anxiety symptoms

Anxiety is an emotional and physical response to a stressful situation. For example, right before an important presentation at work, you might notice that your breathing quickens, your heart starts to beat faster, your palms sweat, and you feel sick to your stomach. Some anxiety is normal, but when it?s continuous it can become overwhelming and damaging.

Anxiety symptoms are triggered by the body?s fight or flight mechanisms. In response to a stressful encounter or situation, the body releases chemicals such as cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline. These chemicals prepare your various body systems to run away, or to stay and fight the challenge. Your heart rate and breathing speed up, sending oxygen to your brain (for planning) and muscles (for action).

The changes that occur in your body as a result of these chemicals produce anxiety symptoms such as a fast heartbeat, nausea, sweating, trembling, chest pain, hot skin, shortness of breath, tense muscles, and weakness in the legs or butterflies in the stomach. People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), a condition that causes persistent worry, have more continuous anxiety symptoms. These can include muscle aches, headaches, fatigue, shakiness, muscle tension, sweating, and a need to use the bathroom frequently. In people with panic disorder, anxiety symptoms come on suddenly, feel intense (racing heart, trouble breathing, dizziness, chest pain), and cause extreme worry.

When these anxiety symptoms strike day after day, they can become too much for your body to handle. Excess anxiety and stress can cause wear and tear on your heart and blood vessels, increasing your risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, or stroke. Continuously tense muscles can lead to headaches and back pain. Chronic stress and anxiety also contribute to body-wide inflammation, which increases the risk for conditions like heart disease, asthma, arthritis, and depression.

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