Advertisements

Anxiety Makes You Sick

7548029082_9d9808ed5a_o
Did You Know?

Did you know that anxiety can manifest itself as very physical symptoms? We aren’t just talking about panic attacks here either. Oh no. Some people with severe anxiety suffer from what they believe to be colds, or have body aches/pains, headaches, the inability to eat, and numerous other supposed illnesses. In addition to this, anxiety can lead to several other diseases, and for all of you anxiety sufferers out there who are cringing and starting your goggle search now, you should know that none of these ‘diseases’ are harmful, only painful or irritating. I’m talking about things like IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), TMJ, Migraine Headaches, Conversion Disorders, etc. Constant stress also lowers your immune system, causing you to be more susceptible to flus, colds, and sinus infections, amongst other airborne or ingested illnesses.

The mental side of things is a lot of tougher, and trust me, I know. After months of testing, I was finally diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder with Panic Disorder and PTSD-like symptoms, and Hypochondria. It’s a mouthful, and like a lot of you out there, I didn’t want to believe this at first. The last one was what got me. I was taught that hypochondriacs were fakers, but the truth is that these people (yes, me included) do now or did at one point truly believe something was wrong with them. All of this stuff adds up, and one thing simply leads to another. Events will trigger your symptoms to become worse, and if left untreated, you will end up a mess like I am.

A Little Bit Of My Story

It’s hard for me to come right out and talk about all of this- although many people know I was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder- but I just want to clear the air and let other people suffering know that they aren’t alone. Look, I felt deathly ill for a good two months. I swore something terrible was wrong with me. We found a few small issues: an iron deficiency, IBS (yes, I also have TMJ as well), and supposedly acid reflux, although I’m pretty sure now that this was a false diagnosis. My blood pressure would fall, and my heart rate would rise. I had headaches, stomach pains, ongoing numbness and tingling, strange heat or cold sensations, I could never get warm, my throat felt tight all of the time, and I couldn’t eat. Although I had been following an exercise program, I was unable to keep it up, yet because I could not eat, I lost five pounds in a single week. I wanted to eat, and I did try to, but every time I forced myself, I was sick for hours. I thought I couldn’t breath, I had chest pains, and my entire body was sore, all of the  time. I was convinced I had a terrible  illness and that I was going to die. I couldn’t sleep, and panic attacks were a common occurrence. My life was, literally, hell. I mourned not being able to be more active with my daughter, but I just couldn’t. Perhaps this was depression setting in, although I’ve never received that diagnosis as to what was wrong with me.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

Everyone worries, but when you worry too much, it makes you sick. People with GAD worry all of the time, about everything. Not everyone is obvious either. A lot of people would be shocked to hear I have an anxiety disorder, because I tend to seem like an open, friendly, happy person. In truth, I like to be an optimist, and I used to be.  Life happened, and it seemed like this  incessant worrying simply wouldn’t go away. I didn’t try to worry, and most people don’t. The fact was that I couldn’t seem to help it- the worrying just started to integrate  itself into the natural order of things, and it sucked. Mentally, people with GAD worry all of the time. They often can’t concentrate, feel  as though their thinking is foggy, and they tend not to enjoy the things they love as much as they once did. Physically, they are tense, and that means that there muscles are always tense- this leads to muscle aches and pains, and even what feels like joint pain, although your joints aren’t actually affected. These people also might feel things like a tight throat, chest pain, and often gastrointestinal distress. They may become sick because of the inability to keep foods down, although the symptoms will vary greatly from person to person.

2153602543_91bc39b403Panic Disorder

Imagine this: you’re sitting on your own couch, minding your own business, and all of a sudden it hits. Your chest hurts, your throat feels tight, your sweating, your body feels numb and tingling, your heart is pounding, and you feel this horrible sense of impending doom. That’s a panic attack, and it can be very scary. In fact, during my rough year, I went to the hospital three times thinking I was having a heart attack, twice thinking I was having a stroke, and twice thinking I had damaged some vital organs- all of these times I swore I was dying. Panic attacks hit you when you least expect them, and no, you don’t have to be in the middle of a worry war to get them. In fact, you are more likely to have a panic attack when you aren’t worrying about anything- that you know of. They’re undeniably scary, but they are just as undeniably harmless.

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

I was diagnosed with PTSD-like  symptoms, or a very mild form of the disease. While most people think of this as “The Soldier’s Disease,” there are, in fact, many people who have this who have never been in the service. My own symptoms include life-like nightmares, with smells and sounds that aren’t always there, feelings of guilt over what had happened, and an exaggerated startle response. People with PTSD may have gotten the disease from war, death of a loved one, child abuse, witnessing a crime or tragedy, or anything else that the individual thought was traumatic. People with PTSD may have mild forms or severe forms. They may hallucinate, have realistic dreams or nightmares, startle easy, constantly be on the lookout for signs of danger, have increased hearing/smell/eyesight, feelings of guilt, and they may relive a specific moment over and over again, amongst other things.

Hypochondria

People with Hypochondria have a heightened awareness of their body, and they believe that there is something truly wrong with them. They may see multiple doctors, do multiple google searches for illnesses they believe they have, make multiple visits to the hospital, worry obsessively over love one’s health, and suffer symptoms related to a disease once they are sure they have it. 99.9% of the time, they don’t have it. Many people actually give themselves hypochondria with persistent worrying about their health. They simply don’t want to admit that they have a problem, and move on with treating what it actually is- a mental battle. Look, I’m gonna shoot straight here. This is probably my biggest problem. I have been convinced I’ve had at least 50 different diseases, disorders, deficiencies, and what have you in the last year. I have visited my doctor at least 20 times- and only about three of them were because of an actual illness (sinus infection, cold, and stomach flu). I have taken at least 10 trips to the ER, and I have googled over 100 symptoms. I have obsessively worried over my daughter and husband’s health, amongst other things.

How This Works- Why So Many Problems?

For me, it was (and still is) a vicious cycle. My GAD would cause physical symtomns, which would fuel my Hypochondria, which would make the physical problems seem worse, which would trigger a panic attack. OR, my PTSD would give me a lifelike nightmare, which would reignite feelings of guilt and cause me to smell or hear things that weren’t there (I was hearing memories, not voices- I haven’t crossed that line yet), which would fuel my GAD, which would fuel my Hypochondria, which would ignite a panic attack, which would start the ball rolling again from one beginning or the other. These types of problems tend to arise  together, or else fuel other problems until it becomes an actual disease. I began having panic attacks at 14 years old, and I let it go for a very long time. After multiple traumatic events (no details here-sorry), I began to develop new problems.This  is the way it happens, and why it is best to get yourself help as soon as possible.

What Helps

I’m not big on meds, but I do have something to take when I have a panic attack or feel one coming on. You should always seek professional help, but here are some things that can help you deal with any of these disorders by yourself, without meds:

  • Admit you have a problem. If you don’t first admit that you are suffering from a mental disorder you can’t begin to treat it.
  • Know that you aren’t crazy. You are not crazy. Repeat that several times, because the public would like to tell you otherwise.
  • Take deep breaths.
  • Exercise.
  • Find a creative outlet.
  • Tell yourself that you are okay, and that nothing bad is actually happening to you.
  • Eat right.
  • Stay hydrated- aim for eight or more cups of water every day.
  • Talk to someone you trust about your problems.
  • Don’t be embarrassed- YOU ARE NOT ALONE! Over 40 million people in the US alone suffer from an anxiety disorder of some sort; GAD effects 6.8 million adults in the US; 6 million suffer from Panic Disorder; 7.7 million suffer from PTSD.
  • Just relax. Take some time to yourself each day to relax. I like to take long showers or baths, or hide in my room for an hour to read.
  • Let yourself worry if you need to. The whole “OMG, I can’t be worrying about this…why am I worrying about this?” thing only makes matters worse.
  • Find out what works for you.
  • Laugh a lot. It’s good for  you.
  • Don’t Google your symptoms or ask a thousand people what’s wrong with you if you have health anxiety- just chill.

In the end? Just listen to this advice:

3723714381_c6092aae35_o

 

Advertisements

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. drumnbasssession.wordpress.com
    Jun 14, 2013 @ 05:49:42

    Appreciate it for the post. Discover ways to end
    in addition to conquer panic and anxiety episodes.

    Reply

  2. http://eating-for-energy.com
    Jun 08, 2013 @ 10:58:33

    Saved as a favorite, I like your website!

    Reply

  3. Domingo
    Jun 02, 2013 @ 10:23:30

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Well written!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: