Hi everyone, I wanted to take a few minutes of your time to help you possibly understand your symptoms of anxiety a little better. yes this post is long and I am hoping you'll read it to the end. Yes I have been through all of these myself for 6 years before finally overcoming the situation. No I am not a certified therapist or anything like that, just a man on a mission to help others.
With that said let's begin understanding...
As we know now people who have an anxiety disorder are often faced with many uncomfortable symptoms, and it is not surprising that due to the similarities of the symptoms to other illnesses people often seek emergency medical care. What happens in the mind will be expressed through the body and symptoms can range depending on the person, sometimes a pattern of unmasking and losing fear of one symptom can just open the door for a new physical symptom, this is the tricky side of anxiety and panic attacks.
On their own these symptoms are not harmful but anxiety feeds on these symptoms, which in turn aggravates the disorder, causing more anxiety. We tend to interpret physical sensations which we can't identify clearly, as that we are sick, these symptoms should always be checked by a doctor but if your doctor determines that there are no medical problem causing them, then you are dealing with physical anxiety symptoms, so let's recognize some of the more common ones and why they happen:
Chest pains – Chest pain from anxiety is commonly located over the heart and described as a sharp pain with the pain increasing when you breathe. When your heart rate speeds up during panic the muscles start to contract, which leads to chest pains, the release of stomach acids and indigestion can also cause chest pains though.
About 40% of people with a panic disorder tend to experience the symptom of pain in their chest and think that they are having a heart attack, or in fact have an undiagnosed heart condition, but it's important to know that chest pains associated with panic disorder is NOT related to the heart. Chest pains can come suddenly and can last for hours at a time, pains in the chest area related to panic and anxiety usually stays in that area and rarely causes any other soreness in other parts of the body, whereas when a heart attacks occurs and causes tightness in the chest, the pain tends to radiate farther away from the heart towards the shoulders, neck and left arm.
Just knowing this information many times can lead to a growth in confidence that can take much of the fear away from having chest pains, and eventually can go unnoticed because of the lack of respect you show it eventually.
Dizziness – 3 Million Americans find themselves always dizzy with feelings that they might faint or pass out, but most people would never link anxiety and dizziness together, in the beginning of my anxiety disorder I had many dizzy and lightheaded “spells,” but these spells quickly turned into a constant feeling of unsteadiness and focusing on an object all together became very difficult. When I would tell friends and family members about this feeling I experienced daily that felt like a constant drunken or hungover feeling, they would joke about how funny it was, but the severity of it can completely control your life.
When I tried to show people how I felt, I told them to shake their heads back and forth 20 times and when they stopped that was in fact the feeling I had ALL the time, that exercise caught their attention very quickly and they soon tried to understand a little more about the connection to dizziness and vertigo so that they could become more knowledgable and help me out. When people who suffer from dizziness related to panic and anxiety enter an environment that is filled with visual stimuli such as going grocery shopping in a grocery store filled with people, the dizziness gets much worse and too much sensation is coming into the brain. Also performing precision visual tasks like reading a book or getting work done on a computer can also make the dizziness worse.
Dizziness from anxiety is triggered by the rapid breathing that anxiety causes, but how come rapid breathing from exercise doesn't cause the same kind of dizziness as rapid breathing from anxiety does I wondered? When people exercise they require more oxygen and start to breath rapidly, but they also need to breath out any excess carbon dioxide that can be produced during vigorous exercise. So increasing the breathing is actually a result of our bodies functioning appropriately in response to an exercise, but when someone is going through panic and anxiety the rapid breathing is more then what the body actually needs, therefore releasing too much carbon dioxide which in turn cause the ph of the blood to rise which causes a constriction of our blood vessels in our brains that leads to a dizzy and unsteady sensation.
If you feel dizzy, there is no cause for alarm and such actions as standing too quickly after being seated for a long period, a new medication, not eating anything all day, and the flu can all explain why you feel a SUDDEN dizziness, but by correcting and being conscious of our breathing as outlined in another section you will be able to tame and eventually get rid of dizziness by anxiety.
Anxiety Sweating and Shaking – Sweating is an involuntary thing so we unfortunately do not have the luxury of not sweating, anxiety sweating is a normal bodily reaction to a stressful situation but can have a big impact on your social life and can leave you feeling very vulnerable. In a nutshell to understand this reaction, stress causes heat in the body which makes you sweat. Boxers tend to get oiled up from waist up before a boxing fight because when someone doesn't fire a punch straight at their target, the oil, or built up sweat throughout a boxing match actually makes an incoming punch glide off the face or body causing less damage then of their was no oil or sweat, in the prehistoric days sweating was necessary during a physical fight to save peoples lives as well.
Normal release of sweat is released when overall levels of anxiety are lessened and eliminated. Shaking is again a by product of the fight or flight response and is commonly associated with social anxiety disorder. Raising a glass during a social get together can be a battle in its own when adrenaline kicks in and sometimes you may find that your legs shake and lips start to quiver also.
These symptoms are all maintained by a cycle of negative thinking and seeing yourself shaking will make you feel more nervous, and as you try and hide your nervousness and shaking your muscles tense up further. Fighting against signs of shaking tend to make the shaking worse, so avoid the fight and let it be at as much as you can, what's the worse that can happen? Someone sees you slightly shake and may think you're a little nervous, so be it.
Lump In The Throat Sensation (Globus Hystericus) – Globus Hystericus is a symptom anxious people have that makes them feel like they feel a constant pressure in their throat or the feeling of a lump or something stuck in their throat area. This was extremely bothersome to me and led me to many check ups, an ultrasound of the throat and a camera that was put in through my nose and down to my throat area, all which came back negative which confused me further.
I continuously tried to clear my throat and eventually starting to feel a clicking feeling due to the habit of constantly clearing. It feels similar to a feeling you get when you watch a very sad movie and you're tearing up, but Globus Hystericus is a constant more exaggerated feeling that can lead to shortness of breath and eventually a full blown panic attack due to the over worry of what this constant feeling could be.
Prolonged muscular spasms in the throat and nervousness is again the main culprit here, and when focused distraction is applied the feelings of the annoying lump in the throat are quickly forgotten and tension is brought down.
Palpitations – Unlike a constant feeling like Globus Hystericus, palpitations can come on all of a sudden and can be very alarming sometimes just as you are dozing off to sleep, or even upon waking. The more panicky you feel the more adrenaline is released by your glands which results in a quicker heart beat. As much as you may think your heart is beating at a speedy rate, if you take your pulse you will find that it is a normal speed, and most people in fact don't even feel a heart palpitation but overly aware and anxious people tend to be extremely aware of each and every feeling their body produces, and interpret this heart palpitation as something serious. The key is in your reaction, if the feeling comes about it's important to not react in panic as this too will pass.
Headaches – Tension headaches can last anywhere from 30 minutes to a week, and can be the result of bad posture, hormonal changes and skipping meals as well as stress and anxiety.
Overconsumption of drugs for headaches and migraines can in fact result in rebounding headaches and can make the original feeling much worse. I will again go back to my own experience with debilitating headaches that led me to the emergency room a number of times, which again led to scans of the head and a thorough examinations that always led to a negative diagnosis of anything serious. If headaches persist over a weeks time get a quick check up to rule out anything serious, and when the results come back negative it's time to change certain lifestyle patterns and eating habits so that headaches won't be a problem in the future.
Body Zaps – More commonly known as electric shock syndrome which is commonly associated with a side effect from withdrawing from SSRI's, this is a feeling of brain as well as zapping feelings throughout your whole body and is caused by heightened nerves and being on edge so to speak. A very unsetting feeling no doubt, but body zaps are again usually meaningless in terms of a medical diagnosis.
Worrying and focusing on symptoms can create all sorts of odd sensations with body and brain zaps being one of the oddest ones, divert your focus to something else and you may never feel the discomfort that body zaps bring again.
Indigestion – One of the major reasons that Indigestion and anxiety go hand in hand is because once the body becomes anxious the stomach actually begins to produce more acid. This may slow digestion and lead to more stomach problems like bloating and gas and also heartburn. The discomfort that is felt when these symptoms are present can make anxiety much worse, the heart starts to pump blood faster when stomach acid is at higher levels leading to more sensations that resemble anxiety. Exercise helps speed up digestion and starts the release of our “feeling good” hormones into the bloodstream.
Mental Review – The list of symptoms are long but these seem to be the most common ones, make sure you have a deep understanding of your own physical symptoms and why they appear out of the blue, or are constant symptoms. In general the out of the blue symptoms are more alarming and the ones that are constantly felt are the ones we tend to get scared of as a possible illness. Either way, understand that they are all NORMAL bodily reactions and understanding this in itself will make a big difference in your reaction to them.
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