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Author Topic: How long does it take for physical symptoms to go away?  (Read 255 times)

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Offline Mairi

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How long does it take for physical symptoms to go away?
« on: June 21, 2014, 10:56:40 PM »
 Let me explain. Say you are someone who experiences physical symptoms that are caused by anxiety, and you suddenly stop being anxious for good. How long after you stop being anxious does it take for physical symptoms to go away? How long can they still last after your anxiety is gone? Days? Weeks? Months?
 I've been having really bad shortness of breath for the past few months along with some other symptoms that my doctors say are all from anxiety. I've been to the doctor three times because of my symptoms and each time I've been told it's all anxiety-caused. This is why I'm asking this question- Lately the trouble breathing has really been bugging me. I woke up on Tues. morning after a wakeful sleep and my breathing felt ok. It was then that I decided that I was not going to have shortness of breath ever again and that I wasn't scared of my symptoms, and if I got through a whole day without having shortness of breath just because I decided I didn't have it anymore, than it really was caused by anxiety. And so, that whole day, I felt fine. And the next. And the next. And most of the next. (I didn't really decide I would be done with my other symptoms, since those don't bother me as much, but they were gone too.) But last night my shortness of breath came back, and it is back today again along with my other symptoms (dizziness, brain fog, feeling too hot). Also, I actually have a few new symptoms too- a burning sensation in chest and a tingling pain in chest. These 2 new ones occur seperatley. The shortness of breath feels , again, too bad to be anxiety. The thing is that I haven't been anxious ever since I decided I'd never have trouble breathing again (which I've still been telling myself but it's not working now). Maybe the symptoms came back because I've had a slight cold since yesterday and I've been sort of afraid of it going into my lungs? Why do I feel bad again, even though I haven't been anxious for a few days? Do these new symptoms sound like they're from anxiety to you?
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Offline thenomnomnomicon

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Re: How long does it take for physical symptoms to go away?
« Reply #1 on: June 21, 2014, 11:37:23 PM »
I can only speak from personal experience:

I've been fairly anxiety-free for about 2 weeks and have had my current symptoms for a little over two months. The symptoms have reduced since their advent, but I still feel like I'm probably another two months from being entirely symptom-free (I hope and assuming that it is anxiety).

I don't think there really is a set period of time that need expire and it's highly individualized.

There's only one real way to know for sure if it's anxiety, and that's time and working on your fears. I've had very little success in overcoming specific fears and realised I needed to confront the fear of uncertainty itself.
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Re: How long does it take for physical symptoms to go away?
« Reply #2 on: June 22, 2014, 02:26:42 PM »
It was then that I decided that I was not going to have shortness of breath ever again and that I wasn't scared of my symptoms, and if I got through a whole day without having shortness of breath just because I decided I didn't have it anymore, than it really was caused by anxiety.

Oh, if only anxiety worked that way.

There's a huge mind-body connection when it comes to anxiety, but for a second, let's just look at the physical part.

The body becomes symptomatic when stress hormone levels reach a certain point. The very simplistic answer to your original question is that the body will remain symptomatic as long as stress hormone levels remain high. Getting them back down to pre-reactive levels can take a while (sometimes a LONG while), because after-all, your body didn't become symptomatic overnight, so stress levels aren't going to go back down overnight.

What trips a lot of us up, I think, is that often, we don't "feel stressed," yet our bodies remain symptomatic, which makes us believe that something other than anxiety is causing it.

This is where the mind element comes in. While stress levels remain high (which can happen for quite sometime), our bodies can and will exhibit stress symptoms, and those symptoms manifest themselves however they want—we don't have control over what happens.

But, we do have control over how we react—which is key. Each time we experience a stress symptom—a palpitation, shortness of breath, dizziness, tingling, you name it—we CHOOSE, whether we realize we're making a choice, to either react fearfully or not. Believing that your heart palpitation is a sign of impending heart failure is an example of reacting fearfully, and each time we react fearfully, we inadvertently cause our stress hormones to increase, which only causes the body to remain symptomatic longer. Conversely, if you experience a heart palpitation, and accept that it's just a symptom of your anxiety and not caused by something awful, you give your body a chance to calm down—and if you do this enough, stress hormones will go back below reactive levels.

So, for you to decide that you're no longer going to react fearfully to your shortness of breath is GREAT. That's exactly the mindset that's needed. However, it's not realistic to say, "I'm going to give it a day, and if it doesn't happen, it must be anxiety." Because again, while your body's in a reactive state, it will remain symptomatic, and you don't have control over what it does. The only thing you can do, when your shortness of breath returns, is to say, "this is my anxiety; it's just anxiety, it can't hurt me, I will accept it as such and try not to worry." That's about all you can do. With ANY symptom.

This is not an easy change to make, by the way. It's a process that can take months, and progress is not a straight line. As you do practice acceptance, you'll find that your body becomes less reactive over time, but if/when it acts up again, it's important to remember to keep accepting the fact that anxiety is behind the symptoms you feel. It's also important to accept the fact that there will be instances that you do freak out, that you do go back to your old way of thinking—again, it's a process, and so may of us anxious types would do well to give ourselves some grace to not expect perfect, 180-degree changes right away. It's a matter of changing the way you think, which can take a long time.

For me, I had chronic, high-level, symptomatic anxiety for about eight months. Even when I finally accepted it all as anxiety, I still had shortness of breath, dizziness, twitching, and a host of digestive issues that lasted for quite a few months afterward before they all fully subsided. Still, several years after this time, I find that my body reacts negatively to stress MUCH more easily than it ever did before. But this is just how my body is now, and I have to accept that.

Mairi, you have the right idea. But don't expect miracles to happen overnight. As great as it might be to think that making that one decision to no longer fear your symptoms is going to bring about instant change, it won't. Making that decision is the FIRST step in the process. I know we all want the fear to go away, the worry, the scary symptoms—of course, symptom mitigation is very normal—but again, it's not realistic when held up against how anxiety truly affects the body. Keep up what you're doing, and have patience. From experience, I KNOW it's possible to get over anxiety, it just takes time.
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In case anyone is still confused:  googling your symptoms will cause you to remain in a state of extreme anxiety. Stepping away from the internet is the first step toward lasting peace.

Offline Disaster_Dino

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Re: How long does it take for physical symptoms to go away?
« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2014, 09:43:38 PM »
It was then that I decided that I was not going to have shortness of breath ever again and that I wasn't scared of my symptoms, and if I got through a whole day without having shortness of breath just because I decided I didn't have it anymore, than it really was caused by anxiety.

Oh, if only anxiety worked that way.

There's a huge mind-body connection when it comes to anxiety, but for a second, let's just look at the physical part.

The body becomes symptomatic when stress hormone levels reach a certain point. The very simplistic answer to your original question is that the body will remain symptomatic as long as stress hormone levels remain high. Getting them back down to pre-reactive levels can take a while (sometimes a LONG while), because after-all, your body didn't become symptomatic overnight, so stress levels aren't going to go back down overnight.

What trips a lot of us up, I think, is that often, we don't "feel stressed," yet our bodies remain symptomatic, which makes us believe that something other than anxiety is causing it.

This is where the mind element comes in. While stress levels remain high (which can happen for quite sometime), our bodies can and will exhibit stress symptoms, and those symptoms manifest themselves however they want—we don't have control over what happens.

But, we do have control over how we react—which is key. Each time we experience a stress symptom—a palpitation, shortness of breath, dizziness, tingling, you name it—we CHOOSE, whether we realize we're making a choice, to either react fearfully or not. Believing that your heart palpitation is a sign of impending heart failure is an example of reacting fearfully, and each time we react fearfully, we inadvertently cause our stress hormones to increase, which only causes the body to remain symptomatic longer. Conversely, if you experience a heart palpitation, and accept that it's just a symptom of your anxiety and not caused by something awful, you give your body a chance to calm down—and if you do this enough, stress hormones will go back below reactive levels.

So, for you to decide that you're no longer going to react fearfully to your shortness of breath is GREAT. That's exactly the mindset that's needed. However, it's not realistic to say, "I'm going to give it a day, and if it doesn't happen, it must be anxiety." Because again, while your body's in a reactive state, it will remain symptomatic, and you don't have control over what it does. The only thing you can do, when your shortness of breath returns, is to say, "this is my anxiety; it's just anxiety, it can't hurt me, I will accept it as such and try not to worry." That's about all you can do. With ANY symptom.

This is not an easy change to make, by the way. It's a process that can take months, and progress is not a straight line. As you do practice acceptance, you'll find that your body becomes less reactive over time, but if/when it acts up again, it's important to remember to keep accepting the fact that anxiety is behind the symptoms you feel. It's also important to accept the fact that there will be instances that you do freak out, that you do go back to your old way of thinking—again, it's a process, and so may of us anxious types would do well to give ourselves some grace to not expect perfect, 180-degree changes right away. It's a matter of changing the way you think, which can take a long time.

For me, I had chronic, high-level, symptomatic anxiety for about eight months. Even when I finally accepted it all as anxiety, I still had shortness of breath, dizziness, twitching, and a host of digestive issues that lasted for quite a few months afterward before they all fully subsided. Still, several years after this time, I find that my body reacts negatively to stress MUCH more easily than it ever did before. But this is just how my body is now, and I have to accept that.

Mairi, you have the right idea. But don't expect miracles to happen overnight. As great as it might be to think that making that one decision to no longer fear your symptoms is going to bring about instant change, it won't. Making that decision is the FIRST step in the process. I know we all want the fear to go away, the worry, the scary symptoms—of course, symptom mitigation is very normal—but again, it's not realistic when held up against how anxiety truly affects the body. Keep up what you're doing, and have patience. From experience, I KNOW it's possible to get over anxiety, it just takes time.

This post really helped me understand my anxiety. It would explain why my symptoms came back again. I was stressed out about a few things before they returned.
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Offline noella6

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Re: How long does it take for physical symptoms to go away?
« Reply #4 on: June 22, 2014, 09:55:34 PM »
In my experience they don't 'go away' so much as you alter your responses to them.

And eventually they become background noise. If you see what I mean? Like non threatening, so you barely notice them as your sensitivity to them is greatly reduced.

My issue is that new symptoms come thick and fast so I am always dodging the bullet. I get over one and another takes its place.

 :(
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Offline Mairi

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Re: How long does it take for physical symptoms to go away?
« Reply #5 on: June 24, 2014, 02:03:15 AM »
It was then that I decided that I was not going to have shortness of breath ever again and that I wasn't scared of my symptoms, and if I got through a whole day without having shortness of breath just because I decided I didn't have it anymore, than it really was caused by anxiety.

Oh, if only anxiety worked that way.

There's a huge mind-body connection when it comes to anxiety, but for a second, let's just look at the physical part.

The body becomes symptomatic when stress hormone levels reach a certain point. The very simplistic answer to your original question is that the body will remain symptomatic as long as stress hormone levels remain high. Getting them back down to pre-reactive levels can take a while (sometimes a LONG while), because after-all, your body didn't become symptomatic overnight, so stress levels aren't going to go back down overnight.

What trips a lot of us up, I think, is that often, we don't "feel stressed," yet our bodies remain symptomatic, which makes us believe that something other than anxiety is causing it.

This is where the mind element comes in. While stress levels remain high (which can happen for quite sometime), our bodies can and will exhibit stress symptoms, and those symptoms manifest themselves however they want—we don't have control over what happens.

But, we do have control over how we react—which is key. Each time we experience a stress symptom—a palpitation, shortness of breath, dizziness, tingling, you name it—we CHOOSE, whether we realize we're making a choice, to either react fearfully or not. Believing that your heart palpitation is a sign of impending heart failure is an example of reacting fearfully, and each time we react fearfully, we inadvertently cause our stress hormones to increase, which only causes the body to remain symptomatic longer. Conversely, if you experience a heart palpitation, and accept that it's just a symptom of your anxiety and not caused by something awful, you give your body a chance to calm down—and if you do this enough, stress hormones will go back below reactive levels.

So, for you to decide that you're no longer going to react fearfully to your shortness of breath is GREAT. That's exactly the mindset that's needed. However, it's not realistic to say, "I'm going to give it a day, and if it doesn't happen, it must be anxiety." Because again, while your body's in a reactive state, it will remain symptomatic, and you don't have control over what it does. The only thing you can do, when your shortness of breath returns, is to say, "this is my anxiety; it's just anxiety, it can't hurt me, I will accept it as such and try not to worry." That's about all you can do. With ANY symptom.

This is not an easy change to make, by the way. It's a process that can take months, and progress is not a straight line. As you do practice acceptance, you'll find that your body becomes less reactive over time, but if/when it acts up again, it's important to remember to keep accepting the fact that anxiety is behind the symptoms you feel. It's also important to accept the fact that there will be instances that you do freak out, that you do go back to your old way of thinking—again, it's a process, and so may of us anxious types would do well to give ourselves some grace to not expect perfect, 180-degree changes right away. It's a matter of changing the way you think, which can take a long time.

For me, I had chronic, high-level, symptomatic anxiety for about eight months. Even when I finally accepted it all as anxiety, I still had shortness of breath, dizziness, twitching, and a host of digestive issues that lasted for quite a few months afterward before they all fully subsided. Still, several years after this time, I find that my body reacts negatively to stress MUCH more easily than it ever did before. But this is just how my body is now, and I have to accept that.

Mairi, you have the right idea. But don't expect miracles to happen overnight. As great as it might be to think that making that one decision to no longer fear your symptoms is going to bring about instant change, it won't. Making that decision is the FIRST step in the process. I know we all want the fear to go away, the worry, the scary symptoms—of course, symptom mitigation is very normal—but again, it's not realistic when held up against how anxiety truly affects the body. Keep up what you're doing, and have patience. From experience, I KNOW it's possible to get over anxiety, it just takes time.
Thanks so much for this reply. My breathing troubles got really bad again and I was freaking out, but then I saw your reply and it helped me calm down a little. Sorry I replied late.
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