Surprising Anxiety Symptoms
April 16, 2019
When you think of anxiety, there are probably a few symptoms that come to mind right away. Maybe you imagine someone who’s worried without a specific reason, you might think of panic attacks or sweaty palms. While these are all common symptoms of anxiety, there are some other common symptoms that many people never think of. There are some surprising symptoms of anxiety that you may not have ever associated with the condition at all.
Trouble falling asleep and/or waking up during the night are two sleep disturbances that are common with anxiety. Many people with anxiety have trouble “turning off” their racing thoughts, which can contribute to sleep issues.
Interestingly, researchers still aren’t sure whether anxiety causes sleep issues or if the relationship may be the other way around. Some studies found a link between childhood insomnia and the onset of anxiety later in life.
While it’s not entirely clear as to why this is, scientists have a couple of theories. Anxiety puts the body in a heightened fight-or-flight state. When in this state, it’s possible that the central nervous system is acting at a heightened state as well, making you more sensitive to your bodily functions.
Another theory links frequent urination to muscle tension caused by anxiety. When tense, our muscles may place more pressure on our bladders, signaling the “gotta-go” feeling.
Again, because anxiety puts our bodies into a state of heightened sensitivity, so it makes sense that irritability might follow.
One study found that individuals with anxiety reported having twice as much irritability than people who considered themselves just “worriers.” This suggests that there’s a specific correlation between irritability and an anxiety disorder versus having a more worrisome nature.
Fatigue can seem counterintuitive to an anxiety disorder because anxiety forces your body into a type of “overdrive.” But in actuality, many anxiety sufferers report either chronic or occasional fatigue.
Research hasn’t pinpointed exactly why there’s a correlation. It may be a result of poor sleep (as mentioned earlier), a chemical reaction tied to stress hormones, or a consequence of muscle tension.
You may be thinking, “Yeah, if I’m not sleeping well or have fatigue, I’ll be yawning more.” But interestingly, even well-rested individuals with anxiety can experience excessive yawning.
Anxiety will oftentimes cause irregular breathing (many people with anxiety feel breathless and can even hyperventilate). It’s thought that yawning during particularly anxious times is our body’s way of trying to regulate our breathing. Yawning forces us to take a deep, belly breath, which can help “reset” our breathing.
More and more research is finding that the gut and brain are very closely connected. This is thought to be partially due to the vagus nerve, which connects your gut and your brain. But neurotransmitters, like serotonin, are also produced in the gut.
One neurotransmitter, called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), helps regulate feelings of fear and anxiety. Interestingly, GABA has been found to also be produced in the gut as well as the brain. Some studies have found that introducing probiotics into the gut can have a positive effect on both the vagus nerve and GABA production.
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