Stress is a normal reaction that everyone experiences in response to challenging or upsetting situations. It is an expected part of life that people cannot avoid, and the body has systems to manage it. However, chronic stress can be debilitating and cause or exacerbate physical and mental health issues.
Anxiety is the leading mental health disorder in American adults, and research indicates it is rising across all age groups. The 24-hour news cycle bombards us with information about significant problems and unrest, so it is no wonder that stress levels are rising. Thankfully, information about the tolls of chronic stress is also on the rise, and more people than ever are reaching out for support. If you are experiencing anxiety that impacts healthy living, Rose Hill Center can help. Call 866.367.0220 to learn about the benefits of our anxiety treatment program.
What Are the Effects of High Levels of Stress and Anxiety?
Unfortunately, in today’s fast-paced world, most of us are so used to feeling stressed that we don’t realize the impacts of it until we reach a breaking point. During the stress response, blood pressure rises, heart rate increases, muscles tighten, and breathing becomes more rapid and shallow. This is the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) reaction or the fight-or-flight response.
Usually, when the perceived threat that activates the SNS passes, the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) kicks in. The PNS triggers a relaxation response to counterbalance the SNS. However, when you experience chronic high levels of stress and anxiety, the SNS system gets stuck. Being stuck in the SNS response causes high levels of hyperarousal in the brain and body. The long-term effects of this can include:
- Mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, PTSD, and personality disorders
- Menstrual problems
- Sexual dysfunction, including loss of desire
- Obesity and eating disorders
- Cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks, strokes, high blood pressure, arrhythmia, and heart disease
- Gastrointestinal issues, including GERD, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), ulcerative colitis, and gastritis
- Skin conditions like acne, eczema, psoriasis, and hair loss
Overall, high levels of stress and anxiety negatively impact all body systems and can result in significant health risks. Learning to manage stress and anxiety in healthy ways is crucial.
High Level of Anxiety Symptoms
Stress and anxiety affect your thinking, emotions, behaviors, and physical health. Everyone handles stress differently, so symptoms vary. However, common symptoms of a high level of anxiety can include:
- Feeling overwhelmed or as if you are losing control
- Inability to relax or quiet your mind
- Procrastinating or avoiding responsibilities
- Forgetfulness, disorganization, or inability to focus
- Changes in appetite and sleep habits
- Increased use of drugs, alcohol, or nicotine
- Low energy and fatigue
- Frequent headaches, stomachaches, colds, and infections
- Racing thoughts and constant worry
- Being easily frustrated, agitated, and moody
Many of the symptoms of high stress and anxiety levels are similar to those of certain medical conditions, so it is important not to ignore them and discuss them with your doctor.
How to Deal with High Levels of Anxiety
Living with high levels of anxiety can present numerous challenges and interfere with your ability to manage everyday life. People with high anxiety levels are at higher risk for substance use disorders and depression. Most will need a combination of psychotherapy and medication to manage their symptoms, but all can benefit from lifestyle changes and coping skills, including:
- Practicing mindfulness and meditation
- Finding social support
- Deep breathing practices
- Keeping physically active and eating healthy foods
- Avoiding drugs, alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine
- Learning to identify triggers
- Learning about their specific disorder
- Sticking to their treatment plan
Extreme stress and anxiety seriously risk your mental and physical well-being. A professional anxiety treatment program can provide the education, guidance, and support needed to understand the sources of your anxiety and learn to manage it.
Discover the Benefits of Anxiety Treatment at Rose Hill Center
Stress is an unavoidable part of life. Learning to manage your symptoms is the best thing you can do to avoid becoming overwhelmed by high levels of stress and anxiety. When stress and anxiety interfere with your functioning, it is time to seek professional help. Rose Hill Center offers comprehensive, holistic anxiety treatment. Call 866.367.0220 to discover how we can help you.