Anxiety is a natural response to stress, but it can seriously impact your life when it becomes overpowering or happens without provocation. Anxiety symptoms can be distressing and overwhelming, causing severe harm to the body and leading to health problems. Fortunately, professional mental health treatment can help you overcome it and live a better life.
If you notice anxiety symptoms, turn to Insight Into Action Therapy. We provide evidence-based anxiety treatment, including cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and mindfulness techniques. Don’t let anxiety control your life. Contact us at 703.935.8544 today to start feeling better.
How Does Anxiety Affect Your Body?
Anxiety can impact every system in the body, from the central nervous to the digestive system. Different types of anxiety disorders can result in various physical or psychological symptoms, such as muscle tension, headaches, and mood disorders. Long-term anxiety can lead to persistent physical distress that seriously affects your health if left untreated. Anxiety can affect bodily systems in the following ways:
Anxiety can have adverse effects on the cardiovascular system, including:
- Increased heart rate – When you feel anxious, your body experiences a rush of adrenaline which causes your heart to beat faster. This can be dangerous for those with heart conditions or high blood pressure.
- Increased blood pressure – Adrenaline also causes blood vessels to constrict which increases blood pressure. This can strain the heart and increase the risk of hypertension or stroke over time.
- Chest pain – The feeling of a tight, squeezing sensation in the chest can be a symptom of anxiety, but it can also mimic the feeling of a heart attack. If chest pain is severe or persistent, it’s essential to see a doctor immediately to rule out any serious heart issues.
Anxiety symptoms may also include sweating and nausea caused by rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, and tense muscles.
Anxiety can affect the respiratory system in the following ways:
- Rapid, shallow breathing – While experiencing anxiety, people often breathe quickly and shallowly. This type of breathing, hyperventilation, can lead to lightheadedness and fainting.
- Chest tightness – Anxiety can cause discomfort and tightness in the chest, worsening breathing difficulties. This sensation can feel like an anxiety attack and increase panic, creating a vicious cycle.
- Difficulty taking deep breaths – When anxious, taking slow, deep breaths can feel difficult or impossible. This makes it harder to relax the body and mind.
Learning deep breathing techniques can help alleviate these issues. However, if you experience chest tightness, seeking medical care immediately can rule out the possibility of serious cardiovascular problems.
Anxiety can have a significant impact on the digestive system. For instance:
- Stress hormones released during anxiety can divert blood flow away from the digestive system, decreasing digestion efficiency.
- The nervous system and digestive system are closely linked, so feelings of anxiety can stimulate nerves in the gut and cause stomach pain, nausea, or diarrhea.
- Chronic anxiety may increase inflammation in the gut and alter the balance of bacteria, which can contribute to conditions like irritable bowel syndrome or acid reflux.
- Appetite changes are common, and people may experience a decreased desire to eat or increased cravings for unhealthy comfort foods.
Managing anxiety and stress levels can help improve digestive health and reduce unpleasant physical symptoms. Relaxation techniques, therapy, and medication are all options to explore for anxiety relief.
Brain and Nervous System
Anxiety is a normal part of life, but it can become overwhelming and severely impact the brain and nervous system. Anxiety causes the release of hormones such as cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine that act on the brain to increase alertness and arousal to prepare for potential danger or threat. This heightened state can cause physical symptoms such as:
- Increased heart rate
It may also cause mental symptoms such as:
- Racing thoughts
- Avoidance behaviors
- Difficulty concentrating
Prolonged anxiety can lead to hyperactivity of the sympathetic nervous system, making it difficult for the body to relax even when no danger exists. Anxiety can also affect other brain areas such as the hippocampus, which controls memory and learning. Chronic stress has been linked to shrinkage in this area which may lead to difficulty remembering details or recalling information.
Seek Treatment for an Anxiety Disorder at Insight Into Action Therapy
Anxiety can affect your body in various ways, leading to severe health problems if left untreated. If you notice anxiety causing physical symptoms and interfering with your daily life, getting help is crucial. Insight Into Action Therapy provides evidence-based anxiety treatment to help you learn coping strategies and relaxation techniques to control your anxiety. Our counselors can answer your questions and build a treatment plan based on your unique needs. Contact us today at 703.935.8544 or fill out our brief online form to start the journey toward better physical and mental health.