Anxiety is a difficult enemy, the root cause of which can be so difficult to identify. According to David Merrell, MD, Ph.D., a psychologist at Providence St. John’s Health Center in Sanda Monica, you may feel itchy, tired, restless, and just out of balance.
To confuse things further, physical symptoms usually pop up in addition to emotional symptoms. More often than not, until you get a proper diagnosis, you may feel like you have a cold, flu, Fighting allergies, or even a hangover.
Dr. Merrell says that the mental-physical connection is very strong, and what seems like a related mental and physical condition can actually be linked to a connected cycle. For example, anxiety can cause digestive problems, and those effects can, in turn, worsen your anxiety.
Until then, the issue has not been recognized and addressed. Here are some indications that your body is expressing anxiety in physical ways – and what you can do to make ASAP feel better.
1. Heart rate
Anxiety is part of the body’s internal alarm system that protects us from danger in the surrounding environment, according to Joseph Leno, Senior Psychologist at the Family Health Centers at NYU and Assistant Director of Medical Services for Ambulatory Behavior Clinical Services for Health. Informs for Langon Health.
A part of the brain called the amygdala that rings an alarm during a perceived threat and triggers a flurry of effects – such as an increase in the hormones cortisol and adrenaline to prepare us to run or fight.
2. Chills or sweating.
As part of the fight or flight response, you may experience a sudden change in temperature, says Dr. Merrill. This is because another part of the brain involved in anxiety is the hypothalamus, which regulates body heat.
Because of that, you could have chills, feel drenched in sweat, or, strangely, both at the same time. That effect could also come from the way muscles are activated during an anxiety response, he adds, as yet another way to prepare him to face threats. That is why you may have strange muscle aches along with hot or cold hot flashes.
3. Shortness of breath
Your heart and lungs work together to keep you strong, so when one is affected, the other is likely to be, too. If you’re experiencing a sudden increase in heart rate, that could reduce your oxygen consumption, and your lungs see it as a boost to fire, so they start working harder, says Dr. Merrill.
This is the reason why, in extreme anxiety, like a panic attack, you will not only have a fast heart rate, but also shortness of breath, and the advice with them is to try to implement deep breathing so that both of you can correct yourself. , he says.
Of course, if you have chest pains, symptoms don’t subside, or you feel worse after a few minutes, seek immediate medical attention.
4. Nausea or indigestion.
In addition to parts of the brain and certain hormones associated with anxiety, the central nervous system also plays a role in the stress response and Dr. Merrill notes that there are more nerve fibers in the intestine than anywhere else. in the body. So when you feel excited, you have those butterflies: it is your nervous system that responds to the stimulus.
Another hormone, serotonin, is also involved here, he adds. Most of your serotonin, the “happy chemical” that sends signals between nerve cells, is also found in your intestine, and when emotional distress occurs, it can alter nerve signaling and the serotonin response. The result? Belly problems. Any type of emotional imbalance like anxiety is likely to create stomach problems, such as nausea, indigestion, and upset stomach, he says.
5. Constipation or diarrhea.
As the body prepares to respond to a threat, it transports resources such as blood flow to what it considers necessary for short-term mobilization. What isn’t needed when you’re in the middle of a fight or running away from danger? Digestion.
As your blood flows to your muscles, vision, and ear to react to threats, your motility can change, says Dr. Merrill. That often causes constipation, but it can also turn in the other direction toward diarrhea. In some cases, you can alternate between the two. Related effects may include bloating, excessive gas, abdominal pain, and cramps.
6. Tingling, sharp pains, and tightness.
Because the central nervous system is connected to the peripheral nervous system, that means you are connected from head to toe, says Dr. Merrill, and when there is anxiety in the brain, it sends signals along with those connections. Just as your muscles, heart, and lungs are prepared for a threat, your nerves are activated to ensure that the rest of your body is also ready to jump or strike.
Because your nerves are activated, that can create an effect anywhere along with those nervous systems, says Dr. Merrill. You may have tingling in your fingers or toes, for example, or the hairs on your arms stand up like you’re afraid.
If a nerve suddenly fires, there may also be sharp pain or tightness, especially in areas where the nerves are in tighter clusters, such as the lower back, jaw, or neck.
How to deal with your anxiety symptoms
Right now, with orders to stay home and extreme economic uncertainty, part of the “new normal,” anxiety levels are very high, even for those who haven’t experienced much anxiety in the past, says Dr. Merrill.
Mindfulness-based practices can help, especially if they involve some form of physical movement that benefits both the body and the mind. He suggests yoga or tai chi, for example, because they incorporate breathing work into their practices.
In terms of treatment, Dr. Laino suggests talking to your healthcare provider about your symptoms and anxiety as a possible cause to make sure you get an accurate diagnosis from a trained professional. Even if you have an order to stay home, there are plenty of telehealth options right now, he adds, which means you can have an appointment and even get a prescription without going to the office.
Above all, take it seriously. Just because a symptom is related to anxiety doesn’t mean it should be ignored, he says. There are several medications and talking therapies that can help people suffering from acute, chronic, or post-traumatic anxiety.
Best of all, as your anxiety knots loosen, many of your physical problems are likely to begin to lessen as well.