Anxiety is a common and natural reaction to specific events and experiences. For example, if you are about to speak in front of a crowd or going for a job interview, you likely will feel anxious. That is nothing to be concerned about. Walking in a dark and deserted street in the middle of the night can also induce anxiety. That, too, is normal.
Over the past couple of years, light has been shed on anxiety as a disorder. Plenty of people around the world, whether young or old, might be diagnosed with anxiety disorders at some point. However, anxiety itself is not bad. It is the body’s way of protecting you from potentially dangerous situations.
When your heart is racing, your skin is sweating, and your senses are more sensitive, your body is preparing you to fight or flight. These experiences result from increased adrenaline, a hormone released into the blood to send signals throughout the body to respond to a threat.
But, if anxiety is persistent even when there is no immediate danger present and has started to interfere with regular life, it should be checked immediately.
Anxiety is a mental health condition in which the fear, nervousness, and uneasiness gradually worsen over time if left unaddressed. There are different reasons why people develop anxiety disorders, including stress, genetics, and brain biology, and chemistry. However, some people experience persistent and recurring anxiety for no apparent reason due to an underlying illness.
Anxiety can also be a symptom of a health condition. Here are a few that can trigger anxiety.
Issues in the Endocrine System
Your endocrine system is mainly responsible for the release and regulation of various hormones, including adrenaline. So, when you are anxious, your adrenal gland, which is part of your endocrine system, is involved, releasing adrenaline to raise your heart rate, constrict your blood vessels, and generate energy to prepare you to fight or flee. Problems in your endocrine system can also affect your moods and emotions, including how you experience anxiety.
An overactive thyroid, more commonly known as hypothyroidism, can cause irritability, restlessness, nervousness, and anxiety. The more severe the thyroid issue, the more intense the moods.
It is not hard to discern if the anxiety results from hypothyroidism. Usually, anxiety will come with other physical symptoms like weight loss, increased sensitivity to changes in temperature, irregular menstruation, and recurring bowel movement issues.
Problems in the Respiratory System
Primary anxiety disorders often come with rapid and shallow breathing, which is a sign of emotional distress. You breathe more to increase oxygen in the body as part of the fight-or-flight response.
However, when you are breathing rapidly and shallowly for several minutes to hours, it is not suitable for your body. You may start to hyperventilate, which occurs when you are exhaling more carbon dioxide than you can make. You are filling up your lungs with too much oxygen.
Hyperventilation, unfortunately, may trigger asthma attacks. People who have asthma have reported that anxiety makes them cough. Experts theorized that this is because of the intake of dry air and an increase in mucus production. There are also reports that when a person has anxiety, they are at an increased risk of having an allergic reaction.
An Imbalance of Electrolytes
Throughout the day, you lose electrolytes. It comes out when you sweat after your morning exercises, when you pee and poop, and when you vomit when you sleep. Typically, eating a balanced diet will replace the lost electrolytes in your body. However, when you do not consume the right food to restore levels of certain electrolytes, an imbalance occurs.
An electrolyte imbalance presents itself through various symptoms, including shortness of breath, rapid or irregular heartbeat, and anxiety. Previous studies have found that an imbalance in potassium, an electrolyte, can lead to anxiety.
Your diet is deeply linked with your moods. Eating a bar of chocolate, for example, can lift your mood instantly. Meanwhile, when you eat fried and fatty foods, it makes you miserable and increases your risk of depression.
Potassium deficiency affects your moods by disrupting the signals that maintain regular brain functions. One research found that up to 20 percent of patients with mental disorders are also deficient in potassium.
When anxiety appears frequently, and when you are not facing an immediate threat, it should be checked by a specialist. A visit to the doctor can rule out the illnesses above and other health conditions that might be causing you to feel anxious. So take the time to make that schedule.