When someone experiences anxiety symptoms for the first time, it can be a confusing and scary experience. And even if you’ve struggled with anxiety for a long time, it often remains just as torturous.
Being familiar with the physical symptoms of anxiety is essential for several reasons. It helps to know the source of the overwhelming responses in your body.
Anxiety isn’t just in your mind. It’s also experienced in the body. This response is because fear, whether real or perceived, activates a part of the brain that’s responsible for protecting you.
When you feel afraid or threatened, you experience the three Fs: fight, flight, or freeze. A flood of biochemicals, including adrenaline, are released into your bloodstream. The physical symptoms you experience are your body’s way of trying to help you survive whatever it is that makes you feel afraid.
These biochemicals will affect most, if not all, of the organ systems in your body: circulatory, respiratory, excretory, nervous, digestive, skin, and muscle.
1. Racing, Pounding Heart
Anxiety often provokes an increased heart rate. You’ll notice it as your pulse quickens and your heart pounds. Your body is pumping more blood into your muscles to prepare for faster movement in response to threats.
It’s common for people who experience anxiety to believe they are experiencing heart problems. They often go to the emergency and are baffled to be told that they are experiencing an anxiety attack.
2. Shortness of Breath
Along with a racing heart comes shortness of breath during anxiety. This response is because the lungs are rushing to move more oxygen into the lungs as it prepares to fight or flee.
3. Flushed Face
When you’re anxious, your face will often become flushed and red. This response is a sign of increased blood flow, as well.
The body often sweats when under stress or pressure. It’s no different with anxiety. This response can be a result of your increased heart rate and breathing, as well.
Dizziness is another physical symptom that can be created by increased blood flow and breathing rate from anxiety.
In response to fear, you also may experience a sense of nausea. This response is also due to biochemicals like adrenaline. When they reach the digestive system, the stomach and intestines’ natural balance is upset and causes you to feel ill.
Because your body wants to direct its resources to survival when afraid, it often causes diarrhea. This response is because the body doesn’t want to “waste” resources on digestion when it believes more important things (like protection) are a priority. So food is expelled quickly to bypass the intense digestion process. Again, adrenaline plays a role in this.
8. Muscle Tension
Your body holds anxiety in the muscles as well. It’s your body’s way of being prepared to fight or run away from perceived danger. But muscle tension can hurt and leave you with aches and pains.
9. Trembling and Shaking
Again, a sense of fear manifests itself in several physical reactions. The surge of adrenaline in your body can also create uncontrollable trembling, especially when you are extremely anxious or frightened. This response is also related to muscle tension.
It’s probably no surprise that insomnia can be a physical symptom of anxiety. After all, if your entire body is on high alert, it’s going to be hard to go asleep.
Various Responses to Anxiety
It’s also important to note that your physical symptoms of anxiety can vary based on what type of anxiety you experience. Short term anxiety often produces much more intense physiological responses. With long term anxiety, the effects may be more subtle but create dangerous health threats with time: immune disorders, high blood pressure, chronic insomnia, digestive disorders.
Anxiety Therapist in Columbus
No matter what kind of anxiety you’re experiencing, it’s crucial to seek help. A counselor can guide you toward healing and effective coping techniques. Psychotherapy can help you process your anxiety and work on ways to manage your physical symptoms. Blue Boat Counseling offers online therapy for those struggling with anxiety living in the state of Ohio. Contact us today to schedule an appointment with one of our Columbus therapists. We’re here to offer support in recognizing anxiety symptoms and overcoming anxiety in your life.