July 09, 2020
Anxiety can be triggered by almost anything: reading the news, giving a presentation, waiting to board an airplane, or even just imagining a future situation.
Most people are familiar with the feeling—your pulse and breathing quickens, face becomes flushed, and a pit in your stomach forms as adrenaline begins to rush through your body. Although anxiety begins with your thoughts, it can exact a physical toll.
While mild anxiety is a normal part of life, long-term anxiety can significantly impact your mental and physical health. Even if the thoughts caused by anxiety are irrational, your body’s response to them can be very real. There are many types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety, social anxiety, and separation anxiety in children. Even panic disorder or obsessive-compulsive disorder are rooted in anxiety. Each of these disorders can cause physical symptoms that can threaten your short- and long-term health if they’re not addressed.
Some of the most widespread physical effects of anxiety have to do with rest. The adrenaline released by the body in response to anxiety can result in exhausting fatigue and other mental exertion. This fatigue is amplified by difficulty sleeping – your mind filling with anxious thoughts makes it hard to fall asleep, and can make whatever sleep you do get, disrupted.
The effects of anxiety, both mental and physical, often compound. Physical exhaustion leaves anxiety sufferers on edge and more prone to trouble at work, at home, or generally irritable—impacts which, in turn, fuel anxiety. Living under the constant cloud of stress can cause trembling, sweating, twitching, or result in being easily startled. Each of these physical symptoms adds to distress and harms long-term health.
Muscle tension and muscle aches are part of anxiety, and anxiety sufferers can even have nausea or irritable bowel syndrome. Those who suffer from anxiety also have an increased risk of substance abuse and depression.
While a doctor can help treat these physical symptoms of anxiety, it’s important that sufferers work to resolve the mental distress that creates their anxiety in the first place. Like other mental health conditions, anxiety can be harder to treat the longer it persists, so seeing a doctor when symptoms become increasingly difficult to manage is important.
If you’re currently suffering from anxiety, you’re not alone. You can find information and support resources at mindphltogether.com.
Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other medical professional. You should not use the information contained herein for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication. If you have, or suspect that you have, a medical problem, promptly contact your health care provider.