Return To Normal Gradually
If youre struggling, its ok to slow down and limit the things that might be making your anxiety worse. Write a list of activities which might be triggering for you, starting with the easiest before working your way up to doing the activities which might feel most frightening.
Over time, re-introduce these activities. Reward yourself as you do, but dont give yourself a hard time if some days are more difficult than others.
How Anxiety Affects Your Body
Anxiety brings about psychological and physical symptomsboth of which can be overwhelming. Anticipating future threats, the body gears up for a fight-or-flight moment. The brain activates the heart, lungs, and muscles so you’ll be ready to engage or flee. With that, the heart beats faster, you begin to sweat, and your muscles tense, among other involuntary responses.
Anxiety disorders are characterized by persistent and intense physical symptoms. Considering these reactions is especially important when diagnosing anxiety disorders.
In fact, to meet the formal criteria for generalized anxiety disorder , for example, anxiety must be associated with multiple physical symptoms. In children, the presence of even one of these symptoms is sufficient for a diagnosis to be made.
The Many Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety
Anxiety causes long term stress, and that stress can lead to a host of physical anxiety symptoms. In some cases it may be just some mild stomach discomfort. In other cases it can be severe enough to land people in the hospital.
Everyone experiences anxiety symptoms differently, and the symptoms may vary depending on severity and type.
There are both common anxiety symptoms and uncommon anxiety symptoms. Most people with anxiety experience varying symptoms simply because everyone has different health, different bodies, different nutrition, and different reactions. One person may experience anxiety of the exact same severity as someone else in completely different ways.
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Check If You Have Health Anxiety
You may have health anxiety if you:
- constantly worry about your health
- frequently check your body for signs of illness, such as lumps, tingling or pain
- are always asking people for reassurance that you’re not ill
- worry that a doctor or medical tests may have missed something
- obsessively look at health information on the internet or in the media
- avoid anything to do with serious illness, such as medical TV programmes
- act as if you were ill
Anxiety itself can cause symptoms like headaches or a racing heartbeat, and you may mistake these for signs of illness.
How K Health Can Help
Anxiety and depression are among the most under-reported and under-treated diseases in America. Nearly 20% of adults in the US suffer from mental health illness and fewer than half receive treatment. Our mission is to increase access to treatment for those suffering in silence.
You can start controlling your anxiety and depression and get access to the treatment you need with K Health. Starting at $49/month get prescriptions for mental health medications plus unlimited doctor visits through the K Health app.
Start your free assessment to see if youre eligible.
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Other Issues With Physical Sensations And Anxiety
Anxiety also causes other issues with physical symptoms – namely that it makes normal sensations more pronounced.
Your body experiences various discomforts all the time. Those that do not experience anxiety often shrug them off – or may not notice them at all. To those without anxiety, they’re just sensations like any other.
But those with anxiety, especially health anxiety and panic attacks, often feel these same physical sensations more strongly. They become too in-tune with their own body, and so the sensations feel stronger and trigger more worry and concern. Objectively the experience may be no different to someone without anxiety, but subjectively it can feel much worse because your mind notices each and every one.
So not only are there numerous physical symptoms of anxiety – there may also be more pronounced non-anxiety issues as well.
Can Stress Cause High Blood Pressure
Just like anxiety, stress can be a part of everyday life that can affect your blood pressure. Similar to anxiety, stress triggers certain changes that can lead to hypertension.
Stress puts your body in a fight or flight mode and releases hormones that raise your blood pressure. These changes are temporary but can still damage your health.
On its own, stress is unlikely to cause long-term hypertension. A fight or flight response can be helpful during short periods of time, but it shouldnt happen every day. However, chronic high stress is an important risk factor for primary hypertension. Managing stress is an important part of hypertension treatment.
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Are There Tests That Diagnose Anxiety
A single test cant diagnose anxiety. Instead, an anxiety diagnosis requires a lengthy process of physical examinations, mental health tests, and psychological questionnaires.
Some doctors or healthcare professionals may conduct a physical exam, including blood or urine tests to rule out underlying medical conditions that could contribute to the symptoms youre experiencing.
Several anxiety tests and scales are also used to help a doctor assess the level of anxiety youre experiencing. Reach about each of these tests.
Once youve received a diagnosis of anxiety, you can explore treatment options with a doctor.
But treatment can help you overcome the symptoms and lead a more manageable day-to-day life.
Treatment for anxiety falls into three categories:
- Psychotherapy. Therapy can include cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure response prevention.
- Complemental health techniques. Mindfulness, yoga, and self-management strategies such as stress management are ways to treat your anxiety using alternative methods.
- Medication. Doctors prescribe antianxiety and antidepressant drugs.
Meeting with a therapist or psychologist can help you learn tools to use and strategies to cope with stress when it occurs.
The Mental Health Resources page can provide tips on finding a psychiatrist, or a doctor who specializes in mental health, to fit your needs.
Some other commonly used medications include:
Understand The Connection Between Your Mind And Body
Your mind is a powerful thing. The more you focus on something, the more intense and present and real it seems. To test it, try this simple exercise: take on a standing position and close your eyes. Imagine theres a huge magnet behind you pulling you back. Notice how your body sways back. Now, imagine that the magnet is your thoughts telling you the symptoms youre experiencing indicate a health problem. Your body then responds by exacerbating those symptoms, just like it would let a magnet pull it back.
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What Are The Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety
‘When you are put into an anxiety-provoking situation, an automatic chain of events begins, often known as the ‘fight or flight’ response. This response happens without us thinking about it because it is triggered by the part of our nervous system whose job it is to control our automatic functions . This part of our nervous system is called the ‘autonomic system’ and is split into two components: the parasympathetic and the sympathetic systems. These work opposite each other and only one can dominate at a time. When we are in any situation that causes us anxiety, our sympathetic system starts to dominate and the ‘fight or flight’ reaction begins . ‘
It is important to remember that everyone experiences anxiety differently. An individual may feel all or none of the following symptoms or combination of a few. There can also be more unique physical symptoms that may not be listed here. Here are 13 common physical symptoms of anxiety…
What Are The Symptoms Of Health Anxiety
If you have illness anxiety disorder, you may experience the following:
- Preoccupation about getting or having an illness.
- Lack of symptoms or mild symptoms.
- Anxiety thats disproportionate to symptoms or risk of illness.
- Hypervigilance about health and repeated checking for symptoms.
- Avoidance of medical care due to anxiety or frequently seeking medical care, despite repeated reassurance.
If you have somatic symptom disorder, you may experience the following:
- One or more persistent physical symptoms that cause distress and interfere with functioning.
- Excessive anxiety about health and symptoms or excessive time spent thinking of symptoms or seeking medical care.
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Excretory And Digestive Systems
Anxiety also affects your excretory and digestive systems. You may have stomachaches, nausea, diarrhea, and other digestive issues. Loss of appetite can also occur.
There may be a connection between anxiety disorders and the development of irritable bowel syndrome after a bowel infection. IBS can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.
Treatment Options For Anxiety
Whether youre experiencing occasional anxiety or frequent panic attacks, mental health treatment can help with anxiety disorders. Although anxiety disorders are highly treatable, only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Over time, chronic anxiety can have a severe impact on your physical health. But even if anxiety symptoms dont interfere with daily activities, it never hurts to check in with your therapist or healthcare provider.
The best course of treatment will depend on your specific anxiety symptoms, but approaches to treatment include:
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Tips For Managing Health Anxiety
People with health anxiety find themselves worrying a lot about getting ill, or that they might already be ill. In particular, they often have concerns about any physical symptoms they have and what they might mean. Anxiety is a natural response to a threat, or to something we believe is a threat â so itâs no surprise that the coronavirus outbreak has led some peopleâs health anxiety to get worse. Itâs also caused others whoâve never had it before to start experiencing problems.
If you have health anxiety, you could be having a lot of negative or scary thoughts at the moment â for example, âeveryone I care about is going to get illâ. You might notice that youâre constantly searching online for more information about the illness and the latest statistics. Anxiety can also have physical effects, such as a racing heart or nausea.
Here are five tips put together by Shazna Khanom, CBT therapist and UK Clinical Director with ieso, to help you manage your health anxiety symptoms.
1) Acknowledge how youâre feeling.
Thereâs no right or wrong way to feel at the moment. The simple act of naming the emotions and feelings youâre experiencing is a really effective first step to reducing their intensity.
2) Avoid health-related news.
3) Stop Googling your symptoms.
4) Manage unhelpful thoughts.
5) Maintain as normal a routine as you can.
Uncommon Anxiety Symptoms And Rare Anxiety Symptoms
Some symptoms of anxiety are much less common, and some physical anxiety symptoms are rare. These symptoms may also be more common in those with specific types of anxiety. For example, those with panic attacks and post traumatic stress disorder are more likely to experience hyperventilation, and hyperventilation can lead to a host of additional anxiety symptoms, including:
- Chest Pains
- Tingling or Weakness in the Extremities
- Finger Cramps
Hyperventilation symptoms are NOT rare. They are actually extremely common. But they are more common in some types of anxiety than others. Furthermore there are many other uncommon and rare anxiety symptoms, because anxiety causes stress, and stress can change your body in unusual ways. Some uncommon symptoms include:
- Skin rashes/itching
- Sudden, Urgent Need to Urinate
- Eye Pain/Strain/Vision Issues
One of the most interesting, and unfortunate issues with anxiety is that there’s no way to know exactly how stress will affect you. Stress can affect your organs, your hormones, your nutrition, and more.
For example, it’s possible for anxiety and stress to cause other disorders as well, like anemia. Stress may also cause other mental health conditions as well, especially depression. Anxiety is much more complex than people give it credit for, and may be related to numerous physical issues that others assume are related to physical health.
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Finding Treatment For Health Anxiety
Like other anxiety disorders, health anxiety can become debilitating. When your health worries begin to interfere with your life, its time to seek help from a mental health professional.
At High Focus Centers, we understand that every patients needs are different. Our team of mental health experts uses evidence-based treatment strategies, like mindfulness-based cognitive therapy and cognitive defusion techniques, to help create a custom program to meet your needs. Additionally, our teletherapy services allow you to receive counseling and therapy from the comfort of your own home.
If you or a family member is struggling with health anxiety, reach out to our team today. Were here to help you on your path to recovery.
How To Deal With Health Anxiety
Health anxiety can have a debilitating effect on your wellbeing and quality of life. For some, it will be so bad that they might not want to engage in normal everyday activities for fear of catching an illness or hurting themselves. If youre experiencing symptoms of health anxiety, there are a number of anxiety coping strategies you can adopt to manage your negative thoughts and help you continue to function normally.
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Other Ways To Access Cbt
You can refer yourself directly to an NHS psychological therapies service without a referral from a GP.
If you can afford it, you can choose to pay for your therapy privately. The cost of private therapy sessions varies, but it’s usually £40 to £100 per session.
The British Association for Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies keeps a register of all accredited therapists in the UK and The British Psychological Society has a directory of chartered psychologists, some of whom specialise in CBT.
Other Effects Of Anxiety
Anxiety symptoms can last for a long time, or come and go. You might find you have difficulty with day-to-day parts of your life, including:
- looking after yourself
- trying new things
- simply enjoying your leisure time.
In some cases anxiety can have a serious impact on your ability to work. See our pages on how to be mentally healthy at work for information on how to cope. Our legal pages on discrimination at work can provide information about your rights in the workplace.
If you drive you may have to tell the DVLA if you have an anxiety disorder. For information on your right to drive, including when and how to contact the DVLA, see our legal pages on fitness to drive.
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Try A Guided Meditation
You can find those on YouTube, some of which are specially designed for people struggling with health anxiety. Guided meditation can help you reduce anxiety and ease the impact of some physical symptoms simultaneously. Once youve gotten used to this practice, you can further learn to sit with uncomfortable sensations by focussing on your breathing and accepting them without judgement. Try to simply observe or even welcome the sensations as if you were a fly on the wall. Notice how you can feel even a negative sensation or thought and then redirect your attention to a more comfortable feeling .
How To Calm Anxiety
Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to get anxiety under control.
Leading a healthier lifestyle can help manage anxiety. Improving the quality of your sleep, eating a healthy and balanced diet, and exercising regularly are all great tools to treat anxiety.
Relaxation techniques also help keep anxiety under control. There are many different strategies you can try, such as yoga, meditation, aromatherapy, journaling, deep breathing techniques, and mindfulness. Health tips that work for someone else may not work for you. Its important to try different things until you find a strategy that works best.
You should seek medical assistance if you have severe or recurrent symptoms of anxiety. Uncontrollable and debilitating worrying can be a sign of an anxiety disorder. This is different from occasional worrying or everyday stress.
According to experts, generalized anxiety disorder causes persistent anxiety symptoms that can interfere with your work, studying, and even personal life.
In some cases, treating an anxiety disorder requires both lifestyle changes and medications. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are often prescribed to get severe symptoms under control, and psychological therapy can lead to enduring relief.
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Read About Body Sensations
Its normal to experience symptoms that seem off occasionally. You arent a machine after all. Our bodies have so many different functions its impossible to expect them to be perfect. Try to read more on body sensations and bodily functions to get used to the idea that not every new symptom equals a new problem. For example, you might experience stomach pain after eating food you arent used to or muscle pain after sleeping in an awkward position.
Why Does Health Anxiety Cause Physical Symptoms
When you worry about your health, you begin to monitor suspicious symptoms even if they dont indicate theres something wrong. If you focus on something you feel strongly about, your mind becomes preoccupied with it. For example, if youre trying for a baby, you might feel like youre suddenly surrounded by families with children. If you break up with a partner, you might find that you notice couples everywhere. Moreover, the more you worry about something, the more your flight-or-fight response is activated, causing stress hormones levels to rise in your body and resulting in physical symptoms.
Health anxiety can cause physical symptoms such as:
Feeling lightheaded, dizzy or jittery
Even though the symptoms are real, the preoccupation with them is often exaggerated and might cause them to persist, further fuelling your anxiety.
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