What Can Anxiety Do To Your Body? 8 Physical Effects

Last updated by Katie M.

Many of us assume that anxiety is a disorder which exclusively impacts our brain and mental health, however this is definitely a misconception. Indeed, anxiety is such a destabilizing condition that it often affects our physical health and can even provoke serious health problems for sufferers in the long run. Now that you’re aware of the impacts going beyond nervousness and fear, let’s take a look at the effects it has on our bodies and the ways in which these impacts can be limited.


If you are anything like me, you’ve probably experienced anxiety on a minor level when it comes to speaking in public, meeting new people or attending a job interview. However, on a larger scale, when we move up the spectrum, there are many people who are plagued with this condition to the point where their bodies suffer physical symptoms, which make their daily lives unbearable.

>>> Discover the 5 symptoms of anxiety

8 Physical effects anxiety produces

1) Anxiety causes panic attacks

Panic attacks are certainly very scary experiences and can be so violent that we actually believe we are in the process of dying. Here, our breathing becomes shallow, and our bodies feel like they are rapidly shutting down, making gasping for breath extremely challenging. The intense chest pains can also cause dizziness as well as make us feel completely numb.

2) It brings on intense headaches

The headaches can be so debilitating that they provoke sickness and take hours and in some cases even days to pass. When the headaches appear, they make concentration much more difficult and can even make certain people sensitive to light.

3) Irregular breathing

An increased heart rate and rapid breathing are also two more very dangerous effects of anxiety. These symptoms can throw us into a state of despair and incomprehension with regard to our bodies capacities, and more often than not make us panic even more…

>>> Discover the 333 rule for anxiety

4) Profuse sweating

Has there ever been a time when you had to give a presentation, and you noticed yourself sweating even though the temperature was icily cold? Well if so, now with a little of hindsight, you’ll notice that the cold sweats were a stress response and your social anxiety was behind it all.

5) Regular episodes of insomnia

No matter how confident or relaxed we are, at one point or another, we all take our worries and stresses to bed with us. After all, our bedtime is where we replay the major events of our day and also focus on our problems too. Here, unfortunately, our mind has a hard time switching off into unwind mode. Although, when we eventually get to sleep, this condition often provokes nightmares too...

6) Heart attacks

Those who suffer from chronic anxiety are definitely more susceptible when it comes to suffering heart attacks than anyone else. Here, the stress often leads to heart palpitations, which may not seem too dangerous in the short term, however they do in fact contribute to the weakening of the body and the organs.

7) Muscle pains

Our bodies are amazing, yet not even they are complex enough to instantly evacuate the stress we are often confronted with, which explains why we carry so much of it around with us. Tense muscles and stiffness are common physical effects of this disorder.

8) Stomach pains and nausea

They say that the stomach is the body’s second brain, so it comes as no surprise that those who suffer with anxiety also experience intestinal and digestive issues, along with other stomach related physical illnesses.

What organs are affected by anxiety?

Anxiety can also have serious effects on our organs too, which makes dealing with the root of the issue even more essential. Notably, this condition has the most severe impacts on the heart and the digestive system.

Anxiety affects the heart

An isolated anxiety attack can increase the risk of cardiac arrest, especially when combined with other factors: very low or very high temperatures, smoking, intense physical exercise, etc. When it comes to chronic stress, the risks are not immediate, but cardiovascular health is degraded in the long term. For example, high blood pressure can be aggravated, the production of bad cholesterol increases, it can also make the person fatter, more sedentary and encourage smoking. All of this can lead to an increased risk of a heart event or disease.

Disrupted digestive system

When you are stressed, your appetite is generally modified: some people have a knotted stomach and can't swallow anything, others are very hungry. In any case, your stomach and intestines react to stress. This is linked to the action of cortisol, a hormone that blocks all the functions in the body that are not essential for defense, including digestion. In addition, adrenaline reduces the blood flow and relaxes the stomach muscles. All these phenomena together are responsible for appetite disturbances and can cause nausea or diarrhea.

How can anxiety be treated?

The treatment of anxiety disorders is based on medicinal and/or psychological interventions. In all cases, medical care is necessary to set up an appropriate therapy, adapted to the patient's needs, symptoms and family and social situation. Cognitive and behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most common form of treatment. Cognitive behavioral therapy is the most widely studied therapy for anxiety disorders, including social phobia, panic disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. By focusing on the factors that cause and maintain the anxiety and by giving the patient tools for control, this type of therapy is generally effective on a long-term basis (12 to 25 45-minute sessions in general).

Editor’s opinion - Take care of your body

The stresses of life almost always take devastating tolls on our bodies, which emphasizes the importance of looking after ourselves better. The key to feeling better here is learning to unwind and to rid ourselves of the pressure. Whether you choose to work out, paint, draw or even write; doing regular activities that make you feel good and increase your serotonin levels are crucial to calming your nerves and worries.

🤗 Understand yourself, accept yourself, be happy... Let’s do it here and now!


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Article presented by Katie M.

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