Anxiety and the Effect on Your Body
Anxiety is far worse than simply being worried about something. It's a mental health disorder that can have far-reaching effects in a person's life.
41 percent of Canadians identify as a person who struggles with anxiety. It's also not just a mental health problem. You need to be aware of the physical effects of anxiety too. Read on to find out what they are.
What Are the Types of Anxiety?
Anxiety can often be short-lived in response to an external situation. Yet, it can also become a serious concern that you need to address. This manifests into different types of anxiety.
You might recognize social anxiety. Social settings such as parties can trigger feelings of anxiety or panic.
Other types of anxiety include separation anxiety. Adults can suffer this as well as children. This involves intense fear that something might happen to loved ones.
Panic attacks are a form of anxiety. When you experience recurring attacks, they become a panic disorder.
There is also Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). This happens when you cannot stop worrying about common things in your life. You may be anxious about ordinary things even when there is nothing to worry about.
How Does Anxiety Affect the Body?
You may be familiar with mental symptoms, such as a racing mind. Perhaps you're unable to focus. You can find common symptoms of anxiety in our guide here.
The physical impact on the body can include:
- Breathing Problems: Anxiety causes shallow or rapid breathing. This leads to carbon dioxide affecting the brain's blood supply.
- Lower Immune System: The excess of stress hormones in the body also dampens the immune system. This makes it difficult for your body to battle infections.
- Muscle Pain: Stress hormones also keep your body in the 'fight-or-flight' mode. This can lead to muscle aches and tension. Twenty percent of Canadians suffer from this kind of chronic pain.
- Digestive Issues: Anxiety can also affect the digestive system with diarrhea, bloating, cramps, and irritable bowel syndrome.
- Weight Gain: There is even a link between anxiety and weight gain. The stress hormone cortisol can lead to you having an increased appetite. It also boosts cravings for sweet or high-fat foods, which can result in weight gain.
What Are the Effects of Anxiety on Long-Term Health?
Left untreated, long-term anxiety can also lead to long-term effects on the body. This is because staying at a high level of anxiety keeps the body constantly full of stress hormones.
This can raise your blood pressure and increase the chances of heart disease. It also keeps your immune system lowered so you can't fight off illnesses.
The muscle aches can turn into chronic conditions like arthritis or fibromyalgia. Many of these conditions start out as a physical response to chronic stress.
Get the Support You Need
You can see how the physical effects of anxiety can be frightening and debilitating. Yet with the right support, you can overcome anxiety and heal its physical effects on your body.
If you're suffering from anxiety, Edmonton based psychologists Gary J. Meiers, Ph.D., Jo Ann Hammond-Meiers, Ph.D. and Associates Ltd are here to help. Contact us to schedule an appointment in the office or with an online session.