• Kelly Hurley

4 Ways Anxiety Affects You Physically and How Therapy Can Help

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions in the world. Some of the major emotional symptoms include an overwhelming sense of fear and hopelessness.

Immediate physical symptoms can include things like a rapid heart rate, sweating, or nausea. But, if you’re struggling with anxiety, it could cause even bigger physical issues to worry about.

Anxiety rarely goes away on its own. As a result, those physical problems can become worse over time, and you’ll end up needing greater medical attention.

So, how can anxiety affect you physically, and how might therapy be the solution you need?



1. Your Digestive System

Anxiety can take a huge toll on your digestive system, leading to cramping, nausea, an upset stomach, and even diarrhea. It can contribute to symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), or make existing IBS symptoms worse.

When you feel anxious, your brain causes a chemical imbalance within the digestive tract that can trigger feelings of nausea. It’s also important to remember that your body responds to feelings of anxiety by going into “preparedness” mode. Something like emptying your bowels quickly is your body getting ready for survival.

Unfortunately, that can come with cramps and pain and is never a pleasant experience.



2. Headaches

There is some confusion surrounding anxiety and headaches, and which one causes the other. Unfortunately, they’re often cyclical. Anxiety can cause you to be so worried and fearful that a headache occurs. On the other hand, a bad headache can make you feel more anxious.

There are several factors that can contribute to an anxiety headache, including:

  • Excess stress

  • Muscle tension

  • Changes in sleep patterns

If you’ve found that your anxiety is being triggered more frequently, you might also experience more headaches. Learning how to manage your symptoms of anxiety is one of the best ways to keep headaches at bay.



3. Sleep Problems

Sleep problems and mental health conditions often go hand-in-hand. Anxiety can contribute to so much fear that it feels impossible to get a good night’s sleep. Your mind and body might feel overly active. The fear you’re feeling not only makes it difficult to fall asleep, but it can wake you up periodically throughout the night.

Like headaches, this problem is cyclical. Anxiety can contribute to sleep problems, and a lack of sleep can fuel your anxiety. Getting your anxiety under control first will make it easier to get the rest your mind and body need.



4. Your Immunity and Wellbeing

Anxiety can wreak havoc on your immune system. When you’re constantly feeling anxious or stressed, your body never fully has time to recharge and get back to normal. As a result, it becomes weaker, and you’re more susceptible to getting sick.

If you find that you’re frequently getting colds or experiencing flu-like symptoms, it could be a direct cause of your anxiety.

Additionally, if you have any kind of chronic illness like lupus, fibromyalgia, or arthritis, anxiety could make your symptoms work because it weakens your ability to fight things off.

As you can see, the lasting physical effects of anxiety can be just as damaging as the mental issues it causes. The good news? You don’t have to keep struggling on your own.

Feel free to contact me for more information or to set up an appointment. Therapy is a fantastic way to get to the root of your anxiety. Understanding the underlying cause(s) is the first step toward effectively treating the disorder.

From there, you can learn how to manage it. When you’re able to do that, you’ll take back control of your life, rather than letting your anxiety have all the power.

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