To understand how physical illness is associated with anxiety and stress, it is essential to first comprehend the features and effects of anxiety. Repeated studies and research in this field has shown that anxiety could be a possible cause of many illnesses like heart attack, headache, and respiratory disorders. Doctors and counselors at St. Louis anxiety treatment center often suggest understanding the stress triggers before treating anxiety disorder.
So, what is anxiety? How undiagnosed and untreated anxiety affects the physical health of the sufferer?
As per medical professionals, anxiety is the emotional outcome of stress. The feeling associated with anxiety develops in the amygdala region of the brain that monitors emotional reflexes in the body. During a state of anxiety, the neurotransmitters carry impulses to the affected nervous system. The process results in a rise in heartbeat, rapid breathing and muscular tension. However, these physical effects often cause nausea, diarrhea, and light-headedness amongst other symptoms. Often, undiagnosed anxiety can cause physical and mental illness. Thus, it is more than essential to undergo anxiety treatment early on. Given the advances in the field of neurosciences,neurotherapy for anxietyis widely available for patients.
Having said so, here are some of the most common illnesses associated with prolonged anxiety disorder and stress.
Anxiety and gastrointestinal disorders
In America, almost over 20 percent of people suffer from functional digestive disorders like functional dyspepsia and IBS. Those suffering from these disorders have hypersensitive digestive nerves that can get sensitive when stimulated. Although not life-threatening, symptoms associated with these disorders that include vomiting, nausea, pain, constipation, bloating and diarrhea are painful to tolerate.
Chronic respiratory disorders and anxiety
In respiratory illness like breathlessness and asthma, the inflamed and irritated airways get irregularly contracted, causing less air to pass through the lungs. While in COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, the lungs losses their elasticity making inflammation of airways worse. In such a situation, it is difficult for the air to pass through the lungs and fill and expel air from the lungs completely.
However, there is a debate on the effect of anxiety on respiratory disorders, but there are various studies which show that patients with respiratory diseases have a high rate of symptoms linked with anxiety and stress. Other studies involving chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients have made interesting revelations that anxiety and stress are associated with frequent hospitalization.
Anxiety and heart disease
Studies and medical researchers have also linked anxiety disorder with heart diseases and strokes. One such study called the Nurses’ Health Study found that women having phobic anxiety were 59 percent more prone to experience a heart attack. The study also concluded that women with a high level of anxiety are 31 % more likely to die from heart attack as compared to those with low anxiety level. Further, data from Women’s Health Initiative which studied 3,300 postmenopausal women showed that women with panic attack experiences in the past are three times more prone to a coronary event or stroke.
Two separate studies conducted by individual medical colleges and research centers showed that men and women who have some form of heart disease and suffering from stress and anxiety are twice prone to having a heart attack.