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5 Ways Anxiety Affects Your Body

Something is wrong but I don’t exactly know what it is!


The reality is, over 40 million Americans suffer from anxiety disorders.”

Anxiety can affect many different aspects of your health. When people think about anxiety, the usual thoughts are fear, sweats, or hyperventilation. The reality is, there is a lot more things going on inside your body than you might think.  If you think you may have an anxiety disorder,  talk with a counselor or close friend to see if this is something you should discuss with your doctor.

Anxiety symptoms can vary greatly across individuals and in the way that the symptoms manifest. Some peoples symptoms can be mild and result from social situations and others may be much more dramatic and occur without any clear trigger. 


1. Vertigo

 Yes, the last time I heard someone say this word was when I was two cosmopolitans deep watching Sex in the City, but it is a very real thing! For those who have strong anxiety, you may begin to notice that you start having episodes of vertigo. Usually, when this happens you will begin to feel somewhat weightless and confused. You may begin to have the beginning effects of tunnel vision and you may stumble around a little. Don’t worry to much though, these can be quickly remedied by simply sitting down and slowing your breath!

The hardest part about managing vertigo from anxiety is recognizing that it is caused by anxiety! As soon as you realize that anxiety is the root of your problem, you can quickly learn to recognize your symptoms and this makes management far easier! If you think you are having symptoms of anxiety check out our other blog post, Top 4 Ways to Manage Your Anxiety. 


2. Hyperventilating

Very important to note, especially because for many it can be what causes vertigo, is hyperventilation. Hyper ventilation occurs when your heart rate increases in response to a stimulus, which in this case would be your hormones which are causing anxiety. As your heart rate increases, you begin to increase the speed at which you breath in and out without even noticing it. The more you breath, the more oxygen which enters your blood. This can lead to light headedness, faintness, weakness, and can lead to a panic attack if you don’t recognize it and slow down your breathing. 

If you think that you may be having issues with hyperventilation or difficulty controlling your breathing, check out our article on techniques you can use to ground yourself and naturally take control over your inner mind!


3. Difficulty Sleeping

This is one of the worst elements of anxiety problems because it tends to cause a feedback loop. Your anxiety prevents you from sleeping and your lack of sleep worsens your anxiety. If you are not careful or if you don’t get help, this can lead to very significant health complications or worsen mental health issues. Remember when you were a child and you were so excited to open your presents on Christmas morning that you just couldn’t seem to sleep? Well excitement pushes on the same internal levels as anxiety. As your sleep worsens, your anxiety may be heightened, leading to heart palpitations, sudden sweating, lack of coordination, foggy thinking, and absenteeism at work. If you are having issues sleeping, we highly recommend that you listen to a sleep mediation as you try to go to bed. If this does not seem to work, you can always try using melatonin. However, many people with anxiety issues find these methods to be ineffective. To help stay asleep you may use Z-Quil, a common over the counter sleep aide, to help you gain a restful night. If you are having extreme difficulty sleeping and it is negatively effecting your daily life, go and consult with a medical professional such as your local healthcare specialist. 


4. Weight Gain and High Blood Sugar 

Whenever our bodies undergo long periods of stress, we release various hormones in response. As cortisol and epinephrine levels rise and remain elevated due to our stress levels, our livers produce higher levels of glucose to respond to the increased need for energy in the body. Thus, our blood-sugar levels increase which can lead to long-term complications. While our bodies can cope with this increased blood sugar level in the short-term, if these levels don’t go down, you can face the risk of developing type-2 diabetes. Additionally, to cope with these higher stress levels, our minds look for quick means of gaining relief. Dopamine is one of the strongest reward chemicals which our bodies naturally produce and can be generated by eating foods high in sodium or sugars. That is why, when we are stressed, we may often cope by eating fried or sugary foods. Without addressing this issue by identifying these cravings as stress and finding alternative coping mechanisms, this increase in “junk food” can lead to increased weight gain and (in some cases) cause nutrient deficiencies which may worsen your anxiety. 


5. Increased Heart Rate

Finally, when the body senses higher levels of stress or anxiety, even if there is no real danger, your brain gets everything ready to either fight for your life or run away from the danger. To do this, your body ramps up its circulation to make sure that enough oxygen is provided to your muscles incase you need to run. When this happens, your heart starts pumping more blood at a faster rate. This is why many people who struggle with anxiety report that they sometimes feel their heart pounding in their ears or chest. If we don’t address these elevated heart issues, we face risks such as damage to the heart, brain, or kidneys. Furthermore, these elevated heart rates can be a significant issue for those who have cardiovascular issues. According to a study released by Harvard Medical School, those who have a heart condition and anxiety are twice as likely to suffer from a heart attack than those individuals who do not have anxiety. 

Here’s a quick video which breaks down some of these symptoms.