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The Effects of Anxiety on Your Body

Take a look at what anxiety does to your body and whether it’s only your immediate reaction to stress or a long-term problem.

Mental Health By Ariba Khaliq / Jun 03, 2014

Those Bouts of Anxiety

One of every four Indians is affected by anxiety disorders; if you are one of those affected, you might be too familiar with the negative impacts that bouts of anxiety can have on your daily lives. Even if you don’t suffer from an anxiety disorder, you sure realise that episodes of being anxious and chronic stress are a part-and-parcel of modern lives and take a serious toll on our health. Let's take a magnified look at how anxiety affects the body. Image Courtesy: Getty


Throat Hassle

When you encounter a stressful situation, your body’s immediate reaction is to let out a croaky, squeaky voice. Anxiety diverts the fluids to more essential locations in the body, causing spasms in the throat muscles. The tight, dry throat is the result of this spasm making it difficult for you to swallow. Image Courtesy: Getty


Liver Responses

When in an anxious situation, excessive amounts of stress hormone cortisol gets produced by the adrenal system. The liver in turn produces more glucose, giving rise to high-energy blood sugar which triggers your “fight or flight” reactions. For diabetics, the excessive amount of blood sugar could potentially cause health issues. Image Courtesy: Getty


Skin Issues

The body’s “fight or flight” mode during an anxiety attack pushes more blood to flow to the muscles, causing that cold, clammy sweat, and warm flushed cheeks as the body’s outward sign of immediate stress. If you suffer chronic anxiety and get overexposed to this reaction, your skin might age faster. University of Maryland Medical Center says that severe stress and anxiety can also trigger eczema outbreaks. Image Courtesy: Getty


Spleen Activity

Along with our brains and hearts, anxiety affects internal organs like spleen and blood cells too. Our oxygen level depletes during stress, which makes spleen to discharge extra red and white blood cells. In order to prep the rest of the body for added demands, the blood flow increases by 300 to 400 percent. Image Courtesy: Getty


Muscle Tension

Your body tightens, creating strain on large muscle groups during an anxiety attack . This tension is aggravated when stress becomes chronic, resulting in headaches, stiff shoulders, neck pain, and migraines. Constant state of stress can put you at a higher risk for chronic musculoskeletal disorders. Image Courtesy: Getty


Heart Troubles

Anxiety and chronic stress cause increased heart rate, elevated blood pressure and overexposure to cortisol, putting you at bigger risk for cardiovascular problems. According to the American Psychological Association, long-term stress can also lead to hypertension, arrhythmias, and an increased chance of stroke. Image Courtesy: Getty


Effects on Lungs

According to some studies, anxiety is related to asthma. Asthma sufferers are also more likely to experience panic attacks than non-asthmatics. Research conducted by the University of Sao Paulo suspects a link between anxiety, asthma and balance. Image Courtesy: Getty


Brain Problems

The areas of the brain that influence long-term memory, short-term memory and chemical production, are affected by chronic stress and anxiety, which can result in a chemical imbalance. Image Courtesy: Getty


Sleep Issues

Approximately 54 percent of people suffering from stress and anxiety find it difficult to drift off. Plus, more than 50 percent of men and more than 40 percent of women have concentration troubles the next day, says Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Image Courtesy: Getty


Immune System Chaos

“Fight and flight” reaction causes the functions of immune system to be ineffective. Studies have found that when stressed, you’re more likely to catch a cold and are more susceptible to infections and inflammation. Image Courtesy: Getty


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