Anxiety is often considered a mental and emotional disorder characterized by overwhelming fear that can often be debilitating. That’s a pretty accurate description of anxiety, however, its symptoms aren’t just psychological, some are physical too.
Experiencing anxiety is similar to being on a rollercoaster where fears and emotions come in waves, and they’re often so overwhelming that they give you a nauseous feeling in the pit of your stomach. But unlike rollercoaster, experiencing anxiety is hardly ever fun.
As soon as you become anxious about something, your body’s fight-or-flight response kicks in and your brain goes into panic mode as if trying to scream, ‘DANGER!’ But it isn’t just your nervous system that is affected by the release of stress hormones.
Anxiety has an effect on every single part of your body, and there are some physical symptoms that can indicate if you’re experiencing it. Here are some of the physical symptoms of anxiety to watch out for.
A Racing Heart
One of the biggest sighs of anxiety is a sudden increase in your heart rate. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, your heart rate is controlled by your body’s sympathetic nervous system which is why you experience a quicker heartbeat once you encounter something stressful and your adrenaline glands start producing excess adrenaline and cortisol.
Shortness of Breath
Stress can also control your blood circulation. So when you experience a rush of adrenaline and cortisol, your body responds by circulating oxygen more quickly.
To keep up with the increased flow, you may need to breathe in more air to provide more oxygen during the blood circulation. In some cases, anxiety can lead to hyperventilation which only enhances other symptoms of anxiety, leading to a full-blown panic attack.
People who experience frequent bouts of anxiety report constant fatigue and exhaustion that discourages them from being physically active.
The reason behind this symptom is two-fold. Anxiety causes a dramatic increase in your body’s adrenalin levels which increases alertness in the short-run but quickly leads to exhaustion once the feeling wears off. There could also be another reason behind this: people with anxiety get poor-quality sleep which leads to a decrease in alertness and energy during the day.
Restlessness During the Night
It’s not easy to fall asleep when you’re constantly experiencing an unexplained fear and confusion that keeps your mind alert even when your body is exhausted.
People with anxiety have difficulty falling asleep, and even when they do, they tend to wake up often during the night and experiencing restlessness that can lead to exhaustion in the morning.
Stress can cause your muscles to tense up as they involuntarily prepare themselves for a fight-or-flight response. If you experience constant anxiety, it can lead to muscle aches. Most anxiety sufferers experience pain in their necks, shoulders or backs.
Experiencing frequent stress and anxiety is bound to take a toll on you GI system. People with anxiety report several digestive symptoms like constipation, stomach ache, nausea and diarrhea. Most doctors cite our gut-brain axis as the cause behind the symptoms.
Your brain is connected to the digestive system through an enteric nervous system which is why stress-induced hormones can directly impact your gut and even your immune system.
Cold sweat is an inevitable aspect of anxiety. Most people experience chills when they get anxious, but sweat profusely simultaneously.
According to NIMH, sweating is a common side effect of anxiety caused by a sudden activation of sweat glands by the sympathetic nervous system.
Shaking and Trembling
One of the common by products of anxiety is trembling, which often kicks in when your body starts producing stress-induced hormones excessively. Anxiety sufferers are constantly on guard and get startled easily.