Anxiety occurs both in the mind and the body, depending on the root cause of anxiety (physiological or emotional trauma), the upbringing of a person and the communication resources that were available to us while growing up.
I’ve created Free Holistic Medicine Courses Online and I'vawritten a bestselling book on amazon called Heal Your Body Cure Your Mind. I’m including some excerpts from my book and answers to your question of whether anxiety occurs in the mind or body.
When we experience shock or trauma in our lives, our minds make conclusions and narratives about the event, about our safety, about our capabilities (self judgement), and possibly also about how to survive. These narratives can continue for a while, as intrusive thoughts, OCD, constant worry, constant anxiety, phobias and irrational thoughts. These could be termed as having anxiety in the mind.
At the same time, when we are stressed, overwhelmed, shocked or traumatized, our bodies respond with a fight, flight or freeze response in order to survive. This survival mechanism engages all parts of our physiology, including muscle tension, increased blood flow, clenching of the jaw, tremors, cold hands or feet and other inner tensions and physiological changes that come and go.
Both the mental and physical symptoms of anxiety can either stay with us for a long time, subside for a while, or reemerge when we are retriggered by a stressful experiences. Many people experience both the mental and physical symptoms of anxiety at the same time. Others focus on the intrusive or anxious thoughts that preoccupy the mind, while others become more aware of the tension and physiological changes in their body.
I often find that when anxiety is in the mind, it’s more of a problem solving behaviour in order to survive. And when it occurs more in the body, the mind might have shut down or gone into a freeze response, and the body takes over trying to survive or cope with the perceived threat and unsafe circumstances.
Here is a chapter from my book Heal Your Body Cure Your Mind, covering physical and mental symptoms of anxiety, as well as possible triggers and treatments:
What is anxiety: Anxiety is a state of inner restlessness and fear, and can also have accompanying mental and physical symptoms such as:
· Excessive feelings of guilt, hopelessness, despair, and/or worthlessness.
· Difficulty concentrating or difficulty making decisions.
· Sleep disturbances—either insomnia or oversleeping.
· Unnecessary or chronic irritability.
· Avoiding social situations and activities or withdrawal from people.
· Weeping frequently for no apparent reason, feeling sad all the time, gaining no pleasure from anything.
· Loss of or increased appetite or weight.
· Frequent thoughts of suicide.
Typical signs of anxiety include:
· Panic, restlessness, hyper-arousal, fear, paranoia, and intrusive or unwanted thoughts.
· Uncertainty, apprehension, indecision, hopelessness, or feeling paralyzed.
· Constant worry, tension, anxiousness, or uneasy feelings that have no definite explanation.
· Inability to feel confident about managing simple situations.
Sometimes anxiety may manifest with physical signs, such as:
· Loose bowel movements, diarrhea, stomach cramps, or nausea
· Difficult or shallow breathing, tightness in the chest, heart palpitations, feelings of faintness, dizziness, dry mouth, or sweaty hands.
· Muscle pains, jaw tightness, grinding teeth at night or during the day, lack of sleep, or chronic fatigue.
Different situations that might cause anxiety in people include:
· Being in social gatherings.
· When a person is left alone and is uncomfortable being alone.
· When blood-sugar levels drop too low, due to physiological problems such as hypoglycemic episodes.
· Neurotransmitter imbalances, namely low levels of GABA in the brain
· Chronic inflammation due to unhealthy foods – inflammation adversely affects neurotransmitter levels, namely GABA and serotonin.
· Hormonal imbalances, usually when progesterone is low. Low progesterone reduces the effect of our antianxiety neurotransmitter GABA in the brain.
· Food sensitivities – certain foods such as gluten and dairy can trigger anxiety and inflammation in people who are sensitive to them.
· When someone is confronted with their phobias; for example, failing an exam, meeting people, seeing a dog, or being exposed to heights.
· When someone is reminded of a traumatic experience that has not been fully resolved. This is most often seen in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
The way a person manifests his or her symptoms, be it anxiety, depression, or paranoia, depends on their unique characteristics, including genetics, diet, and physical and emotional makeup.
How To Treat Anxiety
Depending on the root cause, there are different ways to treat anxiety.
- If a person’s anxiety is due to stress and trauma, meditation, trauma therapy (psychotherapy, EMDR, somatic experience), deep breathing and exercise can be great interventions.
- Anxiety, especially in women, can often be due to hormone imbalances, usually a progesterone deficiency. Hormonal imbalances can be remedied by improving your diet, detoxifying your liver and using certain herbs and supplements (I can expand on this)
- Anxiety can also be caused by neurotransmitter imbalances – usually low levels of GABA, serotonin and endorphins. Supplementing with GABA, 5HTP, Tryptophan and phenylalanine has shown to be helpful for some people.
- Emotional support like talking to friends, joining prayer groups or social groups can also help reduce anxiety, especially when you have the opportunity to discuss your problems with people in a safe way.
- There are certain body based therapies like massage, acupuncture, emotional freedom technique and alternate nostril breathing which also calm down the nervous system and help to reduce anxiety.
Feel free to check out my Free Holistic Medicine Courses Online!