Weekly Wellness: Symptoms of Anxiety

1 year 2 weeks 2 days ago Tuesday, September 03 2019 Sep 3, 2019 Tuesday, September 03, 2019 12:42:00 PM CDT September 03, 2019 in Weekly Wellness
By: Amanda Barnes, KOMU 8 Wellness Coach
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COLUMBIA- The first day of school jitters. Isn't that what they were called? When I felt like everything in my brain was on fast-forward. My heart would be pounding (practically audibly) in chest. I would have to rub my palms across the thighs of my pants. Anxiety.

Fight or flight. That’s where all of this is coming from. Back when we were cavemen, we would have to be on high-alert and fight or flee to survive. Our worlds have evolved but our brains are still back there in the cave listening for the predator.

Feeling anxious is a totally normal emotion. Feeling nervous before a presentation or an interview or taking a test or making an important decision. And anxiety can present itself in one (or more) physical ways:

1. Your heart is racing. When you’re dealing with something stressful and your adrenal glands release hormones like adrenaline and cortisol, receptors in your heart react by speeding up your heartbeat. This enables you to pump more blood to your big muscles so you could theoretically flee or combat a threat.

2. You’re short of breath. Your blood circulates oxygen around your body. When your stress response boosts how quickly you’re sending blood around your body, your breathing might increase to provide you with more oxygen. If you breathe too quickly (hyperventilation), you can actually enhance physical anxiety symptoms because your oxygen/carbon dioxide balance gets out of whack.

3. You’re constantly exhausted. A persistent feeling of fatigue is a common sign of anxiety, according to the NIMH. Stress hormones can keep you on high alert, which can be physically draining.

4. You can’t fall asleep, stay asleep, are restless during the night, or wake up feeling drained. A person with anxiety might have a tough time falling asleep, staying asleep, or might have restless and unsatisfying sleep. Elevated levels of hormones like cortisol and adrenaline make it hard to get a good night’s sleep. To add insult to injury, sleep issues such as insomnia can make you more prone to anxiety, too, the Mayo Clinic explains.

5. Your muscles ache. Your muscles tense up as part of your stress response. Holding parts of your body so rigidly for prolonged periods can lead to pain. People with anxiety report feeling tight in their necks, backs, or shoulders. You might also feel muscle tension all the way up into your head, leading to headaches.

6. Your stomach is all sorts of messed up. People with anxiety may notice general stomach pain, constipation, diarrhea, or other kinds of GI distress. The gut-brain axis is a communication system between your brain and the enteric nervous system that governs your digestion.

7. Your palms are dripping sweat. When your sympathetic nervous system gets activated, it can influence the sweat glands basically all over your body. We all have sweat glands that can cause anxiety-induced perspiration.

8. You're shaky and easily startled. Shaking and trembling can be a byproduct of anxiety-induced hormone surges, according to the NIMH. Also, trying to anticipate unknown threats is a common feature of anxiety. Constantly being on guard has been linked with an increased “startle response.”

9. You have a hard time swallowing. Anxiety can cause some people to feel tightness in their throats or even like something is stuck in there, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. This is called globus sensation.

10. You come down with a lot of colds. Your immune system doesn’t function as well when your fight-or-flight response is operating for too long, according to the Mayo Clinic. This could mean that you’re more susceptible to issues such as the common cold.

There is a difference between anxiety and the experience of anxiety disorder(s), which can be much more serious. You should seek medical attention if:

  • You feel like you're worrying too much and it's interfering with your work, relationships or other parts of your life
  • Your fear, worry or anxiety is upsetting to you and difficult to control
  • You feel depressed, have trouble with alcohol or drug use, or have other mental health concerns along with anxiety
  • You think your anxiety could be linked to a physical health problem
  • You have suicidal thoughts or behaviors — if this is the case, seek emergency treatment immediately

(Source: https://www.self.com/story/physical-anxiety-symptoms)

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