also known as the stress hormones.
This becomes a domino effect that doesn't only trigger mental symptoms but physical ones, too.
The domino effect can start with...
1. Your Heart
This is a common classic sign of anxiety. When you're dealing with something stressful your adrenal glands churns out hormones. Hormones like adrenaline and cortisol. Your heart reacts to these hormones by speeding up your heartbeat.
Now, remember when we said these hormones are beneficial when you're faced with a physical threat? If you were facing that lion, these hormones would push you to reach your 100% capacity to outrun it.
But, if you are dealing with anxiety, it could make you feel more nervous which can become a vicious cycle. Making you feeling threatened by simple thoughts and worries.
2. Your Breathing
Your stress response to the release of adrenaline and cortisol boosts how fast you're sending blood around your body. Your blood circulates the oxygen around your body. So, the reaction to your hormones is that your blood starts to circulate through your body quicker, increasing your breathing - to provide you with more oxygen.
This is when hyperventilation may trigger. Breathing quickly can enhance physical symptoms such as shakes, feeling dizzy, other physical symptoms because your oxygen/carbon dioxide is out of balance.
That's why we talk about breathing. By slowing down your breath, you have more of a chance to get the oxygen you need.
3. You're Always Feeling Tired
For starters, stress hormones can have you feeling on high alert - all the time. This can be seriously draining.
Being on high alert all the time may effect your sleep. For example, you either can't fall asleep, are restless during the night, or can't stay asleep. This leaves you waking up feeling unrested. And, well, tired.
Elevated levels of stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline make it hard to get a good night's sleep, and even if you do end up falling asleep your body may not be able to relax enough to rest.
4. "I gotta use the bathroom"
Catching yourself feeling constipated, having diarrhea or even experiencing stomach pains?
Anxiety can affect your digestive system, and these are a few of the symptoms you may be experiencing.
Experts say a lot of this may boil down to the communication system between your brain and enteric nervous system that governs your digestion.
This connection is why stress can affect your stomach and digestion.
5. You Get the Shakes
Feeling worried all the time can cause you to feel 'on edge'. A by-product could be getting startled easily, shaking and trembling.
Those experiencing anxiety often try to plan for the unknown or prepare for the unexpected. This causes them to feel 'on guard'. An individual experiencing an anxiety disorder can react with "startled responses" to unpredicted situations.
6. You Get Sick, Often
Some people tend to get sick often in periods where they feel heighten anxiety. If you've been feeling highly anxious for too long, your immune system doesn't function very well.
This means you may be more susceptible to the common cold or flu.
Physical symptoms of anxiety can be indescribable. But often described as, 'awful'.
The bright side to it is that there is a treatment for anxiety. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is the gold standard approach to treating anxiety. It helps you to retrain your brain's anxious thoughts, as well as your perception of certain situations.
The best course of treatment is different for everyone, it's important to find a treatment that fits your needs and your symptoms. For many, a blended approach gives them quality results.
To learn more about how you can manage and overcome your anxiety sign up for our 7-day free trial here.