The symptoms we experience with anxiety are real symptoms but they are not due to a real physical illness. Take a minute to think about what happens to your body when you’re having a panic/anxiety attack; it is in fear response mode. If you were in some kind of danger you would need to act quickly to defend yourself, that’s why we have a built-in fight-or-flight response that our body activates once we feel any type of threat.
When the body is very anxious the nervous system gives a signal to release certain hormones, (adrenaline and cortisol). When these are produced in the body, the heart-rate is stimulated, air passages and blood vessels dilate, as well as a number of more minor effects. You will start breathing very deeply without needing to do so and this will cause you to accumulate extra air in your chest and diaphragm area that you don’t need. (that is the reason you feel suffocated while you’re having a panic/anxiety attack) Eventually, this will cause pain because your chest is expanding beyond its limits and pushing on your rib cage.
During the fight or flight response especially, the body completely shuts off the digestive system because we don’t need it at that moment. Which is why our appetite is reduced when extremely anxious. The longer the food stays in the stomach the acid will back up in your oesophagus. This can cause chest pain, painful throat, nausea and even diarrhoea. Muscles tense up in preparation for impending action which can lead to stiffness and pain.
Common anxiety symptoms
- Unshakeable feelings of dread, apprehension, and irrational fears
- Heart palpitations
- Difficulty breathing or Hyperventilating
- Dizziness and feeling lightheaded
- Chest pains and other symptoms similar to those of a heart attack
- Inability to concentrate
- Chills and perhaps hot flushes
- Dry mouth
- Sense of impending doom
- Stomach cramps, diarrhoea, nausea and other intestinal symptoms
- Muscle tension, aches and pains
- Pins and needles
- Excessive sweating
- Dry mouth
- Painful throat
- Feelings of unreality
Some parts of the body are more sensitive to these than others which is why different people have different symptoms. It might be reassuring to know that all anxiety symptoms can be explained by the release of hormones in the system, incorrect breathing and the body preparing for the fight or flight response. Although these symptoms are unpleasant they will not harm us.
How can No Panic help?
No Panic specialises in self-help recovery and our services include:
Providing people with the skills they need to manage their condition and work towards recovery.
Our aim is to give you all of the necessary advice, tools and support that you will need to recover and carry out this journey. No Panic Recovery Programs