How Anxiety Influences Your Health
Anxiety is something that more than 40 million adults in the United States alone suffer from. It’s more than just feeling stressed or anxious. Anxiety can range from mild to severe, leaving people crippled in fear, hospitalized, and even on the path toward other psychological disorders.
This debilitating disease can affect just about every aspect of your physical and mental health and should be dealt with as soon as possible to avoid getting to that point.
What Causes Anxiety?
Anxiety can take many forms because it can be caused by a number of circumstances. Anxiety looks different in everyone, depending on where it came from. Some people have anxiety that stems from a childhood trauma, such as an unexpected death of a close loved one, or sexual or physical abuse.
Difficult social situations, like extreme bullying, can also cause a person to experience anxiety. Sometimes, a physical trauma from an accident or sports can trigger anxiety. Other times, anxiety develops for unknown reasons that can’t seem to be explained by a person’s doctor or therapist, suggesting that changes in the brain may play a role.
Is There a Relationship Between Anxiety and Addiction?
Anxiety and alcohol use can go hand-in-hand, as can anxiety and drug addictions. Addiction can cause, or exacerbate, anxiety. You become addicted to a drug or alcohol because these substances change the way your brain works. When that happens, you may begin suffering from anxiety, even if you never had before.
Or, your anxiety could become worse. Anxiety can also lead to addiction. Some people might turn to alcohol or drugs to overcome their anxieties, using them as a temporary way to relieve their symptoms. Alcohol use is especially evident in those with extreme social anxiety.
What Does Anxiety Do To Your Body?
Anxiety takes a toll on your body, regardless of whether you’ve experienced it for a few days or several years.
You might start to notice symptoms and effects of anxiety immediately after it begins. Anxiety quickly takes over almost every physical and mental aspect of your body, from your gut to your muscles.
When you first experience anxiety, you may get an intense headache, sore throat, and stiffened muscles. Your muscles can seize as a response to your anxiety, which can make your body feel pained.
Your liver also reacts quickly to anxiety, producing more glucose and upping your blood sugar levels as your brain releases extra cortisol to combat stress. This process causes your heart to beat more rapidly, which can leave you feeling dizzy and even more anxious.
The most significant effects of anxiety are in the long-term issues it can cause for your body. Consistent anxiety affecting your heart and blood can lead to cardiovascular disease from continuous, extreme stress on the heart.
Anxiety-ridden people often have digestive issues, too, that could result in nausea, vomiting, and bowel problems. Your immune system also takes a major hit, becoming weakened the longer you struggle with anxiety.
And, perhaps most notably, you’ll notice changes in your brain. You might have trouble focusing or remembering things. Many people with anxiety suffer from insomnia and other disruptive sleep patterns. It’s not uncommon for dealing with long-term anxiety to begin to feel depressed because of the toxic stress it places on the body.
What to Do if Anxiety is Leading to Alcohol Use
Anything beyond a moderate amount of drinking can quickly turn into alcohol abuse. If you suffer from anxiety and have turned to alcohol to cope with it, you should quickly seek medical attention before the problem spirals out of control.
There are many other ways to deal with anxiety, including therapy, medications, or even involving yourself in activities that make you happy.