Anxiety disorders can occur at any stage of life, but usually begin in middle age and are more common in women.
Everyone has occasional anxiety, but chronic anxiety can reduce your quality of life. Although it may be most related to behavioral changes, anxiety can also have serious consequences for physical health.
Anxiety is a normal part of life. For example, you may have felt anxious before addressing a group or job interview. In the short term, anxiety increases your breathing and heart rate, directing blood flow to your brain, where it is most needed at that moment. This physical response prepares you to face an intense situation. However, if it lasts, you may feel dizzy and nauseous. Excessive or persistent anxiety can have a devastating effect on your physical and mental health.
Central nervous system
Prolonged anxiety and panic attacks can cause the brain to release stress hormones on a regular basis. This can increase the frequency of symptoms such as headaches, dizziness and depression. When you feel anxious and stressed, your brain floods the nervous system with hormones and chemicals that will help you respond to the threat. Adrenaline and cortisol are two examples.
Although useful for occasional high-stress events, prolonged exposure to stress hormones can be detrimental to your physical health in the long run. For example, prolonged exposure to cortisol can lead to weight gain.
Anxiety disorders can cause rapid heartbeat, palpitations and chest pain. You may also be at increased risk for high blood pressure and heart disease. If you already have heart disease, anxiety disorders can increase the risk of coronary problems.
You may have a stomach ache, stomach upset, diarrhea … You may lose your appetite. There may be a link between anxiety disorders and the development of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) after an intestinal infection. IBS can cause vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation.
Anxiety can trigger a response to stress or escape and release a flood of chemicals and hormones, such as adrenaline, into your body. In the short term, it increases your heart rate and breathing rate, so your brain can get more oxygen. This prepares you to react appropriately to an intense situation. Your immune system can even get a brief boost. With occasional stress, your body returns to normal functioning when that moment passes.
But if you constantly feel anxious and stressed or it lasts a long time, your body never gets a signal to return to normal. This can weaken your immune system, leaving you more susceptible to viral infections and common diseases. Also, your regular vaccines will not work well if you have anxiety.
Anxiety causes rapid, shallow breathing. If you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), you may be at increased risk of hospitalization due to anxiety-related complications. Anxiety can also make asthma symptoms worse.
Anxiety disorder can cause other symptoms: – headaches – muscle tension – insomnia – depression – social isolation If you have PTSD, you may have a flashback – to have a traumatic experience in your mind again. You may find it easy to get angry or scared, and you may become emotionally withdrawn. Other symptoms include nightmares, insomnia and sadness.
There are several types of anxiety disorders
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAP)
GAP is characterized by excessive anxiety for no logical reason. Anxiety and Depression Associations estimate that GAP affects about 6.8 million adults a year in the United States alone. GAP is diagnosed when extreme care of various things lasts for six months or longer. If you have a mild case, you will probably be able to perform daily activities. More serious cases can have a profound impact on life.
Social anxiety disorder
This disorder involves a paralyzing fear of social situations, of judging others, or of humiliation. This severe social phobia can leave a feeling of shame. About 15 million American adults live with social anxiety disorder. It usually occurs around the age of 13, and more than a third of people with social anxiety disorder wait a decade or more before seeking help.
Posttraumatic stress disorder
PTSD develops after witnessing or experiencing something traumatic. Symptoms may begin immediately or appear even after a few years. Common causes include war, natural disasters, or physical assault. PTSD episodes can run without warning.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
People with OCD may feel overwhelmed by the desire to perform certain rituals (coercion) over and over again, or to experience both intrusive and unwanted thoughts that can be disturbing (obsessions). Common compulsions include regular hand washing, counting, or checking something. Common obsessions include concerns about cleanliness, aggressive impulses, and the need for symmetry.
There may be a strong urge to avoid an object or situation.
Causes panic attacks, spontaneous feelings of anxiety ,. Physical symptoms include palpitations, chest pain. They can happen at any time.