21
February
2014

Negative effects of anxiety on health

How anxiety negatively impacts your health

Controlling stress and anxiety is very important for your overall health. Unmanaged anxiety can lead to numerous physical, emotional, and mental symptoms. While stress is a normal part of life, it’s important to know when stress and anxiety can lead to distress, and what to do when distress occurs.

Controlling stress and anxiety is very important for your overall health. Unmanaged anxiety can lead to numerous physical, emotional, and mental symptoms. While stress is a normal part of life, it’s important to know when stress and anxiety can lead to distress, and what to do when distress occurs.

Distress, is a negative stress response by the body. Distress disrupts the body’s normal mechanisms. Many common physical symptoms include headaches, muscle tension or pain, dizziness, upset stomach, nausea, diarrhea, high blood pressure, racing heart rate, chest tightness or pain, rapid breathing, sweating, twitching, sexual dysfunction, short-term memory loss, and sleep problems.

Common emotional side effects include increased anxiety and stress, restlessness, lack of motivation or focus, panic attacks, irritability or anger, sadness, and depression. These side effects can cause a major disruption in one’s daily life, and early intervention and prevention of stress needs to occur in order to prevent these from occurring. Anxiety may also cause changes in one’s behavior such as overeating or under eating, anger outbursts, gambling, sex, drug or alcohol abuse, tobacco use, social withdrawal, and isolation. These are also very serious side effects that need quick interventions to prevent them from progressing.

Uncontrolled, long-term stress can also lead to chronic health problems that can affect one’s life forever. Some of these include heart disease, heart attack, cancer, recurrent infections, lung illnesses, cirrhosis of the liver, depression, and suicide. When the body is under frequent, recurring stress, the immune system becomes less effective allowing the body to become more susceptible to infections that are hard to treat and can lead to worsening health problems.

Many of these side effects are avoidable when stress and anxiety are managed early on and continually. Many ways to help reduce anxiety are common lifestyle changes, and these can have a drastic effect on one’s stress level. The first is daily exercise. Daily moderate exercise can be extremely helpful in people suffering from anxiety. It burns off the nervous energy one experiences during stress, and allows for the release of endorphins, which boost one’s mood and reduces the chance of depression. It also enhances the effectiveness of your immune system, which is extremely important in those suffering from stress who are susceptible to insufficient immune systems. Second, eat a healthy and balanced diet. Stress and anxiety can provoke people to overeat, under eat, or make unhealthy choices. Eating not enough, too much, or making poor food choices, already has negative effects on the body and can enhance the negative effects stress already causes. Third, is to be conscious of what bothers you. Allow yourself a few minutes each day to think about your worries and fears, and after that time is up, vow to not think about them for the rest of the day. A helpful reminder is to wear a flexible bracelet to “pop” on the wrist whenever one finds their mind wandering towards their stressors. Fourth is learning to relax and meditate. Deep breathing techniques and meditating, or focused thinking, can allow one to relieve themselves of the constant stressors and clear their mind. Lastly, have a strong social support network to talk to when stress builds up. Talking about worries and fears can help reduce them.

Anxiety can have detrimental effects on the body, and it’s important to know when stress has led to physical, emotional, or behavioral changes that been to be modified. Using the helpful tools in relieving stress can allow one to incorporate these into their daily life easily, and help reduce stress drastically.

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