How stress and ailing mental health can deteriorate physical health too.
“It’s just a phase.” “Snap out of it.” “Have you tried NOT being anxious?”
If you have endured struggles with a condition such as anxiety, you may have heard something like this at some point..
May is Mental Health Awareness month, and we want to use our blogs this week to bring awareness to this important topic and help you understand its effects on your body.
Many of us are now starting to gain a glimpse into the perils of anxiety through the strange and uncertain times we find ourselves in.
Lots of people are experiencing new and unparalleled levels of stress, a common symptom of anxiety, that will likely lead them to be sympathetic to those who suffer from the mental health condition.
We are learning more everyday how prolonged and intense levels of stress can really damage a person’s physical and mental wellbeing.
The cardiovascular system.
Dr. Una McCann, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, believes there to be a strong connection between anxiety and potential heart problems.
Anxiety and stress can cause heart palpitations and chest pain. The Johns Hopkins professor goes further, suggesting that there could be a connection between anxiety and more serious heart conditions, such as a rapid heart rate, increased blood pressure, and decreased heart rate variability.
When we are feeling stressed or anxious, our brain starts pumping chemicals and stress hormones into our nervous system in an attempt to help us fight the threat.
Anxiety and stress are not supposed to be long-term experiences. As a result, we are not supposed to expose our nervous system to these stress hormones very often.
In serious cases of anxiety, a sufferer’s brain may start to release stress hormones on a more frequent basis.
This could lead to a regularity in symptoms such as depression, headaches, and dizziness.
The digestive system.
Stress hormones aren’t exclusively sent to the CNS. Some of them make their way into the digestive tract, and they can really wreak havoc on your digestive process.
There are microorganisms that live in our digestive tract called gut flora, that help aid our digestion. These flora are negatively impacted by our stress hormones and chemicals, which then impedes our ability to digest properly.
The problem is further exacerbated by the stress hormones stunting our production of important antibodies!
There are a wide variety of uncomfortable symptoms that can arise, including: nausea, stomach cramps, diarrhea, IBS, and peptic ulcers.
The respiratory system.
The respiratory system is also under threat from anxiety.
In a state of anxiety or stress, we adopt a rapid, shallow breathing pattern in an attempt to boost our circulation.
Again, this is not something the body should be experiencing for prolonged periods of time. For sufferers of asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, this is particularly worrying.
The immune system.
Anxiety also has a complicated relationship with our immune system.
One of the stress hormones that gets released in our anxiety-induced state is cortisol, which we know weakens our immune system.
When we’re under intense stress, cortisol attempts to reduce inflammation by suppressing the antibodies that increase it.
While helpful in the short-term, this is not something the body should experience for prolonged periods. Those T-cells and white blood cells should not be suppressed for long, as it leaves the body open and vulnerable to infection.
It’s not that anxiety forces you to get sick, but once you come into contact with foreign bacteria, it will take your body a longer time to recover due to the stunted antibodies.
It’s time to treat mental health with the same care as physical health.
The links between the mind and the body are there for all to see.
A body’s unhealthy stress response can compromise so many key parts of our physical health. When our mind suffers, our body suffers with it. That’s why our immune-boosting products contain ingredients that promote a healthy stress response!
All bodies are different, and stress affects us all in different ways. Take our immune quiz here to discover which of our immune-boosting products will help you live the life you deserve!