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.
How To Stop A Panic Attack: 5 Things You Can Do Right Now
As symptoms begin to peak during a panic attack it can feel like the experience will never end. While you might think theres nothing you can do except wait it out, there are some techniques you can practice to reduce the severity of your symptoms and distract your mind. See our in-depth article on how to stop a panic attack.
No matter what your plan is, having one in place is the most important thing. You can think of your plan as your go-to set of instructions for yourself when you feel a panic attack coming on. One plan might be to take yourself out of your current environment, sit down, and call a friend or family member that can help distract you from your symptoms and help you to calm down. Then you can incorporate the following techniques.
Shortness of breath is a common symptom of panic attacks that can make you feel frantic and out of control. Acknowledge that your shortness of breath is a symptom of a panic attack and that this is only temporary. Then begin by taking a deep breath in for a total of four seconds, hold for a second, and release it for a total of four seconds. Keep repeating this pattern until your breathing becomes controlled and steady. Focusing on the count of four not only will prevent you from hyperventilating, but it can also help to stop other symptoms in their tracks.
Dizziness As A Trigger
Dizziness can be a frightening symptom, especially because it is associated with dangerous conditions and can make you feel like you’re going to faint.
Dizziness is actually a fairly common trigger of panic attacks. A person is walking along, starts to feel dizzy, and that dizziness then triggers a cascade of symptoms that ultimately become a full blown panic attack.
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What Happens Inside Your Body
Your bodyâs âfight or flightâ response is behind these intense physical symptoms. Normally when you encounter a threat — whether itâs a grizzly bear or a swerving car — your nervous system springs into action. The hormone adrenaline floods into your bloodstream, putting your body on high alert. Your heartbeat quickens, which sends more blood to your muscles. Your breathing becomes fast and shallow, so you can take in more oxygen. Your blood sugar spikes. Your senses get sharper.
All of these changes — which happen in an instant — give you the energy you need to confront a dangerous situation or get out of harmâs way quickly.
With random panic attacks, your body goes on alert for no reason. Researchers donât know exactly what triggers them. But the physical effects are real: During a panic attack, the adrenaline levels in the body can spike by 2 1/2 times or more.
Panic attacks may not come as unexpectedly as they seem. The physical changes may start about an hour before an attack. In one study, people with panic disorder wore devices that tracked their heart activity, sweating, and breathing. The results showed lower-than-normal levels of carbon dioxide, a sign of rapid, deep breathing that can leave you breathless, as early as about 45 minutes before the panic attack.
Panic Attack Treatment And Prevention
Cognitive behavioral therapy and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors are the first-line, evidence-based treatments for anxiety. These treatments can be used separately or in combination.
Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on identifying and addressing anxiety-related thoughts and behaviors. It often involves meeting with a therapist weekly and practicing hands-on strategies each day to manage anxious thoughts and behaviors.
SSRIs are taken daily and can help adjust levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain, which can affect mood and anxiety. There are many types of SSRIs. A medication provider will determine which one is best for you and will meet with you regularly to monitor benefits and side effects.
Duval doesnt recommend avoidance strategies or using substances such as drugs or alcohol to cope with or abstain from anxious feelings or panic attacks. Incorrect use of substances, including prescriptions, can interfere with relationships and work.
It is a way to mask or avoid the anxiety were not giving ourselves ways to manage it that are going to decrease it long term, Duval says.
Instead, she suggests finding strategies to manage the attacks or reduce the anxiety around having a panic attack.
The challenge is that oftentimes the more we try to prevent something, the more it will happen, Duval says. A big part of managing anxiety and panic is finding ways to face it.
When To Use Medication
Sometimes, panic attacks cannot be managed entirely alone. If panic attacks become an ongoing concern or they cause significant anxiety or fear about future panic attacks, it might be necessary to see a therapist or doctor.
Types of therapeutic interventions that have been shown to have the best outcomes include cognitive behavioral therapy and humanistic therapy. CBT involves understanding the relationship between thoughts and behaviors and working toward changing negative or distorted thoughts to more positive, helpful ones.
One study found CBT to be between 85% and 90% successful in treating panic disorders.
Humanistic therapy is a type of intervention that helps people make rational decisions and accept responsibility for themselves. Common humanistic therapy approaches include client-centered therapy, gestalt therapy, and existential therapy.
If therapy alone is not effective in treating panic attacks, as may be the case in severe cases of panic disorders, medications may be recommended and prescribed by a psychiatrist. Commonly prescribed medications that have been shown to be effective in helping with panic disorders include antidepressants and benzodiazepines.
Panic Disorder Symptoms Causes And Effects
If you are suddenly experiencing an episode of intense anxiety and fear that sets off physical reactions with no apparent reason, you have an episode called a panic attack. Multiple occurrences of this extremely common health issue are indicative of panic disorder, which can be very problematic and frightening. Constant fears of going crazy, having a heart attack or dying are just some examples of panicked thoughts that may disrupt your everyday activities.
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 6 million American adults have been diagnosed with panic disorder. With proper knowledge and finding the right treatment, you or someone you know who suffers from this disorder can overcome the symptoms and regain healthy living.
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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.
Mental And Physical Health
There is a strong connection between anxiety nausea and your mental and physical health. In short, severe anxiety can seriously impact your quality of life.
Anxiety and depression are classified as mental health disorders and they often go hand-in-hand. When anxiety and depression exist together, it can be hard to determine if the anxiety caused the depression or vice versa. The Hope for Depression Research Foundation, an organization that focuses on medically reviewed research, describes depression as a brain disorder and a state of mind.
The National Institute of Mental Health makes the distinction between occasional anxiety as a response to stress and chronic anxiety that turns into generalized anxiety disorder , or an anxiety attack. Its common for people to experience anxiety and stress temporarily. By contrast, chronic anxiety may also be a stress response, but it can become an anxiety-related disorder if it doesnt go away or it worsens over time. Chronic anxiety will usually interfere with your work, school, family life, and other daily activities and it can seriously affect your quality of life.
People that live with anxiety disorders of all types can realize positive long-term improvement when they get the proper medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment. As with any type of severe symptoms, its always best to speak with a trusted professional. You can reach out to your doctor or seek the help of a licensed therapist.
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Tips For Helping Someone With An Anxiety Disorder:
- Make no assumptionsask the person what they need.
- Be predictabledon’t surprise the person.
- Let the person with the disorder set the pace for recovery.
- Find something positive in every small step towards recovery.
- Don’t help the person avoid their fears.
- Maintain your own life so you don’t resent the person with the disorder.
- Don’t panic when the person with the disorder panics, but realize it’s natural to be concerned with them.
- Be patient and accepting, but don’t settle for the affected person being permanently disabled.
- Say encouraging words such as: “You can do it no matter how you feel. I am proud of you. Tell me what you need now. Breathe slow and low. Stay in the present. It’s not the place that’s bothering you, it’s the thought. I know that what you are feeling is painful, but it’s not dangerous. You are courageous.”
- Avoid saying things like: “Don’t be anxious. Let’s see if you can do this. You can fight this. What should we do next? Don’t be ridculous. You have to stay. Don’t be a coward.” These phrases tend to blame the individual for the anxiety.
Headaches And Panic Disorder
Most people experience headaches from time to time. However, research has shown that people diagnosed with panic disorder and other anxiety disorders are more likely to experience frequent headaches than the general population.
Many people with panic disorder will experience a headache right after having a panic attack.
Those with panic disorder have been found to suffer from more severe headaches and migraines. Research has also indicated that there are certain risk factors that influence the occurrence of panic disorder and headaches.
For instance, the incidences of headaches and migraines have been found to be even higher among female panic disorder sufferers. Those who have a co-occurring diagnosis of agoraphobia and/or depression also experience more frequent headaches and migraines.
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Chills Or Hot Flashes
Many people also report experiencing thermal sensations, including chills or hot flashes, during a panic attack. The physiological mechanisms behind this are not totally understood, although one theory is that this is also a result of the fight-or-flight response.
Although hot flashes are included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, or DSM-5, as symptoms of a panic attack, research shows that sometimes panic can actually be a response to a hot flash.
This may be the case for people who are in menopause, when hot flashes are often a result of hormone disruptions. Experiencing a sudden hot flash is uncomfortable and frightening, and may actually trigger a panic attack on its own.
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 won’t be directly treating nausea itself, you’ll find that as your anxiety subsides, so will its physical manifestations.
Can Panic Attacks Cause Vomiting
What To Expect If You Wake Up With Panic Attacks
If you wake up with a panic attack, its natural to feel very disoriented. The symptoms may seem overwhelming.
You may have difficulty knowing if youre dreaming or not. You may even think youre having a heart attack. Symptoms like chest pain arent uncommon.
Most panic attacks last no more than 10 minutes and symptoms will wane throughout that phase. If you wake up with a panic attack, you may be nearing the peak of the symptoms. Symptoms could ease from that point.
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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.
Am I Sick Or Is It Anxiety
Another side effect of anxiety is flu-like symptoms. Do you remember the description of the stretched elastic band? If you stretch the band too often or too fast, it loses its elasticity. This makes it harder to do its job, like keeping your hair in place or holding together a bunch of pens.
In the same way, anxiety causes your body to exert itself as a response to danger. But if you experience trauma, or youre over-stressed for a long time, your bodys new default is in danger mode.
Danger mode is exhausting for the body. It causes muscle tension, which brings aches and pain. It increases your breathing, which makes you short of breath. Anxiety also causes increased blood flow, which can make you dizzy and warm. All these symptoms can be mistaken for the flu.
Over time anxiety can cripple your immune system, causing you to feel sick and weak. This also makes it easier for viruses like the flu to attack your body.
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