You must have wondered at some point in your life – can anxiety kill you. Medical experts have concluded that anxiety is often a persistent, excessive and intense feeling of fear and worry about everyday situations. Anxiety can also cause physical changes like increased heart rate and blood pressure. It is often associated with panic attacks – a sudden feeling of tension and fear. Stress, anxiety and panic attacks are, however, a common condition that you must have experienced at some point in your life. Mental health professionals acknowledge that anxious feelings are healthy and helpful in reacting to potential threats and stresses. It improves your concentration and quickens your reflexes. However, when anxious feelings, anxious thoughts, panic and stress persist, and you can’t seem to control them, they become harmful to both your physical and mental health.
Anxiety disorders are feelings of anxiety that have persisted for long and have affected your daily life. When this happens, medical attention is required. Since most mental problems are somewhat related, you may feel depressed out of anxiety. The symptoms of most mental illness problems can overlap. Such symptoms include your inability to work and to socialize with other people. To understand anxiety better, let’s look at some of its symptoms.
Symptoms of anxiety
Anxiety may affect individuals differently. The feeling of anxiety often triggers your survival instincts activating your reflexes as your body goes on high alert. Sometimes you may not realize when you worry too much since these symptoms creep up gradually. Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms.
– Increased heart rate
– High blood pressure
– Restlessness and nervousness
– Feelings of panic and danger
– Heavy breathing
– Difficulty in breathing
– Muscle twitches
– Tight feeling in the chest
– Chest pain
– Mind full of racing thoughts
– Persistent, unrealistic worrying ideas
– Insomnia (having trouble sleeping)
– Having difficulty in controlling your emotions
– Feeling tired or weak
– Having trouble paying attention
– Trying to avoid situations that you think might trigger severe anxiety
– Gastrointestinal or digestive problems such as constipation, diarrhea or gas
– OCD – obsessive-compulsive disorder
– PTSD – post-traumatic stress disorder
Panic attacks are closely linked to anxiety. It is a similar feeling that suddenly picks within a short time and involves experiencing most of the anxiety symptoms. Most people that experience panic attacks often think that they may be experiencing other illnesses apart from an anxiety disorder. Some of the above symptoms are similar to breathing disorders, heart disease, and other conditions.
Other symptoms of panic attacks include;
– Sensation of chocking
– Lightheadedness/feeling faint
– Fear of losing control, going crazy or dying
– Detachment from reality
– Feeling hot or cold.
Causes of anxiety
Several things can trigger emotional instability in our surroundings. Some of the leading causes of anxiety include;
– Medical factors such as effects of prescription drugs, symptoms of an illness, intensive surgery and prolonged recovery.
– Genetics. Anxiety might be hereditary in the family in some cases.
– Withdrawal from alcohol and substance use which might trigger mixed emotions.
– Environmental stressors such as a problematic relationship with loved ones or work stress
– Medical experts have discovered that some people’s brain chemistry triggers anxiety.
– Trauma. People who have gone
Types of anxiety disorders and their negative effects on your health
1. Panic attacks
A panic attack is a sudden feeling of fear and repeated bouts of anxiety. Some effects of panic attacks might be so severe that a person may think they are dying.
2. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
People with GAD tend to worry and become restless even when doing typical day to day activities. This causes physical problems such as insomnia, stomach upsets and headache.
Individuals with this disorder tend to fear placed ad situations that make them feel embarrassed, weak, powerless or trapped.
4. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
OCD is a condition that makes people do certain things in a specific manner to calm down their anxiety even when they know they are unnecessary.
5. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
PTSD is an anxiety disorder from personal experiences such as an accident, natural disaster, assault, war etc.
6. Separation anxiety disorder
These anxiety disorders triggered by separation of a child from the guardians or parents.
7. Social anxiety disorder, or social phobia
Social phobia is an anxiety disorder that involves the avoidance of social places out of embarrassment or concern of being judged by others.
Selective mutism is a common condition in children where a child may refuse to speak in specific places such as hospitals or schools though they can speak in other places or situations.
9. Specific phobias
Most people may have specific phobias – anxiety when exposed to a particular situation, event, or object.
10. Substance-induced anxiety disorder
This disorder is triggered by a direct result of misusing alcohol and drugs. It can also be caused by taking prescription drugs and withdrawal from substance abuse.
Can anxiety kill you?
A never-ending worry and mixed emotions are tough for our daily lives, especially considering the fast-paced lifestyles in the modern world today. It is understandable if you are afraid of the consequences that prolonged feelings of anxiety, panic, or stress might cause. This said, it is essential to understand that though anxiety or panic attacks may not kill you directly, they contribute to several physical and mental complications that might lead to death. Statistics from reputable organizations suggest that anxiety is a common problem around the world. The World Health Organization estimated that about 300 million people have a form of anxiety disorder. The National Institutes of Health also reported that more than 30 percent of American adults experience an anxiety disorder at some point.
Chronic anxiety adversely affects people with severe conditions such as heart disease and may also contribute to the problem. High blood pressure and heart rate may contribute to a heart attack. Additionally, anxiety is associated with pushing people to commit suicide. Medical experts have reported that depression and anxiety are related problems that have contributed to chronic problems such as alcoholism that leads to liver and heart disease. Also, it is associated with deprivation of sleep that is linked to other serious illnesses.
If you experience anxiety in the short-term, it would be best if you tried the following tips to control your emotions. However, if the symptoms prolong, you should seek medical assistance and see if there is a serious mental health issue.
– Practice breathing exercises, like deep breathing, to calm yourself down. Learning how to control your breathing is an essential way to relax and to reduce anxiety. Exhale slowly through the mouth and count to five as your abdomen falls.
-Relaxation techniques like meditation could also be very helpful.
– Learn to manage your stress and how you react to a stressful situation
– Relax your stomach muscles
– Place your hand over your abdomen
– Take care of yourself the best way you can. Accept your limitations and make time for some fun.
– Adopt a healthy lifestyle – manage your diet and exercise regularly
– Stay away from excessive alcohol and drug consumption including caffeine
– Spend time with your loved ones. Loneliness triggers stress
Research has shown that severe anxiety can have an important impact on your mental health condition that also affects your general wellness. This said it would be best if you sought medical attention if you have experienced any of the above symptoms, especially for a prolonged period.