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The Less Known Long-term Effects of Anxiety (And Overcoming Them)

The Less Known Long-term Effects of Anxiety (And Overcoming Them)

woman gasping for breath

Anxiety is an overwhelming psychological phenomenon and the worst part is that few people are treated for it.. Many shrug off their symptoms as signs of lethargy, mood disturbances or burnout. This could lead to years and decades of suffering without treatment.

When ignored, anxiety may trigger full-blown panic attacks, which mimic severe health conditions such as a stroke or heart attack. By identifying every symptom and accepting the condition “at work” , anyone can overcome paralyzing anxiety. 

Anxiety: An Outdated Primal Ability

Anxiety is a product of the limbic system (the ancestral part of our mind that is sensual/emotional rather than logical). Our prehistoric ancestors depended on anxiety for survival, specifically, its fight, flight or freeze responses (enabled through the ANS or autonomic nervous system).  

Common anxiety symptoms such as profuse sweating, elevated heart beats/palpitations and gastrointestinal problems were ideal for the survival of early mankind, of our species. Although largely useless and dreadful in modern times, these nasty symptoms served useful functions in an earlier era. 

-Increased sweat production allowed humans to slip away from the grasp of predators. 

-Rapid heart beats provided the body with additional energy to outrun beasts in pursuit. 

-Interruptions in digestion forced early humans to turn their attention away from eating toward threat response.

Although it is important to identify and cope with the common signs of anxiety, we’re going to focus on three stranger aspects of the condition and effective ways to overcome them. At times anxiety sufferers may develop new symptoms that defy logic, which exacerbate their nervous responses. It is the cognitive way of coping with the anxiety.

Unfortunately, it is common to face apathy from kin and peers who have never dealt with the challenges of anxiety. Observers may even dismiss the symptoms as trivial nonsense or wild imagination. Anxiety however, should be taken seriously and can prove to be a real problem.

Over time, mismanaged cases may result in a condition known as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which interferes with the livelihood of the individual. GAD is characterized by the constant feeling of fear and insecurities at the slightest stimulation (such as the change of environment, weather or even time of day).

Depersonalization & Derealization Disorders

These two disorders are possible symptoms of anxiety and may strike at any time.

As the term suggests, depersonalization tarnishes the personality. This is frightful process since our personality is what defines us: our purpose and actions during waking hours. Depersonalization may cause feelings of becoming an observer of your life story although you’re still very much in control. You may look at yourself in the mirror and feel unsettled by the appearance of your own reflection. Sufferers may also experience feelings of sadness or a lack of emotions in their lives (which may lead to depressive symptoms). Possibly the worst part is that your body feels hijacked and controlled from within by an unseen force.

Derealization refers to the lack of sensations. Sufferers may describe themselves as living in a movie or dream, being only partially aware of their surroundings. Derealization is like the body’s version of the autopilot mode in planes. Derealization is potentially dangerous in situations where the sufferer is in control of a vehicle. In its mildest form, sufferers are unable to concentrate on a task, similar to being tipsy from drinking.

Solution: Intrusive thoughts are one of the main causes of both disorders. To remedy the situation or ameliorate symptoms, focus on affirming yourself of the present. This can be achieved by reading aloud, clapping your hands, holding your fingers or squeezing your palms. Contrary to what your mind tells you, you will not go full-on crazy or develop schizophrenia. Also, try cutting down on caffeine, which is notorious for causing a plethora of anxiety symptoms.

Sleep Disturbances

The domain of sleep and dreams is perhaps as enigmatic as the bottom of the ocean. Anxiety sufferers may find themselves tossing and turning in bed or waking up during the ungodly hours of night without any rhyme or reason. Worse still, anxiety causes sleep disorders. This leads to a vicious cycle that harms the quality of life. Sufferers may also experience an influx of dreams, which reduces sleep quality , causing you to wake up poorly rested.

Solution: tune away from stimulating activities shortly before bed (such as screen time or excessive exercise.) Instead, opt for a bubble bath, meditation or listen to some soothing music that relaxes the mind and prevents unwanted thoughts.