Flight Fight Or Freeze Response
Anxiety causes the body to activate the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for our fight, flight, or freeze response to a threat.
When we are faced with a threat or stressor, our sympathetic nervous system releases stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline. When we are in this state, our body prioritizes its resources to give us the best chance of immediate survival.
We experience physical symptoms such as sweating, rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, and increased blood pressure. Additionally, blood is diverted away from the digestive system to the large muscle groups, digestion is slowed, and immune system responses are altered.
Can Anxiety Cause Chest Pain
Certain anxiety disorders can cause feelings of chest pain.
Chest pain is not a common symptom of the general anxiety you feel here and there.
However, if you suffer from a type of anxiety disorder called panic disorder, you may experience feelings of chest pain during a panic attack.
The most important consideration any time youre experiencing chest pain is the possibility of heart attack, which is a medical emergency.
Unfortunately, panic attack symptoms and heart attack symptoms can feel similar. So, whether you have a history of panic attacks or not, you should go to the emergency room if youre experiencing chest pain.
Its Not All In Your Head: Mental Illness Can Make You Sick
The thing is, when I tell people I dont feel good, Im not exactly lying. My anxiety often manifests in distinctive physical symptoms: upset stomach, nausea, loose stools, headaches, rapid heartbeat, and dizziness. In fact, sometimes my anxiety will present in physical symptoms before I even realize that I am in the middle of an anxiety episode or panic attack.
I am not alone. Mental illness can be as physically debilitating as it can be emotionally draining. If you dont feel well when you are struggling with your mental illness, you are not making it up or faking it! Mental illness can truly make you feel unwell.
For example, depression, which affects 1 in 15 adults in any given year, comes along with about as many physical symptoms as emotional ones. According to the American Psychiatric Association, physical symptoms of depression can include:
- Appetite changes
- Heightened fatigue
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Build A Support Network
While relationships can sometimes be a source of prolonged stress, having supportive people in your life to lean on also acts as an important buffer against acute and chronic stress. Research has found that social support is critical for both physical and mental health.
Not only does support help people become more resilient, but it also helps protect people from developing mental disorders related to stress and trauma. For example, one study found that social support helped reduce the effects of stress on symptoms of depression.
Finding support doesnt mean you need to have an enormous network. The American Psychological Association suggests that having a handful of friends and family members can provide the emotional support you need to better manage your stress.
Youre Having Trouble Thinking Clearly
If youve been having a tough time concentrating on one task at a time, remembering things accurately, or just generally operating on a higher level, stress could be to blame. Stress makes it difficult for you to think clearly, as it clouds your thinking and makes it difficult to focus.
This mental fatigue sometimes happens when small stressors pile in at a volume with which we cant keep up. Things like making multiple tough decisions at work, handling ongoing interruptions, and juggling social commitments all of these can accumulate and start to weigh on you . If you dont have a chance to hit the pause button and reset, brain fog could set in. Focus is a finite resource and when stretched thin, it falters.
The unfortunate reality of this mental fatigue is that it can affect your physical energy levels, too. If youve spent the whole day feeling exhausted just doing the tasks you that you normally knock out in one afternoon, your body will feel tired. For some, this perpetuates the stress cycle no energy for stress-busting outlets like meditation, creative endeavors, or exercise means nowhere to release that stress, and it remains a looming burden.
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Psychological Symptoms Of Gad
GAD can cause a change in your behaviour and the way you think and feel about things, resulting in symptoms such as:
- difficulty concentrating
Your symptoms may cause you to withdraw from social contact to avoid feelings of worry and dread.
You may also find going to work difficult and stressful, and may take time off sick. These actions can make you worry even more about yourself and increase your lack of self-esteem.
June 8, 2019Rhonda Kelloway, LCSW, SEP
One aspect of depression and anxiety that makes these disorders so frustrating is how they affect the whole body. But can depression and anxiety actually make you sick?
No two experiences of depression are the same. But its pretty common to feel lethargic, fatigued, agitated, tearful, in pain, no appetite or increased appetite, and headaches, in addition to feeling down.
Similarly, anxiety can show up in the body in lots of ways. Common symptoms are tightness in the chest, agitation, trembling, chest pain, nausea or abdominal distress, dizziness, tingling or cold in the extremities, panic, heart palpitations, etc.
In other words, you experience these disorders physically, as well as emotionally. You feel sick. This whole body experience can easily be misinterpreted as a physical illness, rather than a mental one.
Final Thoughts On Whether Depression Can Make You Sick
The interconnection between body and mind is undeniable. If you live with depression, some days can feel like swimming through mud. It can be hard to feel motivated or take action.
On top of this, depression doesnt always look the way society may portray it. Some people have high-functioning depression, which can look like being overly critical and irritable, having a racing mind, a sense of foreboding, or self-doubt. You might throw yourself into your work and never slow down, although youre battling feelings of depression.
But if youre struggling, its essential to seek help. Untreated depression can harm both your body and your mind. If you think you may be suffering from depression, talk to your doctor or someone you trust about how youre feeling. Support is available, and you dont have to go through it alone.
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How To Take Control Of Your Stress
The good news is that you can avoid health problems associated with chronic worry by learning how to manage your stress.
Dr. Borland suggests the following steps to help you cope with stress:
- Exercise each day. Do some form of exercise each day, whether strength training, aerobic exercise or walking your dog.
- Meditate and breathe deeply. Repeat a calming mantra or visualize a serene setting.
- Eat healthy. Focus on a balanced diet. Also, limit your caffeine and sugar intake, which can key you up and contribute to anxiety and insomnia.
- Stay in contact with people who support you. Get support from your spouse or significant other, parents, siblings and friends.
- Take part in fun activities with family and friends. Smile, laugh and be as emotionally present as you can.
- Seek calming, creative activities. Try painting or drawing, gardening or cooking.
- Be grateful. Focus on areas of life for which you are appreciative. Pay attention to what makes you feel grateful.
- Talk to your doctor and, if necessary, seek professional mental health treatment. Dont hesitate to reach out to your doctor, especially if you are coping with depression or anxiety.
Worry is a part of life for everyone, and this past year has been extra stressful for many. But by taking steps to proactively manage your stress, you can help make sure that your daily worries dont end up hurting your health.
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Dogs Can Smell Your Fear
Weve heard time and time again that animals can smell our fear. Its often a line in movies during a suspenseful scene where one must be brave while hiding from or facing off against some manner of a dangerous beast. But is it true that animals can smell our fear, and if so, can dogs?
The answer appears to be yes. In 2017, a study was published that observed whether or not dogs could sense our emotions using their noses. This study collected sweat samples from men who were unrelated to the dog and would not otherwise be participating in the study.
The samples were collected while the men were in states of fear, happiness, and neutrality . When the dogs smelled the fearful sweat, they became fearful as well.
They sought comfort from their owners, made less social contact with the stranger in the room, and showed higher signs of stress than when they had smelled happy or neutral sweat. The dogs heart rates were also found to be higher.
Considering that anxiety can make you feel fearful, it is possible that a dog could smell this change in your body chemistry and either be affected by emotional contagion or attempt to comfort you.
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Managing Stress In Daily Life
Stress is not an illness itself, but it can cause serious illness if it isnt addressed. Its important to recognise the symptoms of stress early. Recognising the signs and symptoms of stress will help you figure out ways of coping and save you from adopting unhealthy coping methods, such as drinking or smoking.
There is little you can do to prevent stress, but there are many things you can do to manage stress more effectively, such as learning how to relax, taking regular exercise and adopting good time-management techniques.
Studies have found that mindfulness courses, where participants are taught simple meditations across a series of weeks, can also help to reduce stress and improve mood.
How Are The Physical Symptoms Of Depression Diagnosed
A healthcare provider will likely do an exam and run tests to see if your symptoms may be caused by a physical condition, such as thyroid problems.
If a physical cause is ruled out, your provider will ask about your general health and family history, physical and mental symptoms, and other information that can help them make a diagnosis.
If depression is diagnosed, your healthcare provider will discuss ways in which to manage symptoms, including physical ones.
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Can Anxiety Cause Shortness Of Breath
Certain anxiety disorders can cause feelings of shortness of breath.
General anxiety increases your respiration rate, causing you to breathe more rapidly than usual. This faster breathing, also called hyperventilation, isn’t the same as shortness of breath, however.
Shortness of breath feels like a tightening in your chest and often comes with trouble breathing. It’s not a common symptom of general anxiety.
However, similar to feelings of chest pain, shortness of breath is associated with panic attacks and panic disorder, a specific type of anxiety disorder.
Since it can be a sign of heart attack or another life-threatening condition, unexplained shortness of breath is a medical emergency. Whether you have a history of panic attacks or not, you should go to the emergency room if you’re experiencing sudden and/or severe shortness of breath.
Mental Health Issues Like Depression And Anxiety On The Rise Globally
Across the world, people need mental health support now more than ever. Global and community-led initiatives are starting to make a difference. But is it enough? On World Mental Health Day, DW takes a look.
Access to mental health support is difficult in many countries
October 10 is World Mental Health Day, a World Health Organization event to “raise awareness of mental health issues around the world and to mobilize efforts in support of mental health.”
Mental health advocates, including the WHO, have been pushing hard to reform mental health care for decades. This year, they stress that a perfect storm of events from the coronavirus pandemic to economic downturns has had a major impact on mental health around the world.
According to the WHO World Mental Health report , depression and anxiety rose 25% in the first year of the pandemic, bringing the total number of people living with a mental disorder to nearly 1 billion people.
“What’s more, mental health services have been severely disrupted in recent years, and the treatment gap for mental health conditions has widened,” a WHO spokesperson told DW.
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Common Signs And Symptoms Of Stress
Learn More About Our Program For Depression
Alexis Lexi Thomas serves as Admission Specialist for Burning Tree Programs. Holding a Bachelors degree in Public Health from the University of Arizona, Lexi lends passion, knowledge, and insight to the admissions process. Treating every inquiry with a sense of tenderness and empathy, Lexi knows first-hand what the family members experience of addiction feels like. After losing her own family member to addiction, Lexi dedicated her life to helping others find the freedom they deserve. A native of Tucson, AZ., Lexi is happily married and expecting a baby. She counts one dog and a cat amongst her growing family.
Patty Raymer serves as Sr. National Business Development Representative for Burning Tree Programs. Active in the national recovery community since 1992, Patty has enjoyed over 30 years of sobriety, service, and excellence in her personal triumph over addiction. Today she helps guide families and clients in their own quest for meaningful, individualized treatment solutions. As one of the most recognizable names in our industry, Patty believes that enrolling in ones own personal work is the best way for the family to heal from the wounds of addiction. Subscribed to the mantra of Trust God, Clean House, Help Others, Patty and her husband reside in the beautiful Texas Hill Country.
Effects Of Anxiety And Depression On Your Health
Almost everyone experiences some degree of anxiety or depression at various points in life. In the right circumstances, anxiety is actually a normal fight or flight response that helps you navigate a precarious or stressful situation with extra precaution or care. Its also perfectly normal to feel lonely, sad, or disinterested when faced with difficult, life-changing events.
But when anxiety interferes with daily life and feelings of overwhelming sadness or emptiness persist, its no longer normal its a mental health disorder.
Anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental illness in the United States, affecting 40 million Americans, or almost 20% of the adult population. Anxiety and depression often go hand-in-hand: Close to half of adults who are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder also have some type of depressive disorder.
Living with an untreated anxiety or depressive disorder can impact more than your daily life, it can also affect your physical health, either by making existing health problems worse, or causing serious problems to develop. Heres a short list of some of the ways anxiety and depressive disorders can influence your physical health:
Things I Dont Feel Good Might Really Mean
If you are the friend or family member of someone who is challenged with mental illness, you should know that sometimes your loved one may not want to tell you outright that they are having a tough time. Its not your job to decode what they mean, but it might be helpful to know that when they use a phrase like I dont feel good, something more than meets the eye may be going on.
I dont feel good can be a stand-in for lots of different emotions or struggles, but here are a few things it might mean:
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Is Tms Therapy Right For You
Most people experiencing depression can receive TMS therapy alongside other treatments. TMS therapy has also proven effective when different types of treatment do not work. However, we know every case is different.
Only a few exceptions will prevent some people from receiving this type of treatment, including pregnancy, brain damage, certain medications, history of seizure, or epilepsy. However, we will talk to you in great detail to find a treatment suitable for your health needs.
Depression And Medical Illnesses: A Vicious Cycle
Many of the physical changes caused by depression, such as insomnia or a lack of deep sleep, are thought to weaken your immune system. This can make existing illnesses worse. In turn, physical changes caused either by depression or chronic disease can trigger or worsen depression. All these changes can lead to a vicious cycle that’s tough to break without treatment for both depression and any other diseases.
Many serious illnesses or conditions coexist with depression. They include:
Depression increases the risk of some of these diseases, but not always. For example, there is no evidence to support the idea that depression leads to cancer, although the two often coexist. At the same time, it’s important to know that depression is not an inevitable result of serious diseases such as cancer and HIV, or that it can’t be managed.
Once you become ill, how does depression influence the course of disease? For one, you are more likely to develop complications. This may be true because depression magnifies physical changes in your brain and body. If you already have heart disease, for example, higher levels of stress hormones may make it harder for your body to do needed tissue repair.
Depression may also make it more difficult to follow instructions, take medications, or stick with other aspects of a treatment regimen. Pain, which is common with depression, can also complicate the treatment of depression. This means people with chronic pain tend to have worse depression outcomes.
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