What anxiety can do to your body? (A Complete Guide)
In this article, we are going through some of the impacts that anxiety may have on your mind, on your body and on your life and how you can deal with that.
If you suffer from anxiety, you will find all you need to understand it and treat it here.
Physical symptoms of anxiety can have a great impact on your body.
Since it is a psychosomatic disease, as soon as you start the right treatment the sooner you will get a healthier body and a calmer mind.
Anxiety – what is it?
You have probably already felt some kind of anxiety before a test, a job interview, a first date.
It comes whenever you are feeling insecure and frightened, so it is a natural response to a threat.
It is the state of mind you get into in order to be able to flee or fight off a troubling situation.
Having that said, it is understandable that such a state of mind comes with body changes that will make you strong enough to face the intense situation.
A rush of hormones flood your veins and you feel your heart beating faster and may experience heart palpitations, and chest pain.
However, this unpleasant feeling of anxiety is more common than ever in modern life.
The threats we face nowadays are not as clear as they were in prehistoric times.
It may be even difficult to acknowledge a certain situation as a cause of stress because each person has specific fears that might not be understandable to everyone.
Take public speaking for example.
It is a very common anxiety trigger for many introverted and shy people.
On the other hand, extroverted people might find this a very easy and even pleasant task.
Anxiety is related to future events.
So, in the example above, the introverted person would start suffering from the first day his boss tells him that he will have to make a presentation for the entire company.
Therefore, anxiety is a very subjective response and to take any kind of action to improve your quality of life is it necessary to have an accurate self-assessment and sharp observation of oneself.
Research even suggests that therapist supplemented bibliotherapy could provide an efficacious treatment option for families isolated from traditional treatment services. Here, we have listed some of the best CBT books you can use to improve anxiety.
When anxiety becomes a real-life problem
Feeling anxious is part of our lives.
It means you have a normal response and understand the threats that surround you.
Who would be relaxed to go through a dark street where there are constant armed robberies?
The symptoms you feel in your body are a sign of distress, communication between your body and your mind.
Accept that and learn to read them as a source of self-knowledge.
Anxiety can become a real-life problem when it is felt excessively often and it ends up reflecting on physical chronical symptoms like:
- Muscular pain
- Problems in concentration
- Digestive problems
- Shortness of breath
- Excessive perspiration
- Skin rashes
- Erectile dysfunctions
- Urinary urgency
Muscular tension on the neck and shoulders are one of the most common body impacts that anxiety can cause.
It may even become a posture problem if it stands for too long.
One might not even realize the muscle tension until it starts to hurt badly and damage the spine.
Besides, if you feel constantly anxious you might want to avoid the situations that could trigger your fear to lead to isolation and, in the worst cases, to depression.
If you feel anxious and doesn’t even understand why that can also become a life problem.
Not understanding the trigger may cause low self-steam that itself can ruin your quality of life.
There are many kinds of chronicle anxieties that decrease a person’s ability to function in their daily lives.
They are called anxiety disorders and differ for generalized anxiety, which is a normal reaction to stressful and uncertain situations.
It is your body telling you to stay alert and protect yourself
Anxiety disorders are a group of mental disorders characterized by exaggerated feelings of anxiety and fear responses like generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), specific phobia, social phobia, separation anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, panic disorder, and selective mutism.
In these cases, people may experience more than one at the same time.
How can you tell if your symptoms are related to anxiety?
Many of the symptoms listed above are very common in different kinds of diseases. So, if you are experiencing them that does not mean that you suffer from chronicle anxiety.
If you cannot find a root, a trigger to these symptoms, it is important to look for a physician and make sure all if well with your health
Many medical conditions can cause anxiety, like asthma, for example.
Not being able to breath will definitely make you feel anxious.
Erectile dysfunctions, digestive disorders can also be a cause of anxiety since you know that the probable result will be embarrassing.
Nevertheless, if your health is in order, you might be experiencing psychosomatic anxiety.
The term psychosomatic refers to real physical symptoms that do not have a specific organic cause in the body (such as a wound or infection).
Unfortunately, that does not mean that the impacts on your health and body are less important.
The first step to recognizing that what you feel is anxiety is by observing yourself.
Whenever you feel very uncomfortable, uneasy or suddenly have one of the symptoms above check what is happening around you:
- Did you get any troubling news?
- Where are you and who is around you?
- How are you feeling?
- What thoughts crossed your mind?
Taking notes and making a journal of your day, including feelings and thoughts, not only facts, has shown to be very helpful in dealing with anxiety.
It is very common that self-depreciation thoughts come to your mind, telling you that you are not capable or strong enough to face the situation.
Anxiety is linked with a pessimistic outcome expectancy. You fear the possible result, so you feel anxious.
All of these body changes are signs of an emotional state, so if you just pay attention to them you will better perceive the situation you are facing and therefore will be able to handle them in a more constructive way.
It might also be the case that you already know the cause of your anxiety. One or more situations can make you anxious and insecure.
In that case, you might want to use the same diary log to analyze if these situations have anything in common.
When you know the triggers to your anxiety is easier to be prepared for situations where that might happen.
How Can You Treat Anxiety?
Some very good techniques can be useful as a side treatment for anxiety and are used in many therapies.
Here is a way for you to improve your self-knowledge and deal with your anxiety.
- Have a Diary
As I mentioned above, it is very beneficial to have a diary and take notes, of not only the facts that happen during the day but also about the feelings and thoughts that crossed your mind.
In time, you will be able to understand your anxiety process and deal better with it.
- List the situations where you normally feel anxious
After some time taking notes you will be able to list the situations that trigger your anxiety and get ready for them when they are about to happen.
If your anxiety is related to performance, for instance, you know that you will feel bad when a test or an evaluation is coming.
This is also a way to confine the problem to specific situations, which already will make you feel better about yourself.
You are not always nervous and insecure.
You will see that in some situations you can be confident and strong.
- Write down your pessimistic expectation
You now know that anxiety is related to fear of something happening in the future, is linked with insecurity.
You fear the outcome will be a disaster, but you don’t picture it well, it’s like a blur of negative feelings and flashes of embarrassing images and memories of past experiences.
We feel insecure and weak when the future is uncertain, so taking notes of what you think might happen will be therapeutic for two reasons.
First, you will analyze your expectations more realistically and might even see that the chances of that outcome to happen are very small.
Second, because you will better understand what can really happen and get ready for that.
- List other possible outcomes
After writing down your worst-case scenario, add to it at least 4 more possible outcomes, including positive ones.
You might need the help of a close trusted friend for that.
You will see how powerful this simple activity can be.
By listing many results you stop giving so much importance and energy to that pessimistic idea you were grabbing on to.
Again, I will stress the importance of really taking notes.
The closer you get to the feared situation the more likely it is for you to forget the other possible scenarios.
- Have a Damage Control Plan
Your anxiety may come from a trauma or a bad past experience, so it is natural to fear that happening again.
Just thinking positive will not take your fear away. If it happened in the past, it may happen again.
Therefore, for the sake of being realistic and dealing with all possibilities, now it is time to face the fear and have a damage control plan.
By that, I mean planning what you will do if your anxiety is too strong and really gets in the way of your life.
Going back to our example, the person afraid of public speeches might feel really nervous by the time he gets on stage and starts to stutter.
Beginning his talk by saying he is nervous is a very good way to make the audience patient and sympathetic.
The question you must answer here is – what will I do if the worst happens? You will also see that the consequences are seldom that bad.
- Practice Meditation or Yoga
Mindfulness practices, meditation and yoga are very effective ways of dealing with anxiety at the same time as reducing its symptoms.
You can do it at home, practising alone or in a group.
If you suffer from anxiety you are not alone, neither this is a reason to think less of you, but it is a sign that you must pay more attention and care to yourself.
Anxiety may have strong effects on your body such as muscular tension, digestive problems, abdominal pain, headaches, itchy skin, perspiration, impotency, shortness of breath, tachycardia, and chest pains.
Therefore, it is very important to consult a physician and be sure that you don’t have any medical condition that might be the underlying cause of what you feel in your body.
Some diseases can be the cause of anxiety as well as anxiety can be the cause of physical symptoms.
Although anxiety is a normal response for stressful situations, if it happens too often, it can damage the quality of life and your physical health and be a real disease.
What is stressful for you might be different from the people around you.
Self-knowledge is essential for anyone, even more for those who suffer from anxiety and its symptoms.
Following a systematic observation of yourself will make your therapy evolve faster.
Taking a researcher approach to your problem can be a very good way for doing that, taking notes of thoughts and feelings and analyzing the possible outcomes in order to be prepared for the feared situation and to get a more realistic point of view of your fear.
Do not be ashamed of yourself.
If you understand that you need help to overcome this problem, do not hesitate to look for a professional.
Looking for help is a very brave attitude and it shows how much you want and is willing to do to have the quality of life you deserve.
Frequently asked questions (FAQs) about anxiety and body symptoms:
How prevalent are anxiety disorders?
The prevalence of anxiety disorders across the world varies from 2.5 to 7% by country.
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.
When do you have to use medication to treat anxiety?
Medication for anxiety can only be prescribed by a doctor, so before think about this kind of treatment make an appointment with your doctor to check if that is your case.
Since anxiety is a real disease it is important to consult with a psychologist or a psychiatrist before starting any kind of treatment.
Is Anxiety a psychological disease?
No. Anxiety is a psychosomatic disease, which can have an emotional or organic origin, and regardless of its origin, affects both the body and the mind.
For this reason, the treatment that has been shown to be the most effective is multidisciplinary treatment, in which there is accompaniment and support from both the psychologist and the psychiatrist.
Is generalized anxiety disorder curable by alternative methods such as practicing sports and meditating?
No, anxiety disorders cannot be cured by using only alternative methods.
For mild degrees of anxiety, palliative and alternative supports, such as sports and meditation, can, in fact, bring benefits.
However, it should be used as a parallel treatment to multidisciplinary therapy with a psychologist and a psychiatrist.
Should I look for a psychiatrist or a psychologist?
You should look for a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Since anxiety is a psychosomatic disease, the most effective treatment is multidisciplinary follow-up.
Therefore, the search for any of these professionals will result (at least should) in the evaluation and indication of complementary treatment.
Can any psychologist or psychiatrist treat anxiety?
Not all psychologist and psychiatrists treat anxiety disorders.
General mental health professionals, whether you initially see a psychiatrist or see a psychologist, should have some knowledge of the full range of treatment options, as well as expertise in treating anxiety disorders.
It is important that you ask how much experience the mental health professional you are considering has in treating individuals with anxiety.
How To Control Your Anxiety Before It Controls You
Yoga For Heath: Fear & Anxiety
Accessing the Healing Power of the Vagus Nerve: Self-Help Exercises for Anxiety, Depression,
Trauma, and Autism
Be Calm: Proven Techniques to Stop Anxiety Now
The Anxiety Skills Workbook: Simple CBT and Mindfulness Strategies for Overcoming Anxiety,
Fear, and Worry
Guided Meditation for Relief of Stress & Anxiety
Anxiety and Depression Association of America
What does anxiety feel like and how does it affect the body?
Stress, Depression and Psychosomatic Illness
As perguntas mais frequentes sobre ansiedade
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