Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Can Stress Cause Anxiety Attacks

Panic Disorder With Agoraphobia

Can stress cause panic attacks?

Agoraphobia was traditionally thought to involve a fear of public places and open spaces. However, it is now believed that agoraphobia develops as a complication of panic attacks and panic disorder. Although it can develop at any point, agoraphobia usually appears within a year of your first recurrent panic attacks.

If youre agoraphobic, youre afraid of having a panic attack in a situation where escape would be difficult or embarrassing. You may also be afraid of having a panic attack where you wouldnt be able to get help. Because of these fears, you start avoiding more and more situations.

For example, you may begin to avoid:

  • Crowded places such as shopping malls or sports arenas.
  • Cars, airplanes, subways, and other forms of travel.
  • Social gatherings, restaurants, or other situations where it would be embarrassing to have a panic attack.
  • Physical exercise in case it triggers panic.
  • Certain food or drinks that could provoke panic, such as alcohol, caffeine, sugar, or specific medications.
  • Going anywhere without the company of someone who makes you feel safe. In more severe cases, you might only feel safe at home.

Anxiety Attacks And Professional Help

Anxiety attacks can become debilitating. They have a tendency to spiral, and when they do not get stopped in their tracks it is easy for the attack to continue until one ends up with a full-blown panic or anxiety disorder. In these cases, professional help needs to be sought out immediately because if left untreated an anxiety disorder will only worsen over time without intervention from a qualified mental health practitioner.

Symptoms Of Anxiety Attacks

  • tightness in the throat and difficulty breathing
  • trembling or shaking
  • feeling faint

Not every case of anxiety will include all of these symptoms. Anxiety may be minor, moderate, or severe, depending on the cause and how a person responds to it.

Some people might experience mild anxiety as a result of an examination, while others may have all of the aforementioned issues.

Typically, when the hazard or perceived danger has passed, symptoms disappear.

Excessive worry that persists for a long time or is induced by specific events might be a symptom of another problem.

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Similar Symptoms For Different Diseases

Many people convince themselves they have anemia because it’s hard for them to believe that their symptoms could be caused by anxiety. Anemia is not that uncommon either, affecting roughly 5 to 10% of the population.

But many of those are pregnant women and those born with red blood cell diseases.

The symptoms of anxiety especially panic attacks and anemia are very similar, so it is no wonder that so many of those living with anxiety convince themselves anemia must be the cause. Both anxiety and anemia cause:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness

However, while anemia may cause these symptoms, it also often leads to other, more serious problems that cause hospitalization. Similarly, the symptoms above are also caused by an issue that is far more common hyperventilation. As many as 50% of those with panic attacks or more hyperventilate, along with millions of people with anxiety.

So while it’s possible to be anemic, it’s also very likely that you simply have symptoms of panic attacks and hyperventilation, both of which are more common and more likely to lead to these issues especially if you have a healthy diet.

How To Calm Anxiety And Get Better Sleep

How Stress Can Affect Your Overall Health

Although the impacts of anxiety disorders can be substantial, they are one of the most treatable mental health disorders. This doesnt mean that reducing anxiety is always simple, but there are treatments that can help.

Any person who has persistent or significant anxiety and/or sleeping problems should talk with a doctor who can best assess their situation and discuss the benefits and downsides of the potential treatment options in their case.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is a common treatment for anxiety disorders. It is a type of talk therapy that works to reorient negative thinking, and it has had success in decreasing anxiety. Studies have found that CBT can often reduce anxiety even in people who have insomnia. Addressing anxiety can pave the way for better sleep, but severe cases of insomnia may persist after CBT for anxiety. CBT for insomnia may be a useful next step in these cases.

Several different types of medications are approved to treat anxiety disorders including anti-anxiety drugs, antidepressants, and beta-blockers. These medications are intended to mitigate symptoms rather than cure the underlying anxiety.

Because of the multifaceted relationship between anxiety and sleep, getting better rest may help combat feelings of anxiety. Building healthy sleep habits can make going to bed a more pleasant experience and facilitate a consistent routine to enhance sleep.

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Eric Suni

Staff Writer

Alex Dimitriu

Psychiatrist

Eric Suni

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Anxiety Disorders Are Linked To Alcohol And Drugs

There is a strong link between alcohol and anxiety. Research shows that people with anxiety disorders are two to three times more likely to have problems with drugs and alcohol at some point in their lives than the general population. But that’s not all: Alcohol and drugs can often cause panic attacks, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America .

People with social anxiety, in particular, may turn to alcohol in order to lessen their symptoms, but alcohol can actually make anxiety worse. About 20 percent of people with social anxiety disorder also have an alcohol or substance abuse disorder, notes the ADAA. No matter which problem comes first, the combination of drugs, alcohol, and anxiety can become a vicious cycle.

What Is A Panic Attack

A panic attack is a brief episode of intense anxiety, which causes the physical sensations of fear. These can include a racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, dizziness, trembling and muscle tension. Panic attacks occur frequently and unexpectedly and are often not related to any external threat. A panic attack can last from a few minutes to half an hour. However, the physical and emotional effects of the attack may last for a few hours. Panic attacks are common. Up to 35% of the population experience a panic attack at some time in their lives. A panic attack can also be called an anxiety attack. Without treatment, frequent and prolonged panic attacks can be severely disabling. The person may choose to avoid a wide range of situations for fear of experiencing an attack.

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Diarrhea May Be A Sign Of Anxiety

It is impossible to deny the effects of anxiety and/or stress on your body’s gastrointestinal system. One of the most interesting aspects of diarrhea is that it can actually be a sign that you are suffering from anxiety – not just a symptom of that anxiety.

In fact, stress-related diarrhea may signal to doctors and psychologists that a person may be struggling with their mental health. Often people that experience unexplained diarrhea have stress issues that might hint at a possible long term anxiety and/or stress problem.

Differences In How They Start

What causes panic attacks, and how can you prevent them? – Cindy J. Aaronson

Anxiety is a response to worries or dread. It generally develops gradually and causes individuals to be concerned or worried at first. It can range from mild to severe. There may be the sense that if only this issue could be resolved, everything would fall into place.

A panic attack can come without warning, and there is no way to prevent it. It can happen whether you are calm or nervous, and it can even occur during sleep. There is normally no obvious cause, and the degree of fear is out of proportion to the trigger. In reality, according to the APA, the response is unrelated to the event.

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Having A Diet Thats Not Too Healthy

It’s no secret that if you haven’t been eating well you might not physically feel your best. But a poor diet can impact your mental health as well. According to Lily Brown, PhD, director of the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety at the University of Pennsylvania, a poor diet and the way it makes you feel can make you more sensitive to the impact of anxiety.

Recent research shows that eating a lot of processed carbohydrates can increase the risk of anxiety. The researchers think this might be because of the repeated and rapid changes in blood glucose levels. Recurrent low blood sugar is also associated with mood disorders.

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Panic Disorder In Children

Panic disorder is more common in teenagers than in younger children.

Panic attacks can be particularly hard for children and young people to deal with. Severe panic disorder may affect their development and learning.

If your child has the signs and symptoms of panic disorder, they should see a GP.

After taking a detailed medical history the GP will carry out a thorough physical examination to rule out any physical causes for the symptoms.

They may refer your child to a specialist for further assessment and treatment. The specialist may recommend a course of CBT for your child.

Screening for other anxiety disorders may also be needed to help find the cause of your child’s panic attacks.

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Treatment Of Anxiety Disorders

The two main treatments for anxiety are psychotherapy and medication, and many people benefit from a combination of the two.

  • Psychotherapy: Talk therapy is effective in helping people identify, process, and cope with their triggers of anxiety. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is a highly effective, short-term treatment that helps people learn specific skills to target their specific triggers.
  • Medication: Antidepressants generally have some mild side effects but help alleviate some symptoms of anxiety. Antidepressants can be used for an extended period of time. Buspirone is an anti-anxiety medication that can also be used on an ongoing basis. Benzodiazepines can be used on a limited basis to mitigate anxiety symptoms, but they can be habit-forming. All medications should be thoroughly discussed with your healthcare provider. Any side effects should be reported immediately. Never discontinue the use of these medications without supervision from your healthcare provider.
  • Lifestyle changes: There are several changes you can make at home before you try medications. Daily exercise, good sleep hygiene, healthy eating, and avoiding caffeine and alcohol are all home remedies that can decrease symptoms of anxiety.
  • American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, American Psychiatric Publishing, Washington, D.C., 2013: Pages 222-226.
  • Other Types Of Anxiety Disorders

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    There are numerous distinct types of anxiety disorders. Each one has its own set of symptoms, some of which can be provoked by particular events.

    Panic disorder : Those who suffer from panic disorder experience two or more panic attacks per month, with the underlying worry of future assaults. People who suffer from panic disorder may lose their jobs, avoid traveling, or leave their homes due to their anxiety.

    Generalized anxiety disorder : This is a continuous state of anxiety about a variety of events or activities in the individuals life.

    Phobia: The person suffering from this form of anxiety has a persistent, debilitating fear of an object or circumstance . The majority of people with phobic anxiety are aware that their phobia is illogical.

    Obsessive-compulsive disorder : The result of this illness is an overwhelming number of intrusive, unwanted thoughts and activities .

    Social anxiety disorder: Social anxiety disorder is a serious anxiety disorder characterized by excessive fear of being criticized or ridiculed in public.

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    Seeking Professional Help For Stress And Anxiety

    There are many ways to seek treatment for stress and anxiety. If you feel like youre unable to cope with stress and anxiety, your primary care provider may suggest that you see a mental health provider. They may use psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, to help you work through your stress and anxiety. Your therapist may also teach you applied relaxation techniques to help you manage stress.

    Cognitive behavioral therapy is a popular and effective method used to manage anxiety. This type of therapy teaches you to recognize anxious thoughts and behaviors and change them into more positive ones.

    Exposure therapy and systematic desensitization can be effective in treating phobias. They involve gradually exposing you to anxiety-provoking stimuli to help manage your feelings of fear.

    How Much Money You Have

    One reason why finances might trigger anxiety is because, in our minds, money is linked to survival. “Money is really a resource that can provide people with a sense of safety and security,” Chloe Carmichael, PhD, a psychologist in New York City previously told Health. “When we feel that resource is scarce, it can actually make people feel like their survival is in jeopardy on a very primal level.”

    Some of the common financial stressors have to do with concerns about savings, job security, salary, lack of financial savvy, debt, identity theft, and wealth comparison.

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    How Is Irritable Bowel Syndrome Related To Anxiety Disorders

    Some people feel the effects of stress in their stomachs. People with IBS have uncomfortable problems with digestion, including stomach pain, constipation and diarrhea. They also frequently have anxiety and depression, which can make symptoms worse.

    The connection between IBS and anxiety comes from the nervous system partly controlling the colon. The nervous systems response to stress may affect the stomach. Among people who get treated for IBS, anywhere from 50% to 90% may also have an anxiety disorder or depression. Treatment for IBS may include stress management and psychotherapy to relieve symptoms.

    Gerd Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease

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    Acid reflux disease, also known as GERD, has also been linked to sleeping panic attacks. GERD itself is an irritating but fairly benign disorder. But it can affect you in your sleep, especially if you ate too soon before going to bed. Lying down after eating increases GERD symptoms considerably, and each of these symptoms represents a potential trigger for panic attacks:

    • Chest pains
    • Night sweats
    • Hyperventilation

    Some people also have trouble breathing, sore throats, and other issues that can become panic attack triggers. Many of those with nighttime GERD do not notice that they have any symptoms at night unless they wake up, and even if they wake up they simply deal with the discomfort and go back to sleep.

    But others with tendencies toward anxiety are not so lucky, and its possible that their anxiety and GERD combine to increase the likelihood of nocturnal panic attacks.

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    How To Treat Diarrhea From Anxiety In The Long Run

    A good place to start is by eating a healthier diet for your GI tract that is high in fiber, low in acid content, low in added sugar, and high in vitamins. While our dietary suggestions are helpful, it is unlikely to completely remedy the issue completely, simply due to the nature of the diarrhea.

    Anti-diarrheal treatments are effective in some cases, but not for all. It is not clear why some individuals experience success with these treatments and others do not. The most likely reason for this treatment is effective is that the person is simply treating an already present gastrointestinal issue that is being exacerbated by anxiety, but not caused by anxiety.

    Nevertheless, you will still need to treat your anxiety symptoms in order to truly get to the root of your diarrhea. This will involve both long and short-term changes:

    These are unlikely to cure anxiety-induced diarrhea on their own, but a combination of strategies might allow you to better manage your condition. The gastrointestinal system is complex, and when it interprets stress, it is likely to cause significant discomfort. That is why your ultimate step will be to reduce your anxiety and/or stress altogether.

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    Causes & Risk Factors

    Stress often results if a person feels that there are high pressures or demands, that there is a threat to their well-being or that they don’t have enough resources to cope with the demands.

    Common sources of stress include a person’s physical environment , relationships, work, life situations and major life changes. These situations can include negative events such as financial problems, relationship breakup, difficulties at work or school, injury, illness or death and grieving. However, situations leading to stress can also include positive changes, such as work promotions, getting married or buying a house.

    Because stress is a normal part of life, everyone experiences it. However, the intensity, frequency and duration of stress will be different for each person. Numerous factors can make the experience of stress worse, such as when people:

    • have limited social support
    • have difficulty regulating or balancing their emotions
    • have difficulty tolerating uncertainty or distress
    • lack self-confidence or do not feel they can cope with the stressor
    • interpret the stressor negatively, so that they feel powerless, overwhelmed or helpless.

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    Feeling That Everything Needs To Be Done Just So

    Perfectionism can be a major driver of anxiety. And for many, it’s an unexpected trigger from an underlying perfectionism traitthey might not even have seen themselves as perfectionistic.

    Brown tells Health that you might be able to anticipate such a trigger if you see yourself saying things like, “I can start on that task when all of these things come together. That will make it easier for me to do it I can start on that task and have the time to really dive into it the right wayor the resources to dive into it the right way.”

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