Long-Term Effects of Anxiety

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I have mentioned the concept of a baseline level of anxiety in a couple of posts and how it has increased for many people since the pandemic. There have been many methods presented for how to relieve some of that anxiety, whether it be an acute attack, or reduction of the baseline levels. But what about how it takes a toll on you physically if you do nothing?

Deep breathing and meditation are some of the easiest ways to calm and quiet your mind. No additional accessories are needed. There is a relatively new, at least to me, necklace available to assist with anxiety and calming. I am excited to see the outcome of this product!

The Typical Anxiety Response

When we encounter stress and anxiety, our bodies respond with the “fight or flight” mode. This is meant to be a short lasting event, causing a higher heart rate with faster blood flow to our brains giving a rush of oxygen, in hopes of allowing concentration on the problem and the ability to deal with it.

As you can imagine, long-term and repeated stress responses can cause damaging emotional and physical reactions in your body. According to Medanta, the seven most common physical problems are as follows:

Breathing Problems

With anxiety, breathing becomes rapid, shallow and short. This can cause unhealthy patterns, such as hyperventilation. I imagine we have all experienced this at one time or another, having dizziness, tingling in our hands or feet and even fainting.

Asthma patients can also be adversely affected anxiety. Anyone with inflamed airways or COPD may end up hospitalized frequently due to stress or anxiety.

Gastrointestinal Disorders

Who hasn’t gotten a belly ache from being stressed? Anxiety can lead to chronic excretory and digestive issues. These may include stomach pain, bloating, cramping, diarrhea, IBS and vomiting.

Immune System

Frequent stress and anxiety doesn’t allow your body to get the rest it needs. It leaves your immune system vulnerable to illness and viral infections. It is possible that vaccinations may not be effective for you when you allow your body to become too worn down.

Heart Disease

As mentioned in the first part of this post, palpitations and fast breathing are considered normal responses during ‘fight or flight’ response incident. The persistent rush of stress hormones

at high levels can cause high blood pressure and heart disease or even a heart attack.

Muscle Tension and Chronic Pain

Frequent distress signals from your brain to prepare for a stress response makes your muscles contract. Constant muscle tension can lead to stiff, sore muscles and aches and pains that spread throughout your body. These can manifest in chronic conditions such as fibromyalgia and arthritis.

Memory Loss

Worrying constantly can impact your short-term memory. This can cause you to forget appointments, make mistakes and be unable to cope with a hectic schedule. If it happens with any regularity, it gets difficult to make important decisions. In turn, this leads to more anxiety!

Weight Gain

Anxiety and nervousness floods your body with adrenalin and cortisol. These hormones tend to give a lot of people a desire for sweets. That sugar intake causes a spike in blood sugar not sustainable, so when it crashes your body craves the sweet foods again. This roller-coaster of anxiety levels often leads to weight gain and obesity.

Is It Hopeless?

If you suffer with anxiety it doesn’t mean that you will have all the ailments I have outlined. You don’t have to live with any of them. Half of the battle is knowing what is lurking out there and you now have that tool.

None of these ailments are anything you want to have to fight. Dealing with anxiety is hard enough. Don’t shrug it off as no big deal. These are huge physiological side effects!



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