Physical Symptoms of Anxiety
Feelings of anxiety are a natural part of life. However, when anxiety begins to interfere with daily life and cause severe distress, one can be said to suffer from an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety disorders, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder, and Social Anxiety Disorder, are the most common mental health problem among children and adults in the United States. They all include excessive worry in non-threatening situations and are often associated with intense physical symptoms.
Common physical symptoms of anxiety include:
- Racing heart
- Shortness of breath or hyperventilation
- Upset stomach
- Trouble sleeping
- Feeling tired
- Muscle aches or soreness
Certain anxiety disorders tend to be more associated with physical symptoms than others:
Panic disorder is characterized by repeated unexpected panic attacks, during which a person will experience a variety of physical symptoms including heart palpitations, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, and trembling. Though these symptoms will elicit intense fear, they do not generally represent a medical danger.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder:
Generalized Anxiety Disorder is defined as excessive worry about numerous activities and events, is associated with an increase in somatic symptoms like muscle tension, nausea, and fatigue and is often accompanied with medical conditions including irritable bowel syndrome and headaches.
Oftentimes, people experiencing anxiety will first visit a physician because the physical symptoms can be confused with a variety of medical conditions. The physician should do a thorough evaluation to rule out any medical illnesses or medication side effects that may be causing these symptoms.
In addition, anxiety and stress can exacerbate existing medical conditions, which should be closely monitored.
If all medical conditions are ruled out, the physician may refer his or her patient to a mental health professional. Anxiety is usually treated with psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), medications, such as antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, or a combination of both.
If you or someone in your life is suffering from anxiety, please reach out for help. You can contact Fairmount Behavioral Health System 24-hours a day for a mental health assessment from a team of multi-disciplinary professionals.
Amanda Chusid, M.A.