5 Ways Anxiety Can Affect Your Physical Health

The Article is Developed in Partnership with BetterHelp.

Anxiety is a common topic of conversation in today’s world, where more and more individuals are struggling with maintaining mental wellness. However, when people talk about anxiety, they normally are only concerned with its mental health effects, neglecting to mention that it can have plenty of physical health effects as well. Keep reading to learn more about the potential impact of anxiety on the body and why understanding these effects can be important.

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a strong, persistent feeling of dread, worry, or unease. Although it can be helpful in that it warns us of potential danger or threats to our safety, too much of it can be detrimental to our well-being, causing us to be in flight-or-fight mode on a regular basis.

Those with anxiety disorders experience anxiety consistently and have difficulty controlling their symptoms. Types of anxiety disorders include panic disorder, phobias, generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, PTSD, and social anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders develop for different reasons. For example, phobias may stem from childhood trauma, while PTSD often affects veterans. Anxiety disorders are often treatable with the right tools and support. To learn more about treatment for anxiety disorders like PTSD, you can visit this link: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/counseling/the-path-to-healing-with-therapy-and-counseling-for-veterans.

5 Ways Anxiety Can Impact Physical Health

While anxiety has numerous mental health effects, it can also impact your physical health in the following ways:

  1. Sleep issues: Getting enough sleep at night can be crucial to mental wellness, but this can be challenging when you’re experiencing anxiety. Anxiety can keep you awake at night due to intrusive and worrisome thoughts and cause you to wake up multiple times even when you are finally able to drift off to sleep. Sleeping issues like insomnia can lead to a higher risk of heart and kidney disease, cause your blood pressure to soar, make you more prone to developing diabetes, and increase your propensity to obesity and stroke.
  2. Chronic pain: Experiencing frequent anxiety can cause you to unknowingly tense your muscles, making it difficult to unwind and relax. This can lead to chronic pain, such as headaches, sore shoulders, or a tensed neck or back. Chronic pain may make it difficult to get through the day and cause you to be more fatigued and have less energy than usual.
  3. Digestive problems: Anxiety can make it difficult to eat, and even when you’re able to get some food down, you may have stomachaches or pains. The gut and brain are connected, which explains this phenomenon. However, worrying about the impact of anxiety on your stomach often only worsens these symptoms. Putting your focus on alleviating your anxiety can cause the stomach issues to go away.
  4. Heart conditions: Anxiety can cause a rapid heart rate, high blood pressure, and inflammation, potentially leading to heart conditions like heart disease or cardiac arrest over time. This is typically due to the buildup of plaque in the arteries and the body being in a constant state of distress. Additionally, when the typical rhythm of the heart is disrupted, it can cause palpitations or arrhythmias, which may contribute to heart rhythm disorders.
  5. Breathing concerns: Frequently experiencing anxiety can contribute to breathing concerns like asthma. When you’re experiencing anxiety, you tend to breathe faster and deeper, which can lead to hyperventilation and symptoms like dizziness and shortness of breath. In some cases, panic attacks may even occur. Further, because of the tension anxiety can create in your chest, you might have difficulty breathing as usual. If you already have breathing concerns or conditions like COPD, anxiety may only worsen their symptoms.

Other potential outcomes of anxiety on the body are possible. If you suspect that your health problems could be a product of your anxiety, it can be critical to speak with a medical doctor.


Living with anxiety can be a challenge, but there are ways to manage and overcome its symptoms. Treatment for anxiety often involves a combination of therapy and medication, as well as lifestyle changes. However, every situation is unique. Connecting with a mental health professional, such as a therapist, can be a positive step toward finding healing. Learning how to effectively cope with your anxiety can help ensure that you’re living life to its fullest.

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