Anxiety disorders are often associated with feelings of worry, stress, and fear, but anxiety is not only a mental occurrence. It is also a physical one. This is true whether you are experiencing anxiety as a result of frightening or stressful events or you are dealing with an anxiety disorder that can often cause both mental and physical symptoms to occur when you may actually be safe.
These physical symptoms of anxiety are a significant part of the experience of anxiety. Their relationship to the psychological symptoms makes understanding both aspects of anxiety, and incorporating treatments of the various symptoms, key in many treatment methods for anxiety disorders.
Physical Manifestations of Anxiety
When you are in a situation where your mind perceives a risk, whether that risk is something chasing you, the prospect of giving a speech, or another stressful situation, the amygdala activates your “fight or flight” response. Adrenaline floods your bloodstream and your body prepares to either run away or fight a threat, leading to the physical symptoms associated with anxiety, including:
- Muscle Tension
- Increased Heartrate
- Faster Breathing
- Increased Blood Flow
- Increased Strenght
- Decreased Physical Sensitivity
- Dilated Pupils
These symptoms are a survival mechanism designed to enhance your focus and performance. When they activate for a short period of time during times when you are in danger or a high stakes situation, they are helpful.
But with an anxiety disorder, it can feel like the amygdala is always “on” and your adrenaline is always going. Or with panic attacks or PTSD, you may experience an intense fight or flight response that is extreme enough to be debilitating and may not be relative to the situation.
Since these physical symptoms are very similar to what you may experience during exercise or extreme exertion, they can be severely draining to experience with regularity. Combined with the frequent fear and worry that anxiety causes, living with any type of anxiety disorder quickly become exhausting.
There is also another important connection between mental and physical symptoms in that they do not occur separately. Feeling anxious can trigger adrenaline. But when you begin to feel your muscles tensing and your heart pounding, that also tells your mind to feel anxious. This creates a cycle where one keeps feeding into the other.
To effectively manage anxiety, treatment will often seek to manage both of these different types of symptoms. Psychotherapy from Long Island Counseling Services provides solutions for all of the different ways that anxiety presents. We use methods like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), mindfulness practices, and others. This can help you not only redirect your thoughts when you experience feelings of anxiety, but also to help change your physical behaviors so that anxiety and tension cannot keep feeding off each other.
If you are living with an anxiety disorder like generalized anxiety, panic disorder, PTSD, and others, our therapists can help you minimize the tiring thoughts and physical sensations that you are dealing with. Contact our team to connect with a therapist and learn more about anxiety treatment on Long Island.