Emotional Wellbeing

Mental Health

Mandy Kloppers

5 Surprising Physical Side Effects of Anxiety

If you have ever experienced prolonged periods of anxiety, you will know just how debilitating it can be. Many people chalk anxiety up to just feeling “nervous” – but those of us who have been subjected to anxiety’s vice grip know that it’s far more than that.


When we think about anxiety’s effects, we think, usually, about our mental health. Intrusive thoughts, low self esteem and a racing mind are all common mental symptoms of anxiety.


However, one little-covered topic is the physical side effects of anxiety. If you experience anxiety every day, you could start seeing your physical health begin to change, and might need to seek help for these symptoms.


Here are 5 surprising physical side effects of anxiety, and how to start combating them.

1. Hair loss

Hair loss has long been connected with stress, and of course, the symptoms of stress can be closely aligned with those of anxiety. There’s an ancient expression, ‘Tearing your hair out’, meaning feeling totally stressed out and overwhelmed by a situation or person.


If you experience anxiety long term, you might notice that your hair is beginning to thin. This is a very common side effect of anxiety, as your body is using so much energy that your physical wellbeing can suffer. To combat hair loss, speak with your doctor about growth stimulating shampoos, and, of course, speak with a therapist to try to lower your anxiety levels. 

2. Rashes/hives

Rashes and hives can be a symptom of many different things. Allergic reactions, skin conditions like eczema, viral infections or food intolerances can all produce itchy, red blotches on the surface of your skin.


One thing that many people never think of when they start getting regular rashes, is anxiety. Your anxiety could actually be the cause of these irritating red patches that make you want to itch constantly.


To reduce the inflammation, you can invest in sigmacort cream that will soothe the symptoms and hopefully return your skin to normal over time. 

3. A racing heart

Have you ever drunk too much coffee in the morning and found yourself sitting at your desk with your heart beating out of your chest at a thousand miles per hour? That’s how anxiety can feel. A very common side effect of anxiety is having a racing heart, that, if it escalates into a panic attack, some people even confuse it with a heart attack.


To calm your racing heart, you need to visit your doctor. There are breathing exercises and mental exercises like meditation, that you can perform in order to actively reduce your heart rate when you feel anxious. In extreme circumstances, there are also medications that can be taken for your heart.

4. Struggling to breathe

When you are struggling to breathe, it’s very hard to remain calm. Although you might know, logically, that your anxiety is causing this seeming constriction, this doesn’t make it easier to breathe in and out.


Some people with severe anxiety can experience panic attacks that cause them to stop breathing properly. This can be quite serious, and can feel frightening when it happens. In order to prevent these situations from escalating into panic attacks, you should try to see a therapist regularly who can give you exercises to perform when you feel your anxiety taking over. In addition, some doctors issue anti-anxiety medications. 

5. Extreme fatigue

When you think of anxiety, you probably think of a hyperactive brain. Your mind is always flooded with thoughts that never seem to calm down and shut up! So why do you feel so tired, if your brain seems to be awake non-stop?


Well, the short answer is: your brain is working overtime. If you ran a marathon every day, you’d be exhausted. Your anxious brain is running a marathon every day, so if you feel extreme fatigue after a period of severe anxiety, you shouldn’t be surprised.


To combat extreme fatigue, do what your body is telling you: rest. Eat healthy, energising foods that can nourish your mind and body while it rests after a bad day, week or even month. Extreme fatigue is a sign that your body is doing too much, so resting is the only way to solve it.

Final Thoughts

Although anxiety can feel like it’s never going to go away, there are ways to combat it with the right tools. If you experience any of these physical side effects of anxiety, you might feel concerned – so try to be proactive and find practical solutions to these symptoms.



Featured image: Photo by Keenan Constance from Pexels

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