Anxiety and panic disorders affect over 4 million adult Americans each year, and most people experience a combination of physical and emotional symptoms. In some people, the physical symptoms can be so severe that they lead to constant panic attacks and other problems. Physical symptoms can occur suddenly, or be a part of the person’s lifestyle if the anxiety disorder has been prevalent for an extended period of time.
Almost all anxiety disorders are associated with a specific set of physical symptoms, so identifying these symptoms and experiences is necessary when considering treatment. In many cases, the mental health professional will ask the sufferer to keep track of when they experience these symptoms, and how severe they are. This can help to identify exactly what may be causing the negative experiences, and help the doctor create an effective treatment plan.
According to WebMD.com, many people experience depression and other problems that can cause additional physical symptoms. Some of the most common physical symptoms associated with anxiety disorders include:
1. Stomach upset or nausea. Many people who have an anxiety disorder feel nauseous after a meal, or at various intervals throughout the day. This gastrointestinal disturbance is often associated with the central nervous system being out of balance.
2. Headaches or migraines. Constant tension and worry can take its toll physically in the form of headaches or migraines. People suffering from anxiety disorders often experience frequent headaches or intense migraines that can be crippling.
3. Shortness of breath. The fear response that is triggered during a panic or anxiety attack often causes a shortness of breath because the body is pushed into “fight or flight” mode. This can cause chest pains and heart problems, and can also make it difficult to focus or concentrate.
4. Insomnia. Many people suffering from anxiety disorders cannot get to sleep easily, or find it difficult to rest. Insomnia is a common side effect of many anxiety disorders, and may be corrected with lifestyle changes, herbal supplements or medication.
5. Diarrhea or constipation. Anxiety disorders can cause several problems in the digestive system, and may trigger periods of diarrhea or constipation. People who suffer from extreme levels of anxiety often need to modify their diets to ensure they are eating the right types of foods. This can mean eating a steady diet of easily-digestible, well-balanced meals.
6. Excessive sweating. Heart palpitations and an elevated heart rate are linked to increased central nervous system activity, and this often triggers excessive sweating. People with anxiety disorders often experience bouts of excessive sweating, even when they are not facing any type of fearful situation or problem.
7. Muscle tension or twitches. Some people who suffer from anxiety disorders experience muscle tension, twitches or tremors because of an imbalance in the central nervous system. Muscle twitches themselves can cause anxiety when they occur in public, and can make the sufferer feel even more out of control.
There are several physical symptoms associated with anxiety disorders, and recognizing them is the first step towards finding an effective treatment. Most people can overcome their anxiety problems with a combination of therapy, natural treatments, lifestyle changes and/or medication.