6 Little-Known Effects of Anxiety on Your Body

· May 22, 2017
If not managed properly, the effects of anxiety on your body can be harmful. It's important to address the problem at its root.

Isolated anxiety, the kind that lasts for a few hours or days due to a worry or short-term, stressful challenge doesn’t have serious consequences on your body. However, when anxiety remains over time and is not managed the effects of anxiety on your body could be harmful.

Today, we’d like to talk about the harmful health problems that come from neglecting the real root of the problem: your underlying anxiety.

1. Dilated pupils

A dilated pupil.

We mean pupil dilation that is not related to a reaction to low light. If you’re suffering from severe anxiety, it’s a symptom of an underlying problem that needs to be understood and treated.

Having dilated pupils could imply, among other things, that you are in a state of alert.

When your anxiety levels are high, it’s common to experience this unusual symptom that can trigger anything from dizziness to seeing strange lights around you to reduced vision.

Learn about What Your Eye Color May Say About Your Health

2. Trouble swallowing

Trouble swallowing while eating or drinking is another very common symptom.

This symptom is called dysphagia and is a clear sign of anxiety. It is related to your saliva-producing glands.

Don’t forget that anxiety has a very concrete purpose: preparing you to flee.

Therefore, your body’s primary goal is to retain fluids in order to support your muscles, because your muscles are what will help you run away. In addition, the fluid is needed for sweat.

If you don’t have saliva in your mouth due to anxiety, it’s hard to chew food and thus swallow.

3. Headaches are one of the effects of anxiety on your body

Headaches are one of the effects of anxiety on your body.

Anxiety makes all of the veins and arteries in your body contract for a very specific reason: to get more blood to your muscles.

Your circulation, then, becomes stronger and this encourages vasoconstriction, which leads to the classic headache.

This kind of headache is most common in the first few hours of the day and in the afternoon.

Read this, too: When Should We Start Worrying About Headaches?

4. Jaw pain is one of the effects of anxiety on your body

Anxiety and stress tend to settle more in certain parts of your body than in others. We’re  talking, of course, about your neck, shoulders, back, and jaw.

If you notice jaw pain that is worse in the morning and goes all the way to your ears, you probably have stress-induced bruxism. In other words, you’re grinding your teeth at night due to stress and anxiety.

You should see your doctor, because while a mouth guard can help, it’s best to work out the root causes of your anxiety are so you can manage it properly.

5. Going to the bathroom more than usual

It’s happens to all of us at some point: you get to a situation that causes anxiety, like a test or job interview, and you have to go to the bathroom several times.

It’s common, but it’s also one of the most interesting effects of anxiety on your body. That’s because when you’re anxious, your kidneys actually produce less urine. Why? For the reason we just mentioned: your body is trying to retain fluids for your muscles.

But in order to shed unnecessary weight so you can flee more quickly, your brain tells your body to go to the bathroom in order to eliminate urine, even though it gets you to the bathroom enough times that only “a few drops” come out.

6. A surreal feeling: the sense that everything around you isn’t real or you aren’t a part of what you see

A dizzying feeling is one of the effects of anxiety on your body.

It may seem strange, but if you have gone through a moment of intense anxiety or stress you’ll know what we’re talking about.

It’s when you suddenly feel the sensation that everything around you isn’t real. It’s like seeing the world from the outside and not feeling like you’re in it.

Where does this come from? Well, first of all, if this happens to you often you should tell your doctor.

Intense anxiety affects your lungs. You breathe rapidly, and when too much oxygen builds up, you usually experience two things: the first is hyperventilation, and the second may be this surreal feeling.

Your brain isn’t properly processing the situation and causes the sensation.

In conclusion, you’ve probably noticed at least one of these effects of anxiety on your body before. It’s not a problem if it’s happened once or twice, but it can be dangerous if they are common and recurring.

Seek help, talk to your doctor, and start managing your anxiety. Do it before the effects of anxiety on your body become too serious.

Principal image courtesy of wikihow.com

Peavler, W. S. (1974). Pupil Size, Information Overload, and Performance Differences. Psychophysiology. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8986.1974.tb01114.x

Sarro, E. C., Sullivan, R. M., & Barr, G. (2014). Unpredictable neonatal stress enhances adult anxiety and alters amygdala gene expression related to serotonin and GABA. Neuroscience. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroscience.2013.10.064