Anxiety is something that people all over the world experience. In Spain, the prevalence of this disorder is high, since 9 out of 10 people say they have suffered stress at some time and 4 out of 10 have felt it frequently (Infocop, 2018). Figures that, without a doubt, are quite high.
In order to be diagnosed correctly, it is important that the population knows what anxiety is, how it manifests itself in the body, in which disorders these physical symptoms occur and what types of treatment exist.
INDEX OF CONTENTS
What is anxiety?
As we have already commented in other articles dedicated to anxiety, anxiety It is a reaction that occurs in humans and that everyone experiences. When there is a danger or a threat, our body prepares to respond. This response is the result of anxiety, so we could say that, on occasions, it is a protection mechanism.
However, sometimes we activate or prepare to respond without a stimulus or threat, or we become much more activated than it should be. In these cases we would be talking about a pathological anxiety because it is not functional. By activating ourselves for no reason or by activating ourselves excessively, we generate anguish and other types of unfavorable and inopportune reactions.
The anxiety in these cases can cause different types of reactions: physiological, cognitive, emotional or behavioral. In today’s article we are going to focus on the first ones, the physiological ones or those that manifest in the body.
What are the physical symptoms of anxiety?
It is important to keep in mind that in order to recognize anxiety it is important to know how it manifests itself in our body. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA, 2013) the bodily manifestations could be the following:
- increased heartbeat from the heart
- Tremors or tingling
- Sensation that we lack air or He drowned
- Pain in it chest or thorax
- Upset stomach or abdomen
- dizziness or instability
- Shaking chills
In addition, other investigations also add the following to these symptoms: agitation, strain in different muscles of the body, fatigue, headaches and/or problems urinating (pain or increased frequency).
In which disorders do physical symptoms occur most often?
The truth is that physical symptoms can occur in any of the anxiety disorders. However, they may be more frequent or more important in the following:
- Specific phobias. In this, the reactions of the body cause the person to even become dizzy in the presence of a needle, for example.
- Social anxiety disorder. One of the symptoms of this disorder is that the affected people are afraid that other people will see that they have symptoms. These symptoms are usually: tremors, sweating, facial flushing, etc. In other words, the bodily symptoms.
- Panic disorder. Most of the symptoms of panic disorder are usually physical. For example: palpitations, a feeling of shortness of breath, stomach pain, instability or even dizziness that can lead to dizziness with loss of consciousness.
In addition to these anxiety disorders, they may also be present in other disorders such as: somatic symptom disorder, anxiety disorder due to illness, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), etc.
There are different treatments for the physical symptoms of anxiety. It should be taken into account that, in many cases, the physical symptoms come after the cognitive or emotional ones. Therefore, it is important to carry out a complete approach.
The most effective, according to different clinical guidelines, are the following:
The most commonly used drugs are usually the following:
- SSRI-type antidepressants (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) such as: Paroxetine, Sertraline, Escitalopram or similar.
- short-acting benzodiazepines (Alprazolam, Clotiazepam, Lorazepam, Lormetazepam, Triazolam, Zolpidem and Zopiclone) or long action (Bronazepam, Dipotassium Clorazepate, Diazepam, Flunitrazepam, Flurazepam and Halazepam).
As de la Mata (2005) comments overuse of these medications can lead to over-medicating in people who don’t need it. In addition, in many cases, if the indicated guidelines are not followed, benzodiazepines can have adverse effects such as: drug dependence, cognitive impairment, etc. (Markota, Rummans, Bostwick, & Lapid, 2016).
Treatment in psychological therapy
Within psychological therapy, the one that has the most support and has proven to be the most effective is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). The most used and effective techniques are those that we explain in this section:
- Psychoeducation. It is important to know what anxiety is, how it manifests itself, what mechanisms operate and maintain it, what are the treatments, etc. to be able to face it.
- Relaxation. Jacobson’s Progressive Muscle Relaxation is well known and, if practiced consistently, can be very effective.
- Breathing. Maintaining correct breathing control is essential for the body to receive the oxygen it needs to function properly. The breaths are very useful because they reduce the physical symptoms, but having to keep track of the number of breaths can make people become distracted, leaving aside the psychological symptoms as well. There are different types of breathing: deep, counted, intercostal, abdominal, alternate, etc.
- Meditation. In recent times, different meditation programs have appeared. As in the case of breathing or relaxation, what is intended is to relax the body on a physical level and control thought.
- Cognitive restructuring. In order to change the thoughts that hurt us and can give rise to the physical symptoms of anxiety, cognitive restructuring can also be used to generate more functional and healthy alternative thoughts.
Although the above are the best known, as we saw in the article on relaxation techniques to control panic attacks, there are many more: yoga, differential relaxation, imagining relaxing scenes, etc.
It is also important to take into account that, on many occasions, CBT and drug therapy are used together. All this will depend on each case.
In the event that you are having anxiety and cannot control it, we recommend that you do online therapy, since it has many advantages and can help you lead a more relaxed life.
Anxiety is something that is present in the lives of many people. That’s why, It is important know what it is and see how it manifests in our body to be able to identify it and put a solution to it. Some of the most common physical symptoms are: tremors, dizziness, stomach problems, sweating, etc. and are present in many mental disorders. In order to mitigate them, there are different types of therapy, the most used being pharmacological and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. (TCC).
You may also like:
Derealization: when panic disconnects us from reality
Therapy against phobias and fears
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (5th ed.). Washington DC: APA.
De la Mata, I. (2005). Pharmacological treatment of anxiety. Semergen, 31(7), 301-302. Retrieved from Elsevier.es
Infocop. (2018). More and more Spaniards suffer from anxiety, according to a study. Recovered from infocop.es
Markota, M., Rummans, TA, Bostwick, JM, & Lapid, MI (2016). Benzodiazepine Use in Older Adults: Dangers, Management, and Alternative Therapies. Mayo Clinic Proceedings, 91(11), 1632-1639. doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2016.07.024