6 unusual symptoms of anxiety
Since I did this with depression the other day I thought it might be useful to explore some of the lesser known symptoms of anxiety. I came across 6, some that I’ve experienced and some, I have not. So this was good for me, I hope it’s useful for you. Anxiety and worry manifest in some pretty obvious ways—sweaty palms, shaky legs, shortness of breath, feeling like you might throw up, faint or scream. But there are other, surprisingly common symptoms so strange that they can often be mistaken for something more serious. On the advice of my psychologist, I was told not to look for what disease my symptoms might be showing but rather, are they anxiety related? This tip helped me so much and even when I was experiencing pains that felt like I had a hole in my lung, I could rationalise and knew it was because of my poor, broken little brain.
As if whatever's making you anxious isn't enough, you can add passing gas and burping in public to your list of worries (nice!?). You can blame this on eating and drinking too fast and honestly, it’s down to an overactive gut. Your gut is tied more to your brain more than you know. Also, you’re swallowing more air – your breathing is disrupted – bordering on hyperventilating. Taking in extra air means your body needs to expel it out quicker too. So if you find your bottom end is a little toot happy, and you’re in a heightened state of anxiety, it’s all linked.
Icy Hands and Feet
It can of course be down to cold weather and poor circulation but cold fingers and toes can also be blamed on anxiety. When you’re anxious your blood flow is redirected to your larger organs and away from your extremities, just as it would happen in the wild if you were under attack. Your body acts to protect the heart and other organs essential to your survival, classic ‘flight or flight’. However, your body can’t distinguish between being overwhelmed by work and a batshit crazy Grizzly bear. So, it shuts down, fingers and toes first. Fun.
This is a pretty common one I would expect. Anxiety can trigger all sorts of distressing rashes and skin issues. I remember my lovely client, who is a skin therapist walked in to see me one day, took one look at my face and asked ‘what are you stressed about?’ She was right, I hadn’t slept and I was worried about a decision I had made at work that was pretty devastating for our whole team. What she saw was a face covered in pimples and a rash underneath my chin that I’d never even seen before let alone knew how to deal with.
It can be explained quite simply…while your blood is rushing away from your fingertips, cortisol is rushing it’s way through your bloodstream destroying your ability to defend yourself form outside influences. So, that make up you put on everyday, or that particular soap you use might as well be stinging nettles for all your skin cares!
We do it when we're bored and when we're tired, but we tend to yawn when we're nervous too. Some people, especially with generalised anxiety or panic, tend to breathe more rapidly than the average person - I know I definitely do. The quick breathing makes your brain think you’re not getting enough air, so it forces you to yawn to rectify the situation. This is why practicing Veloma and Nadi Shodhana breathing techniques at yoga has proven invaluable for me (thank you Shaz!). These techniques especially work for me at night when my brain does nothing but criticise everything I did during the day - I can slow it right down by controlling my breath rather than it controlling me.
If you have a serious anxiety issue, dreamlike feelings become all too real. Possibly the most unnerving anxiety symptom of all is the feeling of unreality, or the sensation that your surroundings aren't real. It’s way too hard to explain but it’s almost like you’re inside a bubble, you can hear other people but you can’t understand what they are saying. You know that what’s going on is relatively normal day-to-day behaviour but it feels alien and you cant make sense of it. You’re going through the motions but you just don’t feel in control. This again is down to fight or flight, your brain is dulling any unnecessary stimuli around you to deal with the issue at hand—in this case, your anxiety (and the fact that your brain is telling you that you are definitely, 100% going to die).
Hearing Phantom Rings
Have you ever heard or felt your phone go off, but no one has actually rang, facebooked or ‘grammed you? According to a recent study published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, this is a real thing. Although, I don’t need a study to tell me that, I’ve experienced it first hand. People with higher attachment anxiety—like me worrying whether I‘ll be abandoned by everyone, all the time (fun)—may be more likely to experience this ghostly phenomenon. The study, found that those who had high levels of attachment anxiety were more likely to have experienced phantom ringing and phantom notifications than their more laid-back counterparts. This has happened to me and it has gone on for hours and hours. I thought I could hear my phone ring. The phone was in a different room so I would wander in to check it and it was nothing, however, I was also in a state of disassociation so I didn’t think to bring the phone with me. I just kept wandering in to check it over and over again, torturing myself. Luckily, this only ever happened once but I was relieved I could explain it as an outcome of anxiety rather than early signs of insanity.
The best thing about all of these symptoms is that there is one common denominator – chemistry. Remember – everything about your anxiety is biology, it’s chemistry, it’s an imbalance of hormones and a body that's primal functionality is to run away from saber-toothed Tigers! Our mind hasn't evolved like the mobile phone has. It is still confused when that person pulls out in front of us or the boss humiliates you in a client meeting. The zero to 100, get-out-of-here-or-die chemicals kick in. You won't die, I promise.
At ease xxx