It is well known that chronic anxiety afflicts our minds, but it is less common to be associated with many unpleasant and unpredictable physical symptoms. Yet the truth is that it can affect our bodies from head to toe, and although most of these symptoms last only a short time, they can also pose serious health risks in the long run. To avoid these, it is also very important for you to know what bodily signs indicate that you are also anxious.
What exactly do we mean by anxiety?
“Anxiety can be defined along emotional, thought and behavioral factors, actually experiencing a sense of threat or danger, which is basically a natural human reaction in certain situations. For example, when we feel threatened, we may freeze, or we may prefer to escape the situation, an evolutionarily coded mechanism.
However, since most anxious thoughts do not stem from real life-and-death situations, the series of symptoms is often the biggest challenge. “Anxiety is a problem when it is out of proportion to the scale of the emergency. So if we experience signs of anxiety as if we are in much greater danger or threat than the situation justifies, or if it becomes so common that it can affect our way of life, it is an obstacle in our daily lives, ”the expert added.
What physical symptoms can you produce?
1. Increased heartbeat
Anxiety is a common sign when you feel your heart suddenly beating at a double rate. When we struggle with something strenuous, our adrenal glands produce increased levels of certain hormones, such as adrenaline, which increase our heart rate, among other things. This can be useful in real emergencies because it allows more blood to enter our muscles. But if there is no real danger, we can only become even more anxious, which could soon lead to a vicious circle.
2. Shortness of breath
Oxygen circulates through the bloodstream in our body. If our heart rate is increased, our breathing may also increase to get more oxygen. This can also be useful if we need to overcome an actual threat. But if that’s not the case, breathing too fast can exacerbate many other physical symptoms of anxiety. This is because it upsets the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the body.
3. Sleep problems
If you often have difficulty sleeping or waking up at night, it is not out of the question that anxiety is responsible. Elevated hormone levels, such as cortisol and adrenaline, make it harder to sleep at night because your body may not be able to relax enough to rest. Not only that, anxiety is often accompanied by zigzagging thoughts, which also hinder a restful night’s sleep.
4. Muscle tension and muscle pain
Muscles are also tensed as part of a stress response, and if this stiffness lasts for a long time, it can lead to severe muscle pain. Pain can occur in the neck, back, and shoulders, but it can also cause the affected person to tighten their jaws or feel muscle tension all over their head as a result of the stress. In the long run, it can cause everyday headaches or even migraines in those who are prone to it.
5. Digestive problems
Anxiety can also have a major effect on the digestive system. People who are anxious often experience stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, or other indigestion. In some cases, gasification or bloating may occur. And those who basically do not pay attention to a balanced diet or do not exercise regularly may experience these symptoms even more intensely and for a long time.
Considering the general effects of anxiety on the digestive system, it may come as no surprise that nausea is also one of the common physical symptoms. According to a study in the journal General Hospital Psychiatry, people who regularly reported nausea were more than three times more likely to have an anxiety disorder than those who rarely had nausea.
If you’ve ever found yourself trembling with fear before a big event, you know how uncomfortable it feels when your body reacts that way under a lot of pressure. However, this does not require external factors such as a scary presentation or an important meeting. Simply upsetting the hormonal balance due to anxiety may be enough to cause you to tremble.
8. Constant sweating
If you’re already anxious, the thought of profuse sweating can only make the situation worse. Unfortunately, constant sweating is also a common symptom of anxiety. When the sympathetic nervous system is activated, it can also affect the sweat glands in our body. And perhaps even more uncomfortable is that as soon as sweating occurs, it mixes with the bacteria on the skin, a strong body odor can also occur.
9. Decreased or increased appetite
Anxiety has the strange ability to completely lose interest in food, but it can also be a constant desire to snack. Hormones such as adrenaline tend to limit appetite when a fight or flight reaction rages. The cortisol released, for example, can increase our interest in fatty, sugary foods. It is precise because of these that when you are seriously worried or have no appetite or you devour everything.
10. Immune system problems
If your fight or flight reaction doesn’t work properly for an extended period of time, your immune system will most likely not do the job as effectively. This means that you may be more susceptible to diseases such as colds. Of course, this can be influenced by several factors, such as whether you want to strengthen your immune system or wash your hands regularly and thoroughly.