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How Anxiety Affects Physical as Well as Mental Health and How CBT Can Help

Many people in the UK suffer from anxiety, but it must be treated properly to improve the outcome and affects it has on our bodies.

Here’s some effects anxiety and stress can have on the body:
  • Gastrointestinal disorders – Around 20% of UK residents suffer from either IBS or an upset stomach when they become anxious. When you have an anxiety disorder, the nerves regulating digestion become hypersensitive to stimulation. These conditions don’t produce anything serious, but they do cause a lot of discomfort through pain, bloating and constipation. These can be chronic and really difficult to tolerate.
  • Chronic respiratory disorders – People with anxiety symptoms who suffer from panic attacks often have these types of breathing disorders. Women are at far greater risk than men. Anxiety is associated with severe distress at every level of lung function. So even if the anxiety or stress doesn’t affect the progress of any respiratory disorder, it can take a huge toll on quality of life.
  • Heart disease – Anxiety disorders may be linked to the development of this disease. Women with the highest levels of phobic anxiety are thought to be more likely to have a heart attack than women who don’t experience anxiety. Having a history of experiencing full blown panic attacks may also increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Physical benefits of treating anxiety and stress

Therapies that have conventionally been used to treat people with anxiety disorders, have now started to be used for those who have IBS or respiratory conditions. The most studied, and best approach to treatment is using cognitive-behavioural therapy, or CBT.

The cognitive component of the therapy helps people to identify, and then avoid thoughts that generate anxiety. The behavioural part helps them to learn how to react and cope with anxious situations. Treatments vary depending on what type of anxiety someone is experiencing. CBT has been shown to be most effective when treating anxiety disorders, and in turn, this could decrease the risk of long-term harm to your physical health.

Many people go through life being untreated for anxiety, and it has a huge impact on their long-term, physical health. If you think you have anxiety, and need advice on it, it’s best to consult with your doctor.

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