AKUA MIND & BODY

Helping You Achieve Lasting Recovery

Embracing your inner child

How Fear and Anxiety Can Affect Our Everyday Wellbeing

Reading Time: 3 Minutes

Feelings of worry, fear, and panic can be common in everyday life, especially when facing a stress-related situation or challenge. These feelings can be a natural defense mechanism our body experiences as a fight or flight response. However, when fear, worry, and panic become a prominent part of our daily lives, we may struggle with an anxiety disorder. An anxiety disorder develops when fear, worry, and panic become out of proportion to the underlying trigger and continue to linger despite the trigger going away. These anxious feelings may affect our productivity at work, sleep cycles, mood, and personal relationships.

Anxiety does not arise as a personal flaw in your character. Still, it often stems from an underlying trigger such as past trauma, a major life stressor, a chronic illness, substance abuse, or a co-occurring mental health disorder, and, as a result, treatment is often aimed at not only treating the symptoms of anxiety but also addressing the underlying triggers.

Signs and symptoms of anxiety-

  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Racing thoughts
  • Difficulty with sleep
  • Irritability
  • Overthinking
  • Nightmares
  • Heart palpitations

Anxiety can affect our digestive tract

Our stomach and brain are tightly connected through the gut-brain axis, meaning that our brains send signals to our gut to elicit feelings of hunger and satiety and help with digestion. In addition, what we put in our digestive tracts, in terms of our diet, can directly affect patterns of thinking and concentration. Therefore it is no surprise that we may experience nausea when nervous or anxious about a certain situation. When stressed, your brain, through the hypothalamic-pituitary axis (HPA), releases neurotransmitters and other markers that directly affect gut bacteria. Over time, this change in gut bacteria (microflora) can result in ulcers and worsening pre-existing conditions such as Crohn’s disease and irritable bowel syndrome. In the short term, stress and anxiety can give you feelings of heartburn, indigestion, nausea, and food aversion.

Anxiety can affect how we deal with problems

Anxious feelings can cause us to develop poor coping and defense mechanisms. Coping mechanisms are conscious attempts at dealing with or preventing stressful situations, whereas defense mechanisms are unconscious reactions to dealing with stressful situations. Anxiety can cause us to avoid problems by either ignoring them or running away from them, eventually making the pre-existing problem that much bigger. Anxiety can also cause us to react poorly, such as acting out in poor behaviors and emotions such as anger, self-harm, isolation, overreacting, and blaming.

Anxiety can affect our interpersonal relationships

Feelings of anxiety and fear often prevent us from trying new things and experiences and, as a result, often isolate us from loved ones. When we are anxious, we may be unable to leave the house, let alone spend time with others. Anxiety can also lead to feelings of co-dependency, and as a result, you may constantly need to be around others out of fear of being alone. This can be emotionally draining for those you depend on as they may feel an overwhelming sense of having to “help you.” Additionally, when you are experiencing high anxiety levels, others around you can feel that tension and may not know how to deal with it. They may feel like they are walking on eggshells when you are around them and, as a result, may disengage from the relationship.

Anxiety can affect our sleep cycles

The more activated your nervous system is, the more you may struggle to fall asleep. As a result, you may spend hours each night tossing and turning, only to be exhausted upon waking up in the morning. This can create an unhealthy cycle of anxiety, leading to sleepless nights and even more anxiety because you are sleep-deprived.

Anxiety can affect our nervous system

When you are anxious, you are in a constant state of flight or fight, meaning that your brain is releasing hormones throughout your body to overcome this state of anxiety. However, high levels of cortisol and epinephrine can cause trouble with concentration and decision-making, making it difficult to perform tasks, work duties, and meet deadlines. You may feel as though your nervous system is “fried” because you cannot get anything done that requires concentration.

Anxiety can affect our relationship with drugs and alcohol

When we feel anxious, we often use drugs or alcohol to calm us down. Alcohol and drugs such as benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants meaning that they “relax” our nervous system in the short term and can temporarily relieve our feelings of fear, stress, and anxiety. However, over time, we can develop tolerance to these substances, requiring more alcohol and drugs to obtain the same desired effects, eventually leading to an addiction. Using alcohol and drugs as a coping mechanism to tame our anxiety and fear can, over time, worsen our symptoms and lead us to spiral downward into a path of substance abuse. Additionally, withdrawing from alcohol and drugs can provoke severe anxiety symptoms, worsening our already present state of worry.

 

You might also like

Doom-scrolling

The Mental Health Effects of Doom-scrolling

August 14, 2023

Reading Time: 4 Minutes Suppose you have spent several minutes or hours scrolling through the Internet (including social media), reading about disheartening news stories, looking at photos of your ex-partner, and reading hundreds of comments or retweets about a controversial topic from someone you don’t know. In that case, you are engaging in “doom scrolling.” Doom scrolling is a […]

Psychedelic-Drugs-for-Mental-Health-Treatment-pic

Psychedelic Drugs for Mental Health Treatment?

April 10, 2023

Reading Time: 3 Minutes Psychedelic drugs, also known as hallucinogens, are classified into two types: classic (such as LSD, MDMA, ayahuasca, peyote, and psilocybin) and dissociative (such as PCP and ketamine). These drugs can alter an individual’s perceptions, moods, and thoughts. While these drugs are well-known for their recreational use, recent research has shown that they can help treat […]

Trauma Bonding Relationship

Am I In A Trauma Bonding Relationship?

December 26, 2023

Reading Time: 4 Minutes If your partner, parent, or friend was abusive 10% of the time but wonderful the other 90% of the time, you may find yourself confused and making up excuses for their abusive behavior. You may tell yourself and others that you still love them and they are wonderful people despite their abuse. You have invested […]

Skip to content