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5 ways your anxiety could ruin your health in the long run

Anxiety can be a crippling mental illness that can also cause insomnia, heart diseases and three other major health complications if left untreated for years on end.

Two of the most common mental illnesses that afflict people worldwide is depression and anxiety. Despite how common it is for people to suffer from anxiety disorders, the sad truth is that not many people are aware about what it really is. Anxiety can have a crippling effect on one s life and even interfere with your day-to-day functioning.

While depression is a well-known mental disease, the layman tends to brush off anxiety as worrying too much and people living with this mental illness are told to just relax or take a chill pill . However, it really isn t that simple. It s normal to feel anxious before a big test, job interview or date but suffering from anxiety includes symptoms like acute restlessness, constantly feeling fatigued, irritability and finding it immensely challenging to concentrate or having any control over worrying all the time.

Anxiety also includes panic disorders where the patient suffers from periods of intense fear, palpitations, sweating, increased heart rate and difficulty in breathing. This can make it difficult for the individual to have a social life or even be around people for extended periods of times. You could try these 5 natural remedies for anxiety.

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Other than these symptoms of anxiety, living with it for several years on end and not receiving the treatment required to deal with this mental illness can also adversely affect your physical health. These are the 5 ways anxiety can affect your body:

1. Hypertension and heart disease

Anxiety can cause accelerated heart rate which can increase the risk of suffering from hypertension and even heart disease [1]. A study published in the International Journal of Psychiatry in 2011 found that anxiety disorders can lead to the development of coronary heart disease. Those suffering from Post Trauma Stress Disorder (PTSD) are far more likely to suffer from coronary heart disease.

2. Insomnia

Patients suffering from anxiety tend to sleep for only four hours or even less for several months on end. Anxiety is known to be one of the leading causes of insomnia [2]. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry in 2010 analyzed 2,619 individuals where they found that other than depression, anxiety was also a leading cause of shorter sleep duration. Did you know, these are the 6 health consequences of living with insomnia.

3. Anxiety can affect your pregnancy and cause cognitive decline

If you re pregnant and suffering from anxiety, beware. Studies have found that this mental illness is associated with shorter gestation and has adverse implications for fetal neurodevelopment and child outcomes [3]. Other than just infants, anxiety symptoms or disorders in elderly are also associated with accelerated cognitive decline.

4. Increased mortality risk

A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry found that people with anxiety disorders have a higher mortality risk as compared to a healthy individual [4]. This study included both men and women who were followed up over a period of 7.5 years and the researchers concluded that men specifically had an increased mortality risk if they were suffering from anxiety.

5. Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

Anxiety not only affects your brain, sleep and heart, but also your stomach. Various studies have found a link between anxiety and IBS [5]. In fact, gastroenterologists have found that patients suffering from IBS report an improvement in their symptoms after they start undergoing for anxiety. While it still isn t clear whether anxiety causes IBS or vice versa, living with it can wreck havoc with your gastrointestinal system. Here are tips for preventing IBS.

6. It causes reduced lung function

One of the most common symptoms that patients living with anxiety experience is shortness or breath or difficulty in breathing. Studies have found that anxiety symptoms are directly linked to impaired lung function [6]. Anxiety patients are most likely to suffer from reduced lung function as compared to individuals who don t have this mental illness.

References:

[1] Int J Psychiatry Med. 2011;41(4):365-77.Anxiety disorders, hypertension, and cardiovascular risk: a review.Player MS(1), Peterson LE.

[2] Van Mill JG, Hoogendijk WJ, Vogelzangs N, van Dyck R, Penninx BW. Insomnia and sleep duration in a large cohort of patients with major depressive disorder and anxiety disorders. J Clin Psychiatry. 2010 Mar;71(3):239-46. doi:10.4088/JCP.09m05218gry. PubMed PMID: 20331928.

[3] Dunkel Schetter C, Tanner L. Anxiety, depression and stress in pregnancy: implications for mothers, children, research, and practice. Current opinion in psychiatry. 2012;25(2):141 148.doi:10.1097/YCO.0b013e3283503680.

[4] Br J Psychiatry. 2004 Nov;185:399-404.Anxiety and the risk of death in older men and women. van Hout HP(1), Beekman AT, de Beurs E, Comijs H, van Marwijk H, de Haan M, van, Tilburg W, Deeg DJ.

[5] Anxiety and IBS revisited: ten years later.Clujul Medical. 2015;88(3):253-257. doi:10.15386/cjmed-495.

[6] Psychosom Med. 2011 Oct;73(8):716-20. doi: 10.1097/PSY.0b013e31822ff9e8. Epub2011 Sep 23. Generalized anxiety disorder is associated with reduced lung function in the Vietnam Experience Study. Carroll D(1), Phillips AC, Gale CR, Batty GD.

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