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Author Topic: How severe can anxiety symptoms be?  (Read 384 times)

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Offline Disaster_Dino

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How severe can anxiety symptoms be?
« on: May 22, 2014, 07:07:10 AM »
Just a quick question. Usually when I have symptoms caused by anxiety, they are dull, chronic pains that are pretty mild.

However, I was just wondering, how severe can anxiety symptoms be? Just how powerful is your brain?
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Offline Rob783

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Re: How severe can anxiety symptoms be?
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2014, 08:15:14 AM »
They can be as severe as your brain wants to make it.  People go to the ER all the time with panic attacks thinking they're having a heart attack.  Chest pains, shortness of breath, and tingling in the limbs are all anxiety systems as well as cardiac problems.  Anxiety sufferers tend to hyperventilate which causes a fainting sensation. Stress has also been linked to muscle twitching which makes people think they have MS or another neurological system.  For me personally anxiety can effect my balance when walking. 
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Offline 3r1cR0c9

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Re: How severe can anxiety symptoms be?
« Reply #2 on: May 23, 2014, 09:34:54 AM »
I think this will address your concerns :)

I just came across this awesome list of common body symptoms and explanations. It has made
me feel so much better. I wanted to share it in hopes that it might help some other people who
are struggling.

Anxiety & Panic Attacks Symptoms
It is not important to try and understand the physiology of the human body but it is important to
remember that each of the anxiety symptoms you experience can be explained. Do not dwell on
what you are feeling, instead, project yourself into more useful subjects, do something
constructive, exercise, learn a skill or craft and escape the body trap.
The following list of anxiety symptoms includes the most common ones reported by actual
anxiety sufferers. Whilst the list is fairly comprehensive, there may be symptoms that you
experience that are not listed; this does not mean that you are more ill or suffering from
something else, we are all biologically different in many ways and some people simply react
differently during anxiety.

Smothering sensations and Shortness of breath
These sensations are amongst the more distressing anxiety symptoms. Sometimes it feels as if
your chest will not expand to accommodate the air your body needs, other times it feels as if
someone is pushing a pillow into your face. The one thing to remember should you experience
this is that it is only a sensation caused by exaggerated nerve impulses. These symptoms will not
and cannot harm you; you will not stop breathing, pass out or suffocate.

Racing heart, slow heart beat, palpitations
Anxiety releases adrenaline into the blood stream making the heart race and feel as if it is
missing beats, (palpitations). This is perfectly natural and will not and cannot harm you in any
way. Later I will discuss methods you can use to help stop these feelings. A slow heart beat is
also a common feature of anxiety, again it does not mean that your heart will stop beating, it
may feel odd and alarming but again do not give it any credibility and it will go away.

Chest Pain
Caused by muscle tension, chest pains can make you feel very scared. The initial reaction of
anyone with anxiety who gets pains in their chest is that they are dying of a heart attack. This is
not true. Heart pain is very different to this pain and very often does not start in the chest. Deep
breathing and relaxation exercises are a very effective way of diminishing these unpleasant
symptoms. If you can get somebody to massage your upper back, shoulders and chest, it will
help to relax tired and achy muscles.

Lump in throat & Difficulty swallowing
Globus Hystericus is the correct term for this symptom. It is caused by the muscles in the throat
contracting due to anxiety or stress. Sometimes it feels like you cannot swallow anything and
trying to makes it worse. This is another example of a symptom, which will improve if you give it
no credibility. It is totally harmless and will not cause you to stop breathing, eating or drinking, it
is just very unpleasant.

Skin losing colour (blanching)
As blood is diverted to the muscles during the 'fight or flight' response, the fine blood vessels in
your skin that gives the skin that pink, healthy colour receive reduced blood flow and the skin
loses some of its colour. It is not dangerous and will return to normal as the body starts to
normalise after an attack. Some people with generalised anxiety can look a little pale most of the
time, again this is quite normal and will return to normal.

Sweating
Sweating is a normal bodily reaction and is designed to reduce the body temperature. As the
body heats up sweat is released onto it through sweat glands. As the sweat evaporates it takes
heat with it, cooling the body. During periods of anxiety the body is preparing itself for either
flight or fight and releases sweat to cool the impending exertions. As the anxiety subsides sweat
levels return to normal.

Shaking or shivering (Visibly or internally)
We all shake or shiver when we are nervous or cold. Shaking is a normal reaction to fear and/or
a drop in body temperature. Shaking occurs when the muscles spasmodically contract creating
friction between muscles and other body tissues. This friction creates heat which raises body
temperature. During anxiety it is quite normal to experience shaking or shivering. It will pass.

Neck & shoulder pain & numbness in face or head
The blood vessels and nerves, which supply the face and head, originate in the neck and
shoulders. Many of these nerves and blood vessels are routed across the head to the face. When
the body is under stress these areas of the body are usually the first to become tense. Facial
numbness can be very disturbing but is usually nothing to worry about and is usually the result
of this tension.

Rapid gastric emptying
This can be a very unpleasant side effect of both anxiety and tranquilliser use. This condition
causes the sufferer to feel full very early on in a meal, sometimes making them feel as if they
cannot breathe. Then soon after eating they can experience diarrhea and feel as if their whole
digestive system is emptying very quickly indeed.

Indigestion, heartburn, constipation and diarrhea
During periods of anxiety the body diverts blood from various parts of the body to the muscle
tissues in order to supply them with the oxygen needed by them during the flight or fight
response. One of the main areas where blood is used most is around the digestive tract. Blood is
sent there to absorb nutrients from the food we eat. As blood is diverted away from the stomach
during anxiety, the digestion slows and the muscles around the stomach can become knotted.
This can cause indigestion, heartburn and diarrhea or constipation.

Sexual Dysfunction
Impotency, or failure to achieve or maintain an erection, effects many men for many reasons,
sometimes there is a physical reason for this but more often than not there is a psychological
element.

Symptoms of urinary tract infection
Medication can have many and some times quite obscure side effects including the symptoms of
a urinary tract infections. It is always advisable to get these things checked out by your doctor
but even if you do have an infection it can be easily treated. Drinking plenty of water is always
advisable to maintain good, general health but even more so when the body is under stress.

Skin rashes
Skin rashes, spots or dryness are all very common symptoms of anxiety and stress. It is quite
common to get an eczema like rash around the nose, cheeks and forehead. They are nothing to
worry about and usually disappear when you start to feel better.

Weakness in arms & tingling in the hands or feet
The flight or fight response is an intense reaction and causes many systems of the body to react.
Circulation, blood oxygen and blood carbon dioxide levels change and muscle tension is altered
in preparation for action. All of these bodily changes have a profound effect on bodily sensations,
feeling week in the extremities, (arms, hands, legs or feet) is one of these sensations.
Tingling is usually caused by the pooling of blood carbon dioxide in the limbs, shaking the hands,
arms, legs and feet can help increase circulation to these areas. These symptoms are not
harmful and will return to normal. Light exercise is very helpful in reversing these sensations.
THEY DO NOT MEAN YOU ARE EXPERIENCING A STROKE OR ANY OTHER NEUROLOGICAL
CONDITION!

Electric shock feeling anywhere in the body
The nervous system is a very complex network of electrically charged nerves which are found in
every square centimeter of your body, around every organ, muscle and across your skin, the
largest organ in the body. Abnormal nerve impulses due to anxiety can cause a vast array of
strange sensations; although quite harmless these can be very disturbing.

Dry mouth
As fluids are diverted for use in other parts of the body during anxiety, the mouth becomes dry.
Sip water or suck sweets to lubricate your mouth. In extreme cases your doctor can prescribe a
liquid to do this but it is expensive. It cannot harm you and will go away after the anxiety
subsides.

Insomnia
One of the more distressing effects of anxiety, insomnia is the inability to fall asleep or to remain
asleep. It is important to regain regular sleep patterns as lack of sleep can lead to disturbing
symptoms.

Nightmares
Dreams and nightmares tend to mimic what is going on in our daily lives. If we are relaxed and
contented we have pleasant dreams and usually do not remember them. If we are disturbed or
confused our dreams are more likely to be too. Nightmares are unpleasant but harmless, the
more you master good sleep and practice breathing and relaxation exercises the better your
dreams will become.

Fears of going mad or losing control
We all have a fear of going mad or losing control but rest assured you are not going mad. Going
mad is not a conscious act; those who are suffering from severe mental illness are unaware of
their journey into it. You are not going mad. Confused nervous messages to the brain along tired
nerves in a tired body do not constitute madness.
Thoughts are an unconscious product of brain activity. If you are anxious, angry, sad or stressed
your thoughts are affected, not only by mood, but also by your physical body chemistry. Blood
oxygen levels can affect brain activity and the central nervous system, as can many other bodily
chemicals like adrenaline, hormones and even vitamins. These un-pleasant thoughts, emotions
and totally irrational fears are not harmful to yourself or others. Any thoughts of harming
yourself or other people are perceived only. As you body becomes more relaxed and less anxious
your thought processes will return to normal.

Increased depression & suicidal feelings
Depression is a word that is commonly misused to describe a variety of conditions. I hear many
people in every day life who say, "I am depressed, I feel terrible, I am so fed up". This is, in
most cases, not depression. Depression is a series of chemical imbalances that create a clinical
illness that has strong links with anxiety disorders and can be a side effect of them. Anxiety has
many features of depression and can mimic it quite strongly. When someone goes to the doctor
complaining of feeling run down and fed up, it is all too easy to write a prescription for Prozac,
Seroxat or another anti-depressant. I wonder how many people are on anti-depressants who just
needed to reassess and restructure their lives.

Aggression
When you feel tired, ill, fed up and held back by your condition you are bound to feel angry. One
of the main causes of true anger is actually sadness. Think back to a situation that has made you
feel anger, if you dissect that event you might find that the true reason for feeling so angry was
a feeling of sadness. Aggression is a normal reaction to fear also, the fight or flight response
prepares us to either run or fight, sometimes to fight may seem to be the best response.

Symptoms like 'flu'
Influenza causes the body to release anti-bodies into the blood stream to attack the virus. This
combination of anti-bodies and infection makes the body feel weak, sweaty and painful. Anxiety
can have a similar effect, weakening the muscles, making you clammy and achy. Believe it or
not the more you do physically the better this will become.

Distorted vision
In order to prepare the body for impending danger, adrenaline release causes many physical
changes. During the anxiety response the body prepares the eyes to notice any slight
movements; it does this by dilating the pupils allowing more light to enter. This is why anxious
people become more sensitive to bright light and often wear sunglasses to minimize the
eyestrain it causes.

Disturbed hearing
This is called tinitus and is usually experienced as whistling or screeching noises in either or both
ears.

Hormone problems
Anxiety can affect various systems of the body, one of which is the endocrine system. This
system is responsible for balancing the glands, which secrete hormones in the body. Although
these glands secrete the hormones needed by the body, they do not control the levels of these
chemicals, this is done by the brain. Disturbed messages in the brain and nervous system can
cause slight irregularities in the secretion of these chemicals.
When anxiety levels return to normal so will the hormone levels. There are few examples where
these hormones cause serious problems and if they do your doctor can correct them.
Women may find that their menstrual cycle is temporarily effected and men may find that they
have mood swings whilst testosterone levels are affected.

Headaches & feelings of having a tight band around head
As discussed earlier, tension in the neck and shoulders can cause immense discomfort, migraine
and numbness. The feeling of having a tight band around your head is caused by muscular
tension in the sheath of muscles covering the skull. Restricted blood vessels and nerves within
this tissue can cause very severe symptoms including pain in the eyes, face and teeth.

Sore eyes
Reduced lubrication in the eyes when body fluids are diverted elsewhere during anxiety causes
the eyes to feel sore, dry and painful.

Agoraphobia
Agoraphobia is a natural response to anxiety and self-preservation. If we feel threatened we tend
to retreat to somewhere safe, like a tortoise into its shell. In anxiety it is important to gain
control of this response as soon as you feel it developing. Avoidance of situations is not an
effective tool in the fight against agoraphobia.

Hallucinations
Mostly experienced by people in withdrawal, hallucinations can be very frightening indeed if you
do not understand what they are and where they come from. Hallucinations are another example
of transient symptoms. If you are in withdrawal they will pass, if you are not in withdrawal
consult your doctor, as they may be a side effect of the drugs that you have been prescribed.

Creeping or pins and needles sensations in The skin
The nerve endings in your skin are alive with electrical impulses, these can feel like creeping
sensations, pins and needles or tickling, they are the result of confused nerve impulses and
cannot harm you.

Increased sensitivity to light, sound, touch, and smell
All of these sensitivities are to prepare your senses to see, smell, hear and feel more when in
impending danger during the fight or flight response. All of these feeling are unusual but not
dangerous, they are temporary and will return to normal as your anxiety levels reduce.

Hyperactivity
Hyperactivity is a way of describing a range of symptoms that cause you to feel as if you need to
talk faster and do things faster. It can make you feel confused and irrational and can make you
do things that you would not usually do. This is a common feature of anxiety and drug
withdrawal and will pass in time.

Dramatic increase in sexual feelings
As the brain copes with disturbed and confused messages from all around the body, some of the
mind's thought processes can become a little distorted or exaggerated. Sexual thoughts and
emotions are typically very strong even when in good health, they are what drive the attraction
mechanism when we meet people we find attractive and create the sexual feelings we feel for
some people.

Pain in the face or jaw that resembles a toothache
The term 'face ache' comes from this feature of anxiety. Most of this symptom is caused by
tension, not only in the face, neck and shoulders, which can refer pain to the jaw and teeth, but
also in the jaw itself.

Derealization and depersonalization
These are both symptoms, which affect the way you experience yourself. derealization is the
sensation that you and everything around you is not real or dreamy, as if you are seeing
everything through a fog or some kind of filter. It has been noticed that people experience both
depersonalization and derealization during panic. It seems that some people dissociate first
which then causes panic and derealization.
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Offline jilllayy

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Re: How severe can anxiety symptoms be?
« Reply #3 on: May 23, 2014, 09:42:53 AM »
Take it from me. VERY SEVERE! I am currently suffering thinking I am going to die from some neurological disease because that is how my symptoms manifest! although my neurologist has tested me under the sun and i am in the clear ... for now (as my anxiety brain says)!
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Offline Callum_E

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Re: How severe can anxiety symptoms be?
« Reply #4 on: May 23, 2014, 10:06:05 AM »
3r1cR0c9. That list is missing"Fatigue" which can also be brought on badly with anxiety...I know from my own experience, I currently have bad fatigue from it.
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Offline 3r1cR0c9

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Re: How severe can anxiety symptoms be?
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2014, 06:35:32 AM »
Callum_E -- i only got this from another forum. i know there are plenty not on the list. i also have fatigue issues.
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Offline marc

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Re: How severe can anxiety symptoms be?
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2014, 08:23:03 AM »
They can be debilitating.
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Online NeverAgain2

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Re: How severe can anxiety symptoms be?
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2014, 10:03:25 AM »
It's a good thing you are aware that you dull aches and pains are caused by your anxiety.  I did not know when they started.  I just woke up one morning with a stiff shoulder (not long after a surgery) and went from doc to doc, with each one giving me an even worse diagnosis.

Long story short, I had to not only deal with the stiff muscles, which became much worse with each doctor's diagnosis, but I became afraid of the symptoms and the pain.  I was virtually crippled.  I could not make a spontaneous movement: I had to anticipate the pain that each movement will and of course then did bring.  Believe me, anxiety symptoms, if undiagnosed or if the anxiety is untreated -- or both-- can lead to complete disability and, yes, even death.  There were days the pain was so bad that I would think of driving my car into a concrete wall.   Nothing worked on the pain, either, except Ativan, which doctors did not want to prescribe, for fear I'd become an addict.  I guess better a dead, non-addict than a live, healing individual.

Unfortunately, mental health counseling that understands psychogenic pain is almost non-existent.  Had it not been for forums like this and others, plus the works of Dr. Abraham Low, I would not have recovered.

Anxiety can kill.
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Offline perpetualrebound

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Re: How severe can anxiety symptoms be?
« Reply #8 on: June 08, 2014, 10:26:31 AM »
I noticed too that many of those symptoms cause your body to do things that you normally would do, like sit in an awkward postion, rub a certain area or something like that. That can also lead to some strange sensations. especially when you are fixated on them. Good list, thank you for posting.
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Online thenomnomnomicon

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Re: How severe can anxiety symptoms be?
« Reply #9 on: June 08, 2014, 05:22:12 PM »
Anxiety can compete symptomatically with major illness.

Currently I'm in the worst pain I have ever been through in my life. Also the longest-lasting.

I agree with NeverAgain. This can definitely lead to suicidal ideations. It is a shame that anxiety is treated as 'just' anxiety.

There is no 'just' about it.
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Online NeverAgain2

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Re: How severe can anxiety symptoms be?
« Reply #10 on: June 08, 2014, 06:38:32 PM »
Anxiety can compete symptomatically with major illness.

Currently I'm in the worst pain I have ever been through in my life. Also the longest-lasting.

I agree with NeverAgain. This can definitely lead to suicidal ideations. It is a shame that anxiety is treated as 'just' anxiety.

There is no 'just' about it.

Have you been able to find help? DYI can be long and frustrating.
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Offline greend

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Re: How severe can anxiety symptoms be?
« Reply #11 on: June 08, 2014, 07:43:21 PM »
I agree with neveragain and Marc, anxiety symptoms can be devastating and debilitating.
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