Stress Management > Anxiety > How does Anxiety affect the body?

How does Anxiety affect the body?

Symptoms of Anxiety on the Body

The symptoms of anxiety overlap with the symptoms of stress and the long term consequences of anxiety, worry and fear of future events are the same processes as those seen in people suffering from stress.

People suffering from anxiety excessively worry about future situations. A person suffering from anxiety may play out hypothetical situations in their minds often only generating more anxiety.

By excessively worrying a series of changes occur throughout the body that prepares the body to deal with the threatening situation and thus arouses the fight, freeze or flight response.

Scientific examinataion of the mind-body interaction demonstrates that as mental states change, so too does the physiology of the body.

Patients who are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder may report increased number of headaches, dizziness or faintness as well as shortness of breath and heart palpitations. Anxiety often arouses pains and tightness in and around the chest and throat area.

Anxious individuals will report particular with difficulties swallowing, this may be connected with the phyical change that is instigated when anxious thoughts trigger panic attacks. Marked by extreme hyperventilation or over-breathing, panic attacks instigate a feedback loop in which the physical sensations create more anxiety. Finally, physical sensations associated with anxiety also include nausea, stomach pains or internal vibrations commonally known as 'butterflies'.

Long term effects of anxiety on the body

Excessive worry and anxiety can lead to cardiovascular problems such as high blood pressure and increased chance of stroke.

What can be done to address symptoms of Anxiety?

Therapies that fail to acknowledge that there is a fundamental connection between the mind (thoughts and emotions) and the body will not only fail to address the cause of anxiety, but more importantly, its impact on the symptoms is likely to be superficial.

Therapies such as Mindfulness meditation, which encourage a practitioner to purposefully attend to a present moments thoughts, emotions and sensations helps stop the self-perpetuating cycle of anxiety.