7 signs you may be suffering from anxiety

We all suffer from anxiety at some point in our life. Events such as job interviews, moving house, exams, relationship and financial issues all have the potential to make everyone, regardless of their age, feel a little anxious from time-to-time.

Feeling anxious is perfectly normal and can potentially heighten our alertness and improve our concentration and focus. But if it gets out of control, it can possibly lead to stress, panic disorders and other mental health conditions.

The best way to deal with anxiety and stop it spiralling out of control, is to spot the signs at an early stage and take preventative action. So, what are the main symptoms you may be suffering from anxiety?

1. Nervousness

Common side effects linked to feeling nervous include sweaty palms, a dry mouth and shaking. When our brain consistently senses danger (perceived or real) the two parts our nervous system become imbalanced with an overactive sympathetic nervous system. When this system is racing you may feel edgy. Long term this can increase blood pressure and increase cardiovascular risks.

There are natural remedies available and breathing/meditation techniques that reduce nervous activity which quickly calm the mind. Exhaling for longer will help clear the lungs of carbon dioxide, CO2 in the lungs can accumulate and increase the stress response.

2. Stomach churns

A churning stomach often accompanies feelings of anxiety but is not just restricted to the stomach. The gut is connected to the brain via the vagal nerve so if you are stressed the effects of the overactive nervous system may be felt in both the mind and the gut.

These ‘butterflies’ in the stomach can actually make you feel physically sick. However, you can reduce the negative impact of stomach churning by drinking plenty of water, resting and avoiding foods that are difficult to digest. Nervous system remedies such as saffron reduce gut over-activity.

3. Facial flushing

Whilst facial flushing is often a social concern rather than medical one, a reddened face has been linked to a number of disorders, such as agoraphobia. If you do suffer from frequent facial flushing, try to pinpoint the trigger for it. Once you’ve established this, you can start to look at preventative measures. Therapies such as CBT (cognitive behavioural therapies) may help to reset the unhealthy thought patterns that cause the flushing. There are also a number of natural remedies or medications you can take to help.

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4. Feeling overwhelmed

We’ve all had that feeling of dread and felt our body consumed by negative thoughts. Feeling overwhelmed or that something catastrophic is about to happen is related to a number of disorders, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD). If you are regularly experiencing severe feelings of dread, try to slow down and ask yourself ‘What’s the worst that could happen?’ Hopefully, this will allow you to rationalise the feeling, but if it doesn't, it could be the sign of a more serious disorder and you should consult your doctor.

5. Heart palpitations

Heart palpitations create the feeling that your heart is racing, fluttering or even skipping beats. While it can be harmless or caused by physical factors, such as alcohol or caffeine, it can also be a sign of severe anxiety. There are several methods for reducing the severity and frequency of heart palpitations - meditation and other breathing exercises (3-4-5 breathing) can be effective. Behavioural therapies such as CBT can also help to reduce palpitations.

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6. Dizziness

Any form of nervousness can cause your blood pressure to fluctuate, leading to dizziness and potentially fainting. At its worst, the dizziness can become chronic and debilitating, but there are certain steps you can take to treat it. Doctors can prescribe you medication. Your doctor will help check for more serious problems such as asthma and cardiovascular issues which could be the cause.

Resetting the breathing (3-4-5 breath) everyday alongside gentle exercise, preferable outdoors can make a significant difference. Healthy breathing is fundamental remember to keep the airways clear and avoid foods that can block the sinuses such as dairy foods.

7. Shaking

An overactive nervous system can cause stress hormones to flood the body, causing tremors and ‘the shakes’. Shaking is a very uncomfortable feeling and can lead to other more serious problems, such as panic attacks. Rather than fighting this symptom, the most effective approach is to guide your body back to a relaxed state. You can do this via breathing exercises, mindfulness techniques or exercising to help relax your muscles.

As you can see, an overactive nervous system can manifest in many different ways. Letting it build up can potentially lead to disorders, so it’s important to take steps that will help lessen its impact. Therapy, medication, natural remedies and meditation can all help. If you are concerned about the impact anxiety is having on your health, please consult your doctor or speak to one of our pharmacists here at The Naked Pharmacy.