What Are the Effects of Untreated Anxiety?

The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that as much as 30 percent of the adult population in America could be dealing with untreated anxiety disorders. While most people understand anxiety can negatively affect their emotional well-being, few realize the toll it also takes on their physical health. Even fewer people know the fact that, for many, all-natural treatments such as acupuncture can help manage anxiety. If you think you may be dealing with excessive anxiety, you can request a free consultation online at Family Acupuncture and Wellness.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a physical response to mental or emotional stress. Your nervous system carries out a panic response to stress. Your heart rate increases, your breaths become shortened, your muscles tense up, and blood flow is diverted to the brain. This is a natural response to a scary situation in the short term. But in the longer term, if your body stays in that fight-or-flight response, it causes problems. You can become lightheaded or nauseated, and eventually, the anxiety response takes a toll on your mental and physical health.

Anxiety and gastrointestinal disorders

It is believed that the nerves related to digestion become hypersensitive and can lead to gastrointestinal problems, including upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting. Irritable bowel syndrome symptoms that are exacerbated by anxiety include abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation, and bloating.

Anxiety and heart disease

Multiple research studies have shown that people with existing heart disease are more than twice as likely to have a heart attack if they have high levels of anxiety. The Nurses' Health Study found that women with the highest levels of anxiety were almost 60 percent more likely to suffer a heart attack and 31 percent more likely to die from a heart attack. Untreated anxiety has also been directly linked to the development of heart disease in people who would otherwise have a fully healthy cardiovascular system.

Anxiety and respiratory illnesses

Harvard researchers have found that patients with chronic respiratory illnesses, such as asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, are much more likely to have untreated anxiety. These patients have difficulty breathing and suffer from restricted airways. They have trouble taking in a full breath, depriving their body's cells of much-needed oxygen to lower stress levels.

Anxiety and obesity

A 2017 study in The Journal of the North American Menopause Society found that women with obesity are at much greater risk of developing anxiety than women with a healthy body mass index. Women with obesity were also much more likely to display outward signs of anxiety.

Anxiety and chronic pain

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America states that chronic pain of unknown origin is common for people with untreated anxiety. Headaches, muscle tension, and generalized body soreness are common chronic pain symptoms that people with untreated anxiety can experience.

Natural treatment for anxiety

Family Acupuncture and Wellness works with patients to use natural remedies for treating anxiety. We rely on laboratory testing to determine whether there is a physical component to your anxiety. Stress and high levels of anxiety can be caused by vitamin deficiencies, menstrual cycles, diabetes, low thyroid hormones, and other physical conditions. Based on your lab results, we will work with you to create a custom mood disorder treatment plan. This can include acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine and a number of natural lifestyle-based treatments.

If you suffer from untreated anxiety or stress, contact Family Acupuncture and Wellness using the Request Free Consult button on this page.

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