Effects of anxiety on the brain

Anxiety is a normal human emotion, but if stress levels get high, it can lead to a medical disorder in some individuals. For example, it’s quite normal for an individual to experience butterflies in the stomach before an interview but an entirely different case altogether if it alters their blood pressure levels and makes them nauseous. But those who suffer from an anxiety disorder have an extreme response to stressful situations which can have a devastating effect on their physical and mental health in the long run.

When a person is anxious, their mental health deteriorates as anxiety damages their brain. This can also lead to anxiety depression. While the nerves are not physically damaged, it puts a heavy toll on the human body.

Neurological anxiety can be a symptom or reaction to a neurological disorder, and it occurs in a person suffering from a neurologic illness.

Anxiety Disorder can affect a person in a number of ways, where some people may experience high blood pressure and nausea.

In cases when a person suffers from an anxiety disorder, they may experience heightened feelings like excessive fear, nervousness and worry. While anxiety is not a medical condition, it can cause distress to those suffering from the problem.


Effects of Anxiety on the brain and body

1. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

This is a mental health condition caused by experiencing or witnessing a frightening event and its symptoms may include flashbacks, nightmares and severe anxiety.

2. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

People with OCD desire to perform certain tasks in a specific manner or can get undesired thoughts which can be distressing. The nature of achieving it can be repetitive or even aggressive.

3. Panic disorder

A constant feeling of fear, attack and aggressive anxiety can cause a panic attack. This attack can cause shortness of breath and chest pain. It can happen at any time.

4. Social anxiety disorder

Social anxiety disorder or social phobia is a condition where a person is fearful of being judged by others and is self-conscious. A lot of people go unnoticed for suffering from this disorder and need the right treatment for this problem.

Depression, Anxiety and Panic Attacks are not neurological conditions. However, their symptoms can lead to a neurological disorder.

Anxiety is a reaction or Symptom of a Neurological disorder, but to determine its actual nature, a person needs to consult a physician.

The best way to diagnose anxiety is to conduct a physical examination and medical tests where the doctor asks the patient about his problems, the medications they are taking, to make an informed decision. For example, the doctor needs to be sure that anxiety disorder is not the side effect of certain medication.

effects of anxiety on the brain

Diagnosis of General Anxiety disorder

  • A physical exam to know the effect of existing medication or the presence of any existing medical condition.
  • Blood and other tests to determine any medical condition.
  • Questions about symptoms, medications and any past medical history.
  • Using a questionnaire to determine a diagnosis.

How to overcome anxiety?

The very first step in dealing with anxiety is recognizing the triggers. It could be anything from a new responsibility, work-related stress, death of a loved one, public speaking, phobias, among others. It could also be genetic or the side-effect of an underlying disease/ medication. In this case, one should consult a physician to determine what is causing their anxiety. Identifying and acknowledging these triggers will help one manage anxiety better.

Since anxiety is a natural response of our body to a stressful situation, there are natural ways to deal with it, like practising mindful activities – stretching, meditation, dancing, among others. It can include any activity that has proved useful in diverting one’s mind off from a stressful situation. Taking time off your daily routine for such activities can also help you considerably. However, if anxiety continues to elevate and reach excessive levels, it is now the right time to visit a doctor.

Usually, anxiety comes and goes, and while an optimal amount of anxiety is necessary for survival, anxiety in excessive amounts can lead to chronic clinical conditions. And one can know if anxiety is a problem if it takes a toll on the body causing headaches, upset stomach, shortness of breath, tingling, numbness, dizziness, insomnia, which are amongst the most common symptoms of excessive anxiety.

If this is the case, one requires immediate medical attention. Medical treatments consist of therapies like cognitive behavioural therapy or psychotherapy along with medication to keep anxiety’s symptomatic effects at bay.

Medical science has progressed and there are a lot of ways to treat even the most severe cases of anxiety. Once a person struggling from this problem finds the best way that works for him/ her, life becomes less daunting and he/ she can go back to living normally.