The Uncommon Panic Attack Symptom We Don’t Talk About
Anyone who has experienced a panic attack knows it is one of the most terrifying and physically exhausting things a person can experience. People talk about the common symptoms a lot: hyperventilating, chills, shaking, crying, disassociating, feeling like youre going to die, sweating, etc. But one of the less common symptoms is one of the absolute worst for me throwing up.
For me, this isnt nausea or anything. During my most severe panic attacks, I cant breathe. I still experience most of the other symptoms I shake a ton, I cry, I get chills and I hyperventilate what seems like 100 miles a minute. But because Im hyperventilating so much, I just cannot get enough air into my lungs. So, I end up choking and coughing, and then I feel it. That feeling right before you throw up. Your mouth starts to water a ton, and you can just feel it coming. And I run to the sink because its the closest thing to me, still shaking, and I vomit. And Im still coughing and hyperventilating, my legs are crumbling beneath me. And Im just talking to myself at this point, whispering, begging myself to hold on, Come on, come on girl, you got this. Breathe, you gotta breathe, come on, just breathe. It wont always be like this, I promise you. I promise you that youll get out of this. I promise. Come on, just breathe, please calm down. Please. Come on, please.
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Techniques For Calming Down
Here are some of the techniques clinicians teach anxious children, adapted from CBT and mindfulness training:
Deep breathing: Drawing in air by expanding the belly, sometimes called belly breathing, helps kids relax by slowing breathing, and reducing the heart rate, blood pressure and stress hormones. It can also help relax tense stomach muscles.Mindfulness exercises: Techniques such as focusing on whats around them, what they see and hear, can help pull children away from the anxiety and ground them in the moment.Coping statements: Children are taught to talk back to their worries, Ms. Greenspan explains. They can say, Im feeling scared and I can handle it. Or something along the lines of, Im bigger than my anxiety.Coping ahead: Children are taught that when you have to do something that makes you nervous, it helps to anticipate that you might have some discomfort, and plan what you can do to counteract it, knowing that if you can push through it, it will get easier.Acceptance: This involves acknowledging the discomfort without fighting it. Instead of trying to push the feeling away and get rid of it, Dr. Domingues explains, we ask you to hold onto it and tolerate it and get through it.
How Do Doctors Treat Diarrhea Caused By Stress
Though this link between stress and diarrhea has been fairly well established, it doesnt mean that one stressful incident will necessarily cause diarrhea. In some cases, stressful situations or chronic stress can lead directly to diarrhea, but stress can also be a trigger for some well known digestive problems like IBS, IBD, Crohns disease, or ulcerative colitis. It may also be that an ongoing anxiety disorder is behind ones anxious stomach issues.
If it can be determined that stress or anxiety are either causing diarrhea or triggering other digestive issues, the treatment options can then include a wide variety of methods and medications. Here are some common ways to effectively treat diarrhea as well as symptoms that may accompany diarrhea like abdominal pains, cramping, or bloating:
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The Dangers Of Vomiting From Anxiety
Occasional vomiting is not believed to be dangerous. Vomiting is a fairly natural event, and while it’s not ideal and may cause you to lose nutrients that you consumed earlier in the day, it’s also simply a purging of your stomach contents that, if treated successfully, shouldn’t have any lasting effects.
If you vomit too often, it can become dangerous. Eventually, you’ll damage your tooth enamel, and you may not be receiving the nutrition that you need from your diet thus leading to serious vitamin deficiencies. Also, regular vomiting from anxiety can cause further anxiety for those that are worried about embarrassment, and this fear may increase the frequency of anxiety attacks.
How Does Anxiety Affect Your Body
Anxiety affects your body in different ways that are defined as anxiety symptoms. When you feel overly anxious, many people feel a constriction in their pulmonary and respiratory systems, noticing an increase in their heart rate, a heaviness in the chest, or difficulty breathing. Others manifest their stress in their digestive system, with nausea, indigestion, stomach cramping, diarrhea, and sometimes vomiting. The severity of the discomfort can range.
Anxiety is a natural response to danger or a threat. It happens when the brain releases neurotransmitters to prepare the body for fight or flight. When some of these neurotransmitters get into the digestive tract, they upset the gut microbiome, and this can cause stomach symptoms that include nausea. During a moment of high anxiety, you might feel just a bit queasy, like that butterflies in your stomach feeling you might have before giving a public presentation or going on a job interview. This kind of nausea may be brief, while other instances of anxiety-related nausea can make you totally sick to your stomach. Your upset stomach churns so much that you have to make a dash for the bathroom, even reaching the point of dry heaving or vomiting.
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Dramatic Increase And Decrease In Sexual Feelings
The emotions involved in sexual responses can become increased or decreased during high anxiety and it is common for people to feel completely sexually unaware but also, less commonly, experience massively increased sexual thoughts and feelings. During flight or fight, the body becomes hyper-vigilant, meaning that senses become heightened. As the sex organs contain a massively higher quantity of nerve endings than other parts of the body, it is common for anxiety sufferers to have increased sensitivity. In some cases, this can cause sufferers to achieve orgasm through little or no sexual stimulation.
How Exactly Do Stress And Anxiety Cause Diarrhea
Its all due to the fact that your brain and your gut are in regular communication, says Alicia Clark, PsyD, author of Hack Your Anxiety. There is a powerful gut-brain connection thanks to a bundle of nerve fibers and pathways that connect your brain and gut, she explains. Those nerves can do a bunch of things, like help regulate your gut microbiome and lead to issues like stress diarrhea, she says.
Scientists believe that the relationship between your gut and brain is strong and even bi-directional, meaning poor gut health can influence anxiety and mood, and anxiety and mood can influence gut health, Clark says. Thats how you can end up feeling sick to your stomach when youre upset or develop diarrhea when youre stressed. Everything from butterflies, to nausea, to diarrhea can be powerfully impacted by your mental and emotional states, Clark says.
Usually, it’s more intense stress and anxiety that triggers diarrhea, as opposed to when you’re just feeling stressed because you have a mound of laundry that wont fold itself, says Tara Menon, MD, a gastroenterologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. When intense stress strikes, it can trigger your bodys natural fight or flight response, she adds.
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Youre Dealing With Ocular Migraines
An ocular migraine is typically caused by spasm of the blood vessels that feed the part of the brain responsible for processing vision, Vicente Diaz MD, MBA, a Yale Medicine ophthalmologist, tells Health. Symptoms include flashing lights, blind spots, and seeing patterns often with many jagged edges and corners, he explains.
An ocular migraine can occur with or without a headache, and typically will last under an hour, but in 20% of cases, it can last longer. He adds that the term ocular migraine can also refer to a retinal migraine, a rare condition which causes loss of vision in one eye only and can indicate problems with retinal blood flow.
What Can I Do About Ibs
There isnt a cure for IBS, but the symptoms can be managed. If you havent already done so, youll want to make an appointment with your primary care provider or PCP. Theyll check if your symptoms are due to more urgent health conditions, and if its really IBS, theyll work with you to improve your symptoms over time.
If you have another health issue, like anxiety, your provider can also advise you on how to treat both conditions at the same time. Managing IBS itself usually requires a combination of diet and lifestyle changes, and medications and sometimes, those can help your anxiety, too.
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How Is Diarrhea Defined
Technically, diarrhea is defined as having watery or loose stools three or more times a day, though the number of loose bowel movements can be different for different people. Most people experience short bouts of diarrhea that is known as acute diarrhea usually this occurs for a couple of days and then goes away on its own. This type is mild and isnt cause for concern. Persistent diarrhea, by contrast, lasts longer than two weeks but less than four, and it can start to be a concern in terms of dehydration and malabsorption . When diarrhea lasts four weeks or longer, it is considered chronic diarrhea, and it may be a symptom of a deeper problem like irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease .
Diarrhea is, of course, very common around the world, and it has been for all of recorded human history. In fact, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases estimates that some 179 million Americans get a case of acute diarrhea every year. In the United States, diarrhea is typically just a nuisance, but around the world 1 out of 9 child deaths can be attributed to a diarrhea-related disease. Most of the time, these deaths are ultimately because of poor sanitation or unsafe water.
So What If The Quick Tricks Didnt Work
You know how we talked about physical symptoms coming before the psychological? Well, there may be a condition for that. Cases of irritable bowel syndrome , which you may have seen in countless TV ads, have been increasing.
While not every stomach issue is IBS, chronically coping with diarrhea thats linked to some form of mental distress could definitely indicate a condition is at the root of the problem.
Experts arent sure exactly what causes IBS which can cause a lot of the issues related to anxiety diarrhea but stress and anxiety are known triggers. In fact, IBS commonly co-occurs with anxiety and depression .
There are also some theories suggesting that people who develop IBS may have overly sensitive colons, which increases the chance of GI symptoms from specific foods or emotional experiences.
So again, youre very likely not imagining things if you feel like your anxiety goes off the charts and then your gut follows suit .
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The Concerning Symptoms Of Anxiety And The Anxiety Loop
When stress hits and your heart rate increases, your breathing quickens or you start trembling, it can be alarming. So alarming that, in some cases, you might even feel anxiety about your anxiety symptoms. This can lead to a worsening of the anxiety you’re already feeling.
When anxiety hits, try to calm yourself with these tips:
- Take deep, controlled breaths
- Close your eyes and try to clear your mind
- Release tension from your body by relaxing
- Accept your anxiety, challenge the validity of your concern and try to shift your focus
If your symptoms become severe, including chest pain and/or shortness of breath, seek immediate medical attention at an emergency room even if you think it’s related to anxiety.
And, if you’re experiencing general anxiety more frequently than usual, consider talking to your doctor or finding a mental health provider especially if it’s disrupting your day-to-day life. He or she can help you understand why anxiety happens and what to do about it.
When To See A Medical Healthcare Provider
Even if you are fairly certain that stress is the culprit, you should discuss any unusual physical complaint with your healthcare provider to ensure that no other disease process is present and contributing to the problem. You should seek immediate medical attention should you experience any of the following:
- Fever over 102 F or fever that lasts more than three days
- Rectal bleeding
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Can Stress Trigger Diarrhea
Yes! Stress activates the stress response, which can affect the digestive system in many ways, including:
- Increases hydrochloric acid to speed up processing the food already in the digestive system, and
- Increases the urgency to urinate and vacate the bowels.
Consequently, stress can cause episodes of diarrhea.
Psychosomatic Stress Can Be Managed
Often when our brains get overloaded, the stress can manifest physically. The stress you feel from the havoc in your brain sends signals throughout your whole body, eventually reaching your stomach and can cause nausea. The good news is, with the right help, you can overcome this condition. According to medically reviewed research, anxiety and anxiety-related disorders are among the most common mental health issues in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults. Therapy has proved a successful means to combat anxiety symptoms. While you wont be directly treating nausea itself, youll find that as your anxiety subsides, so will its physical manifestations.
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What Are Nocturnal Panic Attacks
A nocturnal panic attack is a panic attack that occurs while a person is asleep. Nocturnal panic attacks is scary and upsetting for the person to experience because they are not well known, nor are they typically discussed by professionals unless brought up by a patient. Even though they are not often spoken about, nocturnal panic attacks are fairly common, especially among those who have severe or chronic anxiety conditions, panic disorder, or posttraumatic stress disorder.
A panic attack can be very upsetting for a person because they are scary and sometimes painful. People who experience panic attacks often do not understand what triggered their panic attacks and feel anxious about not knowing when their next one will occur. It can be quite stressful to not know when or how to expect the next panic attack, and having one while asleep increases the intensity of the reaction because you wake up in a panicked state and delirious from having your sleep cycle disturbed. It is scary to experience a nocturnal panic attack since there is no conscious stream of thought that could trigger the attack. However, it is professionals believe the process of a nocturnal panic attack is the same as a conscious panic attack. Since the brain remains active during sleep the activity leading up to a panic attack remains unchanged.
How To Get Rid Of Anxiety Diarrhea
When diarrhea is caused by other factors, addressing the cause can help alleviate episodes of diarrhea.
When diarrhea is caused by apprehensive behavior and the accompanying stress response changes, anxiety-triggered diarrhea will subside as the stress response ends.
Keep in mind, it can take up to 20 minutes or more for the body to recover from a major stress response. This is normal and shouldnt be a cause for concern.
When diarrhea is caused by hyperstimulation, reducing and eliminating hyperstimulation will reduce and eliminate hyperstimulation-caused diarrhea.
However, eliminating hyperstimulation can take much longer than most people think. Its common for symptoms of hyperstimulation to linger as long as the body is hyperstimulated.
Furthermore, hyperstimulation can cause multiple types of stomach and digestive problems, which can affect and aggravate each other.
For instance, IBS is often caused and aggravated by anxiety and hyperstimulation. IBS can also trigger episodes of diarrhea.
Nevertheless, eliminating hyperstimulation will eliminate its symptoms, including diarrhea.
You can reduce and eliminate hyperstimulation by:
- containing worry
- regular light to moderate exercise
- regular good sleep
- eating a diet of whole and natural foods.
Unfortunately, there are NO quick-fix cures for hyperstimulation or its symptoms. Eliminating hyperstimulation requires faithfully practicing your recovery strategies for a long enough period for the body to recover.
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Diarrhea From Anxiety: How Does It Happen
The Gut-brain axis is the two-way link between your gut and brain and is responsible for anxiety-related digestive issues such as diarrhea. The axis is the connection between your central nervous system and your guts nervous system. The guts nervous system controls the gastrointestinal tract processes and can also impact your emotions through its connection to your brain.
When you are anxious, or under stress, signals are sent from the brain to the gut. The gut responds in the form of physical issues such as nausea, constipation, and diarrhea. Since its a two-way connection, if you have an upset stomach or other digestive problems, anxiety and distress are common outcomes.
Foods To Eat In Anxiety And Pain Attacks
Following are some of the foods that improve anxiety and panic attacks
1. Dark Chocolate
Because of the high content of polyphenols and tryptophan, dark chocolates improves mood and improves blood flow to the brain.
Salmon contains a high amount of omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA. These omega-3 fatty acids improve the concentration of serotonin and dopamine.
3. Pumpkin Seeds
Pumpkin seeds are a good source of various minerals like zinc and magnesium. These minerals alter the functioning of the brain and manage anxiety.
Yogurt is a powerful probiotic that has a positive effect on brain health. Study indicates that increased use of yogurt in the diet helps in increased happiness.
Chamomile contains various flavonoids. These flavonoids are responsible for the anxiety-reducing effect of chamomile.
Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant and possesses anti-inflammatory properties. It is used in managing anxiety disorder.
7. Green Tea
Green tea contains L-theanine, which reduces stress and anxiety. It also reduces the level of cortisol. Cortisol is a hormone that is related to stress and anxiety.
Avocado contains various B vitamins that relieve stress. It also helps in the synthesis of various neurotransmitters.
Various foods cause anxiety and panic attacks. People experience anxiety after eating some types of food.
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