Anxiety

Effects Of Anxiety

If you suffer from anxiety or a more severe anxiety disorder, know that you’re not alone. You’re among a group of 40 million U.S. adults who experience related symptoms each year and struggle with the consequences. Anxiety symptoms can be harmful if left untreated, but, fortunately, they can be managed.

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal part of our lives. You get worried about taking an exam or may breathe heavily for short periods watching a scary movie. But these feelings usually subside for most people. “However, people with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. Often, anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks).”

Non-Medical Ways To Cope With Anxiety

Dr. David Samadi, based at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island, New York, offers these tips for coping with anxiety.

  • Make changes where possible and let the remainder run its course.
  • Exercise as a way to release tension and help you get relaxed.
  • Avoid caffeine and nicotine.
  • Stay away from drugs and alcohol as a means of relief.
  • Learn about anxiety disorders. 
  • Use stress management practices.
  • Ask your doctor for help in managing your anxiety.

Effects Of Anxiety

  • Heart problems, especially when under stress. These are characterized by an elevated heart rate which can boost your chances of an attack, stroke, or heart disease.
  • When you’re anxious, it’s natural for your heart to pump more blood, making your blood pressure increase. Anxiety itself doesn’t lead to high blood pressure, but rather it’s the frequent episodes of the fight-flight reaction which may promote high blood pressure issues. This can damage your brain, heart, and kidneys and boost your risk of stroke.
  • Stomach and gastrointestinal discomfort. Things like diarrhea, nausea, and stomach aches are widespread symptoms of continuing anxiety.
  • Asthma and breathing trouble. If you’re anxious, you can breathe rapidly as a result, and your airways become restricted. This phenomenon may lead to higher instances of asthma for people with anxiety, compared to those without.
  • Your immune system won’t work like it should, leaving you more susceptible to viruses like colds. When you’re suffering from anxiety, it triggers the delivery of stress hormones leading to many changes in how your immune system responds.
  • You may suffer from chronic muscle tension as your muscles tense and tighten because of anxiety. And if anxiety persists, the muscles can’t fully relax, resulting in chronic muscle tension. 
  • You may have frequent headaches, migraines and dental problems caused by clenched teeth. 
  • If you’re anxious or constantly under stress, you may binge eat and experience weight gain as a result. Anxiety causes us to crave chocolates and other sugary “comfort foods” because they dispense the body’s natural “feel-good” hormone, serotonin. As serotonin gets released, you experience temporary relief but also more frequent and continual cravings for less-than-healthy foods. 
  • You may experience sleep problems like insomnia, where you have trouble falling asleep. If you can’t sleep, you may be more susceptible to problems like heart disease, stroke, a compromised immune system, poor judgment, and even other anxiety disorders. 
  • Your healthcare provider may observe spikes in blood sugar levels. This is caused by the release of the stress hormones cortisol and epinephrine during the body’s fight-or-flight response to anxiety and stress. During this response, your liver may release warehoused glucose or blood sugar into your bloodstream to give your body an energy boost. Your body will eventually absorb the extra blood sugar, but repeated instances boost your risk of getting type 2 diabetes.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Anxiety can happen to anyone, and it’s a normal part of life. But if symptoms occur every day and linger for months, you may be at risk of developing a more serious anxiety disorder. In either case, a healthcare provider could:

  • Give you a psychological assessment. This would focus on thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and look for a psychological basis for your symptoms, including personal or family history of mental illness.
  • Review your symptoms with criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, before deciding on a diagnosis.

Treatment may involve psychotherapy or options including ketamine infusion.

Final Thoughts

Anxiety symptoms shouldn’t be ignored. The effects on the human body can be serious if the symptoms are brushed aside as just part of a bad day. If you experience symptoms, contact us today to learn more about treatment options and regain control of your life.

Uncategorized

Are OCD Thoughts True?

You got mugged and had a disturbing dream about what would happen if you encountered your assailant again – it left you shaking and sweating. But does that mean you’d really act that way? No, not necessarily. But you’re also fixated on celebrity news. Does that mean you have OCD? Maybe.

What is OCD?

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions) that make them feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions). The repetitive behaviors, such as hand washing, checking on things or cleaning, can significantly interfere with a person’s daily activities and social interactions.”

Distressing thoughts or repetitive behaviors only become a concern if they start interfering with daily life and occur for at least an hour each day.

Are there disorders related to OCD?

  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder. This disorder is known for an obsession with physical form lasting many hours each day.
  • Hoarding Disorder. This disorder means you’re compelled to collect large quantities of useless or worthless items, paired with excessive distress at the notion of tossing anything away. In time, this could render your living space unhealthy or perilous to be in.
  • Hair-Pulling Disorder
  • Skin-Picking Disorder

Many symptoms of these and other mental health disorders can be managed.

Risk Factors

Risk factors may include:

  • Inheritance or genetics. If you have a blood relative with OCD, you may be at higher risk of developing it yourself.
  • How your brain is structured and functions, as studies have revealed variations in the subcortical structures and frontal cortex of the brain in people with OCD. But exact connections are murky.
  • Your environment growing up is a risk factor, as well as Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections.

Here’s What OCD Is Not

OCD features very specific behaviors centered around obsessions and compulsions, but certain personality quirks observed by casual observers and perhaps identified as OCD aren’t included in a formal diagnosis. These may include a penchant for collectibles (trading cards, comic books, toy figurines, etc.), fantasy sports or sports-related analytics, interest in celebrities (television and Hollywood stars, musical performers, etc.) or having a “crush” on said celebrity, closely following social media, or desire to own the latest mobile device.

Are OCD Thoughts True?

One of the key powers of OCD as a mental health super villain is its ability to convince someone exhibiting known symptoms that their thoughts are true. But that’s not the case. One of the reasons you may think your distressing or uninvited thoughts are real is because of how much time the average person spends each day in thought. According to psychologists at Harvard, most people spend nearly 47 percent of their day thinking of something not related to what they’re doing. All totaled, time spent in conscious thought in any day may be close to 70 percent.

OCD symptoms, in other words, cause many people to think continuously about what’s bothering them. 

Common OCD symptoms – obsessions:

  • Fear of becoming infected by someone or your surroundings
  • Unnerving prurient thoughts or images
  • Fear of shouting out vulgarities or insults
  • Intense concern with order, evenness, or precision
  • Repeated intrusive thoughts of noises, pictures, words, or numbers
  • Worry of losing or getting rid of something valuable

Common OCD symptoms – compulsions

  • Unnecessary or ritualized actions (brushing teeth, hand washing, showering, or using the toilet)
  • Continual cleaning of household items
  • Ordering or displaying things in a specific way
  • Continually checking appliances, or locks, switches 
  • Constantly seeking endorsement or reassurance
  • Repetitive counting to a specific number

Ketamine infusion may be one way to cope with OCD symptoms, but there are self-help techniques like being willing to accept risk, expecting the unexpected, it’s your responsibility, don’t waste time trying to stop thoughts, and many others.

Diagnosis & Treatment

Ways to diagnose OCD may include:

  • Psychological evaluation: talking about your thoughts, feelings, and behavior to see if you have obsessions or compulsive behaviors that inhibit your quality of living. If given permission, your doctor may talk to your friends or family.
  • Comparing your symptoms to criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, published by the American Psychiatric Association.
  • A physical exam to help rule out any ailment that could be triggering your symptoms and to look for any related problems.

After diagnosis, you may be treated with psychotherapy, certain medicine, or ketamine infusion therapy.

Final Thoughts

According to the U.S. National Institute of Health, about 1.2 percent of adults have OCD symptoms each year. That means you’re not alone, but it also means that resources are dedicated to learning about the condition and how it can be treated. Contact us today to learn more about treatments that can help you find relief.

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