9 Ways Anxiety Affects Your Health

Closeup portrait of scared young pretty Indian business woman looking away and covering mouth. Fear concept. Isolated front view on grey background.

Everyone has experienced anxiety as a normal response to stress. As a disorder, however, anxiety goes beyond feelings of nervousness or anxiousness and, as the American Psychiatric Association (APA) describes it, into “excessive fear.” Growing concerns over the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) can also cause temporary anxiety, which if left untreated, can lead to or worsen the conditions below. 

Here are 9 ways anxiety affects your health with tips on how to overcome them and information on how your local pharmacy can help manage the symptoms.

1. High blood pressure

Increased heart rate is a common symptom of anxiety, especially to the point of needing a blood pressure check. As you encounter stressful situations, your heart pumps as much blood as possible throughout your body. 

With chronic anxiety, however, this lasts for a long time, leading to high blood pressure. Blood pressure monitoring can help catch high-pressure levels early on and can help manage the issue before it worsens.

2. Heart diseases

Long-term anxiety increases the levels of a stress hormone called cortisol. When cortisol stays at a high level for a long time, it can cause heart disease and other cardiovascular disorders.

Studies also show that those with anxiety have higher chances of having a heart attack. Although you can find medication for this at a local pharmacy, managing anxiety without medication is the only way to reduce these risks for good.

3. Stomach issues

With stomach issues as a symptom of chronic anxiety, you won’t be able to solve the problem with medication. Feeling on the edge can disrupt the sensitive nerves that control digestion. It can also lead to an upset stomach, irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion, and other stomach issues.

4. Difficulty sleeping

Chronic anxiety can lead to insomnia, and insomnia can lead to various mental and physical health issues. When you feel more tired, your body finds it more challenging to detect infections and illnesses. Lack of sleep also causes memory problems and makes it more challenging to focus.

5. Weight gain

Anxiety is a common trigger for stress eating. As a response to anxiety, the body needs more calories, and the easiest way to indulge those cravings is by eating lots of sugar.

Many sugary foods release into your brain a chemical called serotonin, making you feel content. Without routine exercise, this excessive intake of calories eventually leads to weight gain. This, however, is unlikely for those with anxiety, as anxious people often don’t have the will to start exercising.

6. Respiratory issues

Panic tightened airways, and rapid breathing is often the most considerable side effects of anxiety. Consult your physician if you experience these kinds of issues, and perhaps schedule an appointment with a therapist to discuss managing your panic attacks.

7. Various pain issues

If you experience chronic anxiety, then you’re likely also sensitive to pain and find it difficult to relax. When you’re anxious, your muscles become tense. This can cause headaches as well as chronic inflammation. 

8. Disrupted immune system

The fight or flight response triggered by anxiety can release different hormones and chemicals. Typically, this isn’t harmful but only if they aren’t at a high level for too long. If you stay stressed, your body never returns to normal hormone levels, which can disrupt your immune system, making you vulnerable to various illnesses.

9. Increased blood sugar

Certain hormones, such as epinephrine and cortisol, get released during a fight or flight response, which makes your liver produce extra amounts of glucose. This extra blood sugar gives our body the energy to get out of difficult situations.

When your body believes that the perceived danger has passed, your body absorbs the sugar that remains in your bloodstream. However, when the effects continue over a longer period, this increased blood sugar can lead to diabetes.

For more information

Don’t let anxiety control your life. For more information about finding the right medication to help manage anxiety and its symptoms, contact Smith-Caldwell Drug Store today at (501) 404-2740.