5 Ways Stress and Anxiety Can Affect Your Mental Health
Stress and anxiety are common occurrences, and they affect everybody. It is common to feel stressed or anxious about certain events or situations in your life, and most times, after these situations have passed, the anxiety and stress also leave.
Similarly, stress and anxiety in small doses is a good thing because it means you are active, alert, and focused on situations surrounding you. Stress and anxiety affect people differently, and everyone deals with them in different ways. However, in some cases where the stress and anxiety become too much, they can take a toll on your physical, mental, and emotional health.
Furthermore, it is easy to identify the effect stress and anxiety have on your physical well-being. However, you might not quickly identify the impact stress and anxiety have on your mental health. In this article, we’ll be looking at five ways stress and anxiety can affect your mental health.
What Does Stress Nad Anxiety Mean
When something threatening or unexpected occurs, the emotion we feel is stress. Anxiety is how your body reacts to stressful and dire situations. When events that are out of our control occur, we feel anxious and stressed. While stress and anxiety are standard ways of life, chronic anxiety and stress can affect your quality of life.
Ways Stress and Anxiety Impact Your Mental Health
Affects Your Cognitive Abilities
Chronic stress and anxiety affect the part of the brain responsible for cognitive activities. If you’re experiencing extreme stress and anxiety, it will be difficult to process new information or concentrate. Also, if you’re exposed to stressful situations frequently, and feelings of anxiety are persistent, you’ll struggle with indecisiveness and confusion.
Makes You Overwhelmed Constantly
When you feel anxious and stressed, your brain signals your central nervous system and floods it with hormones (cortisol and adrenaline) designed to help you fight off this anxiety and stress. These hormones keep your mind in a fight or flight mode, and they become eliminated when the danger or stressful situation has passed
However, if you are in a state of constant anxiety and stress, your mind isn’t allowed to leave its fight or flight mode, which means your brain will continually these stress hormones and keep your mind in a state of alertness. You won’t be able to calm down, and you’ll be left with overwhelming feelings, eventually leading to panic attacks.
Sleeping Becomes Difficult
When you have constant feelings of stress and anxiety due to repetitive thoughts and threatening situations, sleeping becomes difficult. You might wake up too early, not sleep easily or wake up too frequently at night, and all these are symptoms of insomnia.
Furthermore, if your brain doesn’t get the required amount of sleep it needs at night due to your constant anxiety and stress, you’ll find it challenging to remain focused and alert throughout the day, and it won’t be able to perform its standard duty to protect your body by repairing cells or removing toxins.
Frequent feelings of stress and anxiety make it difficult for you to stay positive. You’ll lose interest in activities that usually make you happy and excited. Also, stress and anxiety facilitate the release of hormones that are supposed to keep you calm; however, frequent and high doses of these hormones will cause depression and lower your energy levels.
Similarly, depression caused by stress and anxiety will reduce the amount of sleep you’re getting, make you lose confidence in yourself and your abilities, and make you lose your will and motivation for living. It is essential to seek professional treatment once the latter has set in.
Furthermore, depression can cause your mood and personality to fluctuate. You’ll notice that after experiencing stress and anxiety for an extended period, you’ll begin to withdraw from your family and friends, you’ll have difficulty communicating, and you’ll feel irritated, angry, and sometimes aggressive towards others. There might also be instances of impulsive behavior
Causes Anxiety Disorders
Stress and anxiety at very high levels lead to anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders are one of the most common effects of chronic stress and anxiety today. Also, an anxiety disorder can increase when you’re constantly exposed to stressful or threatening situations.
Besides, when experiencing an anxiety disorder, there is an increased risk of getting heart disease or high blood pressure. Also, your heart rate increases, and you’ll experience frequent chest pains and palpitations.
Furthermore, anxiety disorder comes in various forms, some of which include;
- Panic disorders: panic disorders involve an intuitive feeling of anxiety, panic attacks, and fear.
- Phobias: these include an unnecessary fear of a situation or object. You’ll do anything to avoid these situations and things, even if it means not stepping out of your house
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorders: PTSDs occur after undergoing a threatening or traumatic situation. They occur without warning, and symptoms can start immediately or after many years
- Social Anxiety Disorder: social anxiety disorder involves a fear of being humiliated or judged by others. SAD can also mean a paralyzing fear of social gatherings and situations.
You Can Manage Your Stress and Anxiety
One of the most important things you need to know when dealing with stress and anxiety is the stressors that cause them and how your stress and anxiety can affect your mental, physical and emotional health.
Besides, you can manage stress and anxiety by meditating, going for walks, eating balanced meals, exercising, sleeping regularly, staying away from alcoholic beverages and caffeine, and talking to your friends and family when you feel overwhelmed.
However, when the various ways that stress and anxiety can affect your mental health mentioned in this article begin to affect your day-to-day life, and it becomes difficult to function, you need to seek professional help by seeing a therapist.
Moreover, somatic therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy are some of the best therapy procedures used in countering and managing the mental health effects of chronic stress and anxiety.
Having completed my Bachelor’s degree in medicine and currently pursuing a house job at a well-reputed hospital in California, I decided to utilize my spare time in sharing knowledge with others through my blog. Apart from my time spent in the medical field, I love to read fiction novels and go on long drives.