How Does Anxiety Affect Us Physically?

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Anxiety is the most common mental illness today within the United States, affecting over 18% of the population aged 18 and older. That equates to 40 million people, so you’re not alone in this. Anxiety may be a mental illness, but its symptoms can actually manifest themselves physically.


A panic attack is the most common physical symptom of anxiety disorders. People also think of heavy breathing, sweating, and shakiness when they think of anxiety. These things are completely normal before a speech, for example, as your fight or flight mode is activated—but when you feel like this all the time because of small things, you should seek help.


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Your heart beats faster when you’re anxious, which takes a toll on it. Your heart can even beat harder when you’re anxious, which hurts your chest, as well as, your heart in the long run. Over time, it’s suggested by some studies that anxiety can otherwise cause healthy people to have increased risk of heart disease. So try your best to take deep breaths and in the words of Demi Lovato, give your heart a break!


Some physical symptoms of anxiety that people aren’t aware of are feeling too cold or too hot all the time, sleep problems, nausea, and even digestive issues. Emotions can trigger your gut, giving you “butterflies” in your stomach or making you nauseous when you’re nervous.


As said by Harvard Health, “In other words, stress (or depression or other psychological factors) can affect movement and contractions of the GI tract, make inflammation worse, or perhaps make you more susceptible to infection.” It may not be fun to talk about, but stress has the power to affect your poop. So check your emotions but check that toilet too, because it may tell you more about how you’re feeling subconsciously.

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I can personally say that I am anxious so often that when my stomach is clenched, I rarely notice it, so it’s good to check your stools because your gut is greatly affected by your emotions. It’s a physical symptom of anxiety that isn’t talked about enough and can lead to Irritable Bowel Syndrome and other not-so-fun disorders.


There is still a stigma around mental health, but it’s getting better—especially with younger generations. Mental illnesses, specifically anxiety, truly affect all parts of us not just our minds. Our brains control everything we do so it only makes sense that anxiety symptoms pop up in other parts of our bodies. Remember that your feelings are valid and that anxiety disorders cannot be helped. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms (or any of these), go see a doctor because you deserve to get the help you need.

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