Can Anxiety Have a Physical Impact?

When most people think about anxiety, they assume the sufferer is dealing with symptoms impacting mental health. But anxiety is not just a condition that impacts one’s mind. It can have a real and meaningful impact on physical health too.

There are both short and long-term consequences for a person’s body when they suffer from anxiety.

What is anxiety?

An anxiety disorder is described as the excessive feelings of worry, nervousness and being scared. While most people experience these feelings to some extent, those who suffer from anxiety have their everyday life impacted by how they are feeling.

It is common for someone with anxiety disorder to be unable to function due to excessive nervousness or fear. It can hamper people in their everyday lives, from running errands to being at work.

And anxiety is a lot more common than most assume. Roughly 40 million adults suffer from anxiety each year in the United States.

What are common anxiety symptoms?

When considering anxiety, most people would associate symptoms such as panicking, restlessness, nervousness and difficulty concentrating.

What many do not realize though, is that anxiety can also result in serious panic attacks, excessive sweating and shaking, a high heart rate, heart palpitations, weakness and dizziness, and nausea.

Those who suffer from a lot of anxiety may even experience digestive issues or chest pain due to the condition.

How anxiety impacts the body

Short term anxiety will include physical symptoms. But most who suffer from anxiety for a few days or weeks should not have lasting physical symptoms.

It is not the case for long term anxiety. It is common for someone with long term anxiety to develop serious physical issues that impact the rest of their life.

Breathing issues

One of the distinct ways that anxiety impacts the body is through breathing issues. When someone is anxious, they usually breathe in a rapid and shallow way.

Such hyperventilation means that a person’s lungs are not getting enough oxygen. If such symptoms continue, it can result in a feeling of dizziness or lightheadedness.

Anxiety and the heart

Anxiety can have a real impact on the way a person’s heart beats and circulates blood. When someone experiences anxiety, their heart rate goes up. When such anxiety is a long term issue, it results in a long term increase in heart rate.

There are studies showing that long term anxiety is so bad for the heart that it can increase the chance of heart disease in someone who is otherwise healthy.

How to treat anxiety

Those who are suffering from anxiety must get help, whether it is in the form of medication, therapy, a support group or changes in lifestyle.

There is no one size fits all solution when it comes to anxiety. Everyone reacts differently to medication or therapy. Support groups may work better for others, as they are able to talk out their issues with others going through the same experiences.

What matters is that a sufferer of anxiety gets help, because having the condition for many years can have a lasting negative impact on the body – not just the mind.