You thought you knew everything about anxiety. After all, you have to face it every single day of your life, right?
There’s the constant worrying that’s always in the back of your head. Or the stress that you face when you experience a trigger.
Sure, you’ve noticed that anxiety can make your heart beat faster or your breathing to be more labored. And that when you get stressed you usually begin to sweat a little.
However, did you know the effects of anxiety on the body can actually much more severe than that?
We are discovering more about the body-mind connection all the time and, particularly, anxiety’s role in health problems and how it affects you.
Read on to learn about the consequences your physical health suffers due to anxiety.
1. Heart and Lungs at Risk
As mentioned above, when you get anxious your heart beats faster and your breathing rate increase. Yet, there are more serious effects of anxiety on the body when it comes to your cardiovascular and respiratory systems.
For one, experiencing anxiety long-term can increase your risk of developing heart disease as well as high blood pressure. The danger only gets worse if you already have heart disease, as you could be at a greater risk for a heart attack or stroke.
And for your respiratory system, anxiety can be a seriously complicating factor if you have COPD or asthma.
2. Brain in Distress
Another one of the effects of anxiety on the body is what happens to your brain.
When you feel anxious, your brain releases cortisol and adrenaline. Both are associated with stress. Over time, as you continue to be exposed to stress and anxiety, the greater the chances your brain has to release these hormones.
In turn, cortisol and adrenaline can put your physical health at greater risk. For example, you may get headaches more often or feel dizzy. Also, repeated exposure to these hormones can cause you to gain weight.
3. Digestive Tract on Fire
Do you have frequent stomachaches? Chronic anxiety could be the reason why you have digestive issues all the time.
Other, similar, symptoms associated with anxiety and your digestive tract include:
- Lack of desire to eat
Moreover, there is also the potential that anxiety could be the cause of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). And when your digestion suffers, your whole body experiences the effects.
4. Immune System in Turmoil
We are also learning that anxiety can have a big impact on the immune systems. With prolonged exposure to anxiety and stress, your body’s immune system gets turned upside down.
Typically, if you experience a brief period of anxiety, the immune system compensates, just like other systems in your body. Once the anxiety has passed, your body systems, including the immune system, return to their normal rate of function.
Yet, with chronic anxiety, this doesn’t happen. Your immune system doesn’t return to normal, and over time, this weakens it and makes you more likely to get sick. A weakened immune system, in turn, exposes your health to other problems, which your body must then deal with.
An interesting tidbit connected to issues with the immune system: vaccines may not be as effective as they could be if you have chronic anxiety.
5. Debilitating Headaches and Muscle Tension
Headaches and muscle tension are two other effects of anxiety on the body. Experiencing chronic headaches can cause your quality of life could suffer. In fact, it can become utterly debilitating. Also, your tolerance levels drop, causing you to suddenly snap at others or get angry very quickly.
With muscle tension, you constantly feel tight and sore. And that makes it hard to have fun or enjoy physical activity.
We are learning more all the time about anxiety’s consequences on physical health. Indeed, anxiety’s role in health problems and the effect of anxiety on the body exposes you to potentially serious medical issues. If you are concerned about what this means for you, consider participating in anxiety therapy to get help. Contact me if you would like to learn more.