What Are the Effects of Anxiety on The Body? Anxiety disorders are the most frequent mental illness in the United States. In fact, anxiety affects 40 million individuals each year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Anxiety may impact people in various ways. Because the release of stress hormones and other substances in the body may have a diverse influence on your physical and mental health. Living in persistent fear affects a person’s everyday life.
If you or someone you love is suffering from excessive anxiety, it may feel as if it will kill you. This is especially true for those who suffer from panic attacks.
While anxiety will not kill you, it raises the likelihood of developing various mental health disorders or medical illnesses such as heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, depression, and diabetes. Anxiety can also lead to sleep problems and poor work performance.
What Are the Effects of Anxiety on The Body?
We’ve defined anxiety, anxiety symptoms, and long-term effects, below. We also discuss anxiety disorders to help you understand what causes them. Finally, we discuss how to seek treatment if you are suffering from anxiety.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as “an emotion marked by feelings of tension, anxious thoughts, and bodily changes such as elevated blood pressure.”
That being said, anxiety disorder manifests differently for everyone, but it frequently seems like a continual, nagging concern that won’t go away.
While worrying might occasionally be justified (in certain situations, it may be your brain’s method of protecting you from genuine danger), anxiety is mainly about unjustified fears that won’t go away.
If you believe you have mild anxiety it or severe anxiety, pay attention to the length of time your symptoms last, the strength of your nerves, and your inability to pinpoint a specific cause.
The different types of anxiety disorders?
The different types of anxiety disorders are:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
It is a long-term condition that causes a person to be nervous about a variety of circumstances and concerns. People with Generalized Anxiety Disorder feel nervous most of the time and seldom recall the last time they felt comfortable.
It starts as a sudden, extreme dread accompanied by excessive perspiration, agitation, chest discomfort, and a racing or hammering heartbeat (heart palpitations), which commonly mimics a heart attack.
Social anxiety disorder or social phobia
It is characterized by a sense of overpowering concern and self-consciousness in daily social encounters. Selective mutism is a common variety noticed in children who are confident in front of their family but do not talk at all in school or other places.
It occurs when a loved one passes away. It is frequently observed in small children who are terrified or nervous when a loved one departs. It can even impact grownups who are concerned that something horrible will happen to their loved ones while they are not around.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
This is caused by extreme anxiety following a traumatic event or stressful experience.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
This is characterized by persistent ideas and compulsions that result in repetitive, compulsory physical or mental behaviors.
Physical symptoms of anxiety disorders
Anxiety may be occurring in your thoughts, but the adverse effects might emerge physically. While there are many more possible physical side effects, these are the common physical symptoms.
One or more of these symptoms may be present in general anxiety. However, panic attacks frequently comprise many of these at once:
- Increased heart rate
- Sudden sweating or chills
- Dry mouth
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath or the feeling of your throat closing in
- Trembling or shakiness
What are the effects of anxiety?
When a person is nervous, tense, or afraid, the brain sends messages to various regions of the body. The signals indicate whether the body should have a fight or flight response.
The body responds by producing adrenaline and cortisol, which are commonly referred to as stress hormones.
Anxiety has a substantial impact on the body, and an anxiety disorder raises the chance of acquiring physical illness or chronic health illnesses.
Anxiety has the following effects on the body
Impaired immune function
Anxiety enhances immune system responses in the short term. Persistent worry and emotional stress, on the other hand, might have the opposite impact.
Cortisol inhibits the production of inflammatory molecules and shuts off components of the immune system that fight infections, weakening the body’s normal immunological response.
People suffering from persistent anxiety problems may be more susceptible to ordinary colds, the flu, and other sorts of illnesses.
During times of anxiety, a person’s breathing may become quick and shallow, a condition known as hyperventilation.
Hyperventilation permits the lungs to take in more oxygen and move it throughout the body more quickly. Extra oxygen aids the body’s preparation for fight or flight response.
People who are hyperventilating may feel as though they are not receiving enough oxygen and may gasp for air.
Anxiety can alter the heart rate and blood circulation. A higher heart rate allows you to run or fight more easily, while increased blood flow provides more oxygen and nutrients to your muscles.
Vasoconstriction occurs when blood vessels narrow and can impact body temperature. As a result of vasoconstriction, people frequently have hot flashes. In order to cool down, the body sweats. This may sometimes be overpowering and leave a person feeling cold.
Long-term chronic anxiety disorders may be harmful to the cardiovascular system and heart function. According to research, long-term anxiety raises the risk of heart disease in otherwise healthy persons.
Changes in digestive functions
Cortisol inhibits activities that the body deems unnecessary in a fight or flight situation. Digestion is one of these obstructed processes. Adrenaline also lowers blood flow and relaxes stomach muscles.
As a result, an anxious person may have nausea, diarrhea, and the sensation that their stomach is churning. They may also experience a loss of appetite.
According to research, anxiety and depression are connected to a variety of digestive illnesses, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Anxiety and stress are widespread among persons with IBS.
Anxiety can increase the desire to pee or worsen urinary incontinence symptoms. According to 2016 research patients with overactive bladder (OAB) were more likely to suffer anxiety than control groups.
Researchers also discovered that persons with OAB who are anxious had more severe incontinence symptoms than those who are not anxious.
Treatment options for anxiety disorder
There are several mental health specialists and wellness professionals that specialize in anxiety disorder therapy. If you experience persistent anxiety, you should consult your doctor or a cognitive-behavioral therapist to see if you have any of the anxiety disorders mentioned above.
While contemplating therapy is an excellent choice if you aren’t currently attending, here are some other options for treating your anxiety.
- Clear your mind: Whether you want to meditate, do yoga, or simply go for a stroll, taking a break from what’s causing the anxiety is good so you can live in the present moment.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol: These chemicals can make you feel more worried, especially if you consume them in large quantities. Click here for drink options that you can take instead.
- Daily exercise: You will feel considerably better after the endorphins are released during physical activity. This does not have to be too much exercise, but it should be enough to raise your heart rate.
- Take deep breaths: This is especially important when you are feeling a surge in your anxiety levels. Take a deep breath, count to 10, practice relaxation techniques, or meditate.
Recognize your triggers: Pay attention to the times when your anxiety really comes in, and take notice of what happens before such times.
I hoped you learned a thing or two about anxiety from my post “What Are the Effects of Anxiety on The Body?”. Do you have anything you want to add? Please leave me a comment below. Thank you!