If you are prone to extreme levels of anxiety, then you need to understand the symptoms of anxiety disorder and their physiologic cause. Even if you cannot understand or discover the reason, it helps you to know which symptoms are generic among all sufferers and what brings them on.
Anxiety goes all the way back to the early cavemen, who were certainly stressed out when they fought each other for food, or when a visiting dinosaur just wanted to eat up everyone. Way back then, the human body was equipped to get ready for a fight-or-flight response. Today, we still experience the same responses to anxiety.
You will notice these sensations whenever you’re stressed out:
- Rapid heartbeat.
- Quick, uneven, shallow breaths.
- Tightened-up muscles.
- Changes in body temperature.
- Numbness of the fingers and toes.
What brings about these symptoms of anxiety disorder? Your heart is beating faster so that it can pump blood through your body. Your lungs are taking in air rapidly so that the blood is well oxygenated. Hormones like adrenalin are released that prepare your muscles to either battle your challenger or run away from him. Blood flow is concentrated in the body’s central organs, rather than the limbs, resulting in the tingling.
You’ll even experience a few physiologic changes that you don’t notice. Your pupils dilate-so that you can see your opponent better. The tiny hairs on your body stand on end, called “piloerection.” This happens so that if you have a lot of body hair, you will look big and scary to your opponent. And if you were to be cut, ostensibly by your enemy, you would notice that your blood clotted more rapidly than normal.
All these physical changes can evoke a few more symptoms of anxiety disorder, such as muscle or intestinal cramps, nausea, a sensation of being overheated, and perspiration. The muscle tightening can also cause your throat to choke up and give your lungs the feeling that there is no room for them to breathe. Because of the rapid heartbeat and increase in blood flow, you might experience blurred vision, dizziness, and even headaches from your anxiety.
Besides the adrenalin that causes some of the above symptoms, your body will also dump cortisol into the bloodstream. This raises your blood sugar levels. These hormones also stimulate reactions at the cellular level that can result in hives. Maybe you or someone you know gets red splotches when they’re anxious-all part of the physiologic responses.
If you become worried and anxious on a regular basis, your worry becomes the stimulus for these symptoms of anxiety disorder. Sometimes the body can be so busy handling signals from the brain about stress that hormones don’t do their regular jobs. For example, scientists have established a connection between children living in constant anxiety whose growth hormones never stimulate them to reach the proper height. That’s a pretty dramatic example, but you can see it’s important to recognise the control you have over your body’s response to anxiety.
Exercising works the hormones out of your muscles, into your bloodstream, and ultimately out of your body. It also releases neurotransmitters-endorphins-from the brain to counteract symptoms of anxiety disorder. You can find relief through relaxation techniques and behavioural modification exercises. Meditation and daily deep-breathing exercises help you train your body to respond positively whenever you begin to feel anxious. In some cases a physician can prescribe medication. Rest assured: You can learn how to take control over your anxiety, which gives you a wonderful feeling of successful empowerment.