Remember your first job interview? That churning stomach, breathlessness, choking sensation and rapidly beating heart. Yes! That was anxiety.
By definition, anxiety is the natural response of our body to the stress. It is a sense of apprehension. It is quite normal to feel anxious when you have to catch a bus, to take an exam or to address a crowd.
However, if you have excessive anxiety that never goes away, you have an anxiety disorder.
What is an anxiety disorder?
As mentioned earlier, being anxious is natural in the presence of any triggering factor. However, if the pressure of your anxiety is beyond your control, is persistent and is interfering with your routine, you have an anxiety disorder.
While having an anxiety disorder, one may be anxious without any reason.
What is the adrenaline rush?
Both of our kidneys have one adrenal gland on each. This gland secretes a hormone called adrenaline/epinephrine in response to stress. Adrenaline hormone prepares the body for fight or flight situations.
This causes the following physical changes
- A rise in blood pressure
- Rapid heartbeat
- Increased blood supply to the limbs.
- Decreased blood supply to the gastrointestinal tract
- Dilated pupils
This is how the primitive human beings used to tackle their stress with wild animals. Today, human beings have different stressors, but the response is still in the form of an adrenaline rush.
What are different anxiety disorders?
It is a part of several disorders
- Social anxiety disorder
- Separation anxiety
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Illness anxiety disorder (hypochondria)
What are the effects of anxiety on our body?
It would not be an exaggeration to say that anxiety harms the human body from head to toe.
1. Effect of anxiety on the central nervous system
When in stress, adrenaline hormone secretion is signalled by the hypothalamus. The adrenaline hormone generates a fight and flight response. The adrenaline rush prepares the body for the anticipated fear. When the stress is diminished, the hypothalamus signals all the organs to get back to the normal state.
However, if there is constant anxiety, the system never turns to normal. Therefore, a person may experience agitation, irritability, increased or suppressed hunger, lack of sleep and many other such problems.
2. Effect of anxiety on the endocrine system
Anxiety causes increased levels of stress hormones in the body. Persistent stimulation of endocrine system causes elevated levels of stress hormones. This in turn disturbs other hormones as well.
3. Effect of anxiety on the cardiovascular system
Anxiety makes the heart beat faster and pump blood with more force. Continuous increased pressure on the arteries causes hypertension. Hypertension leads to many other disorders like stroke, haemorrhage, arrhythmias etc.
Moreover, the constant pounding pulse and rapid pulse causes palpitations. It is a very disturbing situation.
4. Effect on the gastrointestinal system
Adrenaline causes the redirection of blood towards the limbs. So, the blood supply to the gastrointestinal tract is lowered. This causes disturbance indigestion and leads to:
- Acid peptic disease due to increased Gastric acid secretion
Stress is also linked with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.
5. Effect of anxiety on the urinary system
Anxiety causes frequent urination. Moreover, there are increased chances of frequent urinary tract infections.
6. How anxiety affects the reproductive system
Anxiety causes an increase in the release of testosterone. However, persistent stress causes a decrease in the male sex hormone (testosterone). This leads to erectile dysfunction and decreased libido.
Anxiety causes menstrual irregularities in females. Hence infertility can occur.
7. How the musculoskeletal system is affected by anxiety
Adrenaline hormone causes muscles to become tense. This happens to deal with stress. However, if the muscles remain tensed for a long time, it can lead to muscle spasm. It is a very painful condition leading to difficulty in mobilisation.
8. Anxiety and diabetes type-2
Anxiety causes an increase in levels of the cortisol hormone. It is a steroid hormone and increases the levels of glucose. Persistently high levels of cortisol can lead to increased blood glucose levels. this can lead to type -2 diabetes.
How to deal with anxiety
After reading the debilitating effects of anxiety, you must be thinking about the ways to overcome it. We are going to explain some easy tips to manage your anxiety.
1. Identify the triggering factors
It is of prime importance that you should know what specific stressors are there for your body. Try to eliminate them.
Physical activity increases the levels of the happy hormone (endorphins). So, hitting the gym would be a good idea to help ward off anxiety.
3. Use herbs
Certain herbs are also used to release stress. A cup of chamomile tea, green tea or peppermint tea can be helpful. Moreover, you can also use essential oils. Make sure that you know the correct method to use.
There are certain products like CBD buds that can be used in different ways to reduce anxiety.
4. Treat the physical symptoms
As we have described earlier, anxiety has a lot of physical manifestations. Identifying and treating your symptoms can stop the vicious stress cycle. For example, you may get your dyspepsia treated readily if you consult your doctor timely.
Furthermore, if you suffer from muscular pain you can apply CBD lip balm or some other balm for pain relief.
5. Get professional help if needed
If all the therapies and self-help tips fail, it is the time to seek help. Blurt it out to a professional psychologist. You will likely receive CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy). If needed, you will be referred to a psychiatrist for medicinal treatment.
The final words
It is true that in modern life, ever-increasing competition is leading towards stress and subsequent anxiety. However, always remember that your mental health matters a lot.
Try to eliminate your anxiety before it destroys you.
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