This is what happens to your body when you're anxious
I experienced my first panic attack when I was a freshman. I was not at home for the first time in my life and was stressed about tasks that had to be done, papers that had to be written and tuition fees that had to be paid. I knew I was scared, but I didn't expect to wake up in the middle of the night, gasp for breath, sweat and tremble with a pounding heart. At 3 in the morning I called my parents. "Something's wrong," I said. "I think I have to go to the hospital."
In retrospect, it's pretty clear that I had a panic attack, but here's the thing, if you're experiencing a panic attack or some kind of heightened anxiety, it's hard to believe that it's not something else, something more urgent, and more dangerous. This is because anxiety can manifest itself in physical symptoms (I only recognized this after I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder). Take it from Dr. Richard Firshein, leading expert in integrative and precision-based medicine and founder of the Firshein Center. "Fear is part of a complex series of internal reactions and reactions that begin with a so-called fight or flight reaction."
Below we met with Dr. Entertain Firshein to find out exactly what happens to your body when you're scared. Here's what he had to say.
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How does fear manifest itself in physical symptoms?
This fight or flight reaction, which refers to a physiological reaction that occurs when you are exposed to a perceived threat, is triggered by the release of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. According to Dr. Firshein causes these hormones to include symptoms that include, but are not limited to, increased heart rate and changes in blood sugar and blood pressure. "There are numerous symptoms associated with the release of these hormones," he says. "If this answer is not turned off, it is like a light switch that never goes out. The effects increase over time and then become chronic. Symptoms that should flow off and on with an immediate crisis remain."
According to Dr. Firshein will shorten these distances over time and the reaction to fear will become faster and more sustained. "In some cases this can be slow, in other cases it can be part of a condition called PTSD," he says.
What are some of the physical symptoms of anxiety?
According to Dr. Sanam Hafeez, a neuropsychologist in New York and a faculty member at Columbia University, may experience different physical symptoms of anxiety from patient to patient. "It really depends on what messages our body sends us to draw attention to what we already know is fear," she says. “This can include abdominal pain, tremors, extreme fatigue or emotional stress, sweat and headaches. Our brain sends out the necessary code to physically manifest our concern. "
Other common physical symptoms of anxiety (some of which I have experienced myself) include nausea, restlessness, neck and back pain, chest pain, drowsiness, numbness and tingling, difficulty breathing, and even fibromyalgia. "When we understand that fear is a big part of our response to hormones, it's easier to understand that fear is more than just a feeling," says Dr. Firshein. "It is part of a complex warning system that is of little value on a typical day when threats may exist, but is not a red alarm crisis (think of a saber-toothed tiger or a roaming bear)."
What can you do to relieve the physical symptoms of anxiety?
I have found that alleviating my anxiety is the most effective way to alleviate the physical symptoms that result (since anxiety is at the root of the problem). That means spending time outside, writing diaries, sharing my feelings and fears with friends and family, and doing my best to keep a consistent sleep schedule because Dr. Hafeez says: “Deprivation of sleep is one of the gates for many other things that strain your system. Without sleep, your hormones can shift, your brain performance will be reduced, your immune system and your digestive system will be hampered by the lack of restful rest. "
Dr. Hafeez says staying active is also important. "As more cities come up with plans to open up, follow your local guidelines and get some sunlight and physical activity," she says. “What we're gradually seeing are more and more experts who are explaining that outdoor activities that follow other social distancing methods can minimize the risk of coronavirus infection (COVID-19), allowing you to breathe fresh air and get out of the system can decompress social isolation and boredom of quarantine. "
Dr. Hafeez says that it is not only important to stay active, but also to invest time in yourself. "This is a great time to learn, practice, and share skills that you've always wanted to try," she says. “This can mean painting, writing, art, or learning and reading. If you have shows that have been on your watch list for months, you can catch up on them as long as you don't do everything at once and balance it with adequate sleep, physical activity, work, and fresh air. "
Finally, Dr. recommends Hafeez to find ways to benefit others. "During a pandemic experience, we first think of our survival and those who are close to us. But figuring out what you can do to help others in this crisis can be as rewarding for you as it is for those you care about help." I know that when I'm scared, it is good for me to think of others. Not only does it bring me out of my own anxious thoughts, it also feels good to help someone else.
Dr. Firshein primarily says you should consider separating from social media and negativity with friends and family. Then try “practicing mediation, yoga, visual imagery, getting extra sleep, getting extra sunlight, and taking supplements like vitamin D. Some of my patients respond to CBD, GABA, magnesium, or even gentle chamomile tea. Of course, speaking to a healthcare professional should be the first step, as there may be underlying triggers that are worth discovering. “If these natural remedies don't work, it can of course be worth talking to your doctor about drug research. Please speak to a doctor before treating yourself.
How can you tell if you have chronic anxiety?
Everyone is afraid, but not everyone is chronic. The difference is how often and to what extent you experience it. "Chronic anxiety usually feels like a constant and persistent feeling of concern and discomfort," explains Dr. Hafeez. "Everyone has anxiety on a regular basis, but if you have a so-called generalized anxiety disorder, you may be overwhelmed by your anxiety, which could affect your everyday life." This type of worry affects sleep, concentration, energy levels, appetite, and decision making. "This is emotionally and mentally stressful for everyone, especially when there are situations in addition to the fears that make your worries worse, such as financial instability, health problems, relationship problems, and life changes," she says.
If you've noticed that you've been more anxious than normal lately, you're not alone. "It has been well reported that concerns about an increase in depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses are increasing," says Dr. Hafeez. "While different communities are affected differently, we are all somewhat affected by this pandemic and the economic, health and social impact of our current situation." This is especially true when we consider that the separation from our community of relatives can feel isolating and “everything comes from the physical activity we need to the everyday task of collecting the necessary supplies in the grocery stores and pharmacies You with an anxious list of things we need to do to make sure. "
What can you do about it? According to Dr. We should be gentle to ourselves at Hafeez. "If we are responsible for others or maintain a high standard or for those of us who are entrepreneurs and always think of innovations and career steps, it can be difficult to accept that we are afraid and that this is the case. Okay" , she says. “There is no point in blaming yourself or thinking that fear is something that will make you prevail. We have to recognize it and learn to navigate and manage it. "
If you think you are chronically anxious and have symptoms such as insomnia, reduced energy, and constant worries, it is important to ask a doctor and / or psychiatric professional for help. For me, a combination of talk therapy and medication was incredibly helpful in treating my anxiety disorder. Remember, asking for help when you need it is absolutely no shame.
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