The Effects of Generalized Anxiety Disorder on Long-Term Health
Prolonged anxiety can certainly affect your health in the long-term. Approximately, 40 million people in the U.S. suffer from anxiety and two-thirds of these people are women. There are many different types of anxiety disorders including: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Panic Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Specific Phobias, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Posttraumatic-Stress-Disorder. For simplicity's sake, I will be addressing the potential impact of prolonged Generalized Anxiety Disorder on long-term health.
Anxiety occurs as a result of the sympathetic nervous system triggering a “fight-or-flight” response when there is no obvious threat present or if that threat that is out of proportion to the exterior threat. At its core, anxiety is a reaction to stress that can be physical and/or psychological.
Those who suffer from “anxiety attacks” have a higher risk of hypertension because during an anxiety attack many people will experience hyperventilation which can cause your blood pressure to rise to dangerous levels.
Anxiety attacks are periods of intense and prolonged anxiety that may cause people to experience: detachment, trembling, sweating, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, dizziness, and hot flashes to name just a few. If you have multiple anxiety attacks a week it will inevitably take a toll on every system of your body particularly the cardiovascular, digestive, nervous and respiratory systems.
Anxiety can affect your digestive system as it can lead to the development of conditions such irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or functional dyspepsia. IBS can cause an individual to experience symptoms such as severe abdominal pain and bloating. Whereas, functional dyspepsia is associated with symptoms such as severe pain, nausea, and vomiting.
Prolonged anxiety can impact long-term respiratory health for those who have been diagnosed with asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Those with COPD who also have generalized anxiety are at more of a risk for frequent hospitalization and severe distress of the lungs. Your heart health can also be greatly impacted by anxiety as it has been linked to the development of heart disease, heart attacks, heart failure and Aneurysms in some cases.
Now you might be thinking well crap, what do I do to prevent this? No worries, I’ve got you covered:
What have you found that helps you to manage your anxiety? I’d love to hear from you!