3 December 2020 14:22
Anxiety can come in many forms. Most of us have experienced sweaty palms before a big speech, or some nervousness in anticipating the starting whistle. But for some of us, the effects are debilitating: feelings of intense dread, fear, impending danger, accelerated heart rate, hyperventilation. Anxiety disorders can be incredibly varied in their nature and triggers, ranging from general and social anxiety to panic disorder.
All in all, understanding about anxiety and its most frequent symptoms has become a lot more common, but there are still a number of effects that go under-reported and are less well known.
Sometimes called ‘Brain Fog,’ some of those who have anxiety attacks can also experience Derealisation in the hours or even days afterwards. People who experience derealisation describe a sensation of being disconnected from reality. Familiar places and faces, even intimate home environments can feel unreal, friends can feel like strangers.
However, “Brain Fog” is not typically dangerous in and of itself and it's important to remember that it is only temporary.
Whilst Brain Fog can be a strange feeling it is often not necessarily scary for most. Depersonalisation on the other hand can leave some feeling frightened and seemingly out of control of their own body, as though they are watching events from outside it. In addition to these mental symptoms, some people can also experience outright physical sensations such as tingling or numbness.
For many, depersonalisation feels somewhat akin to an out-of-body experience where patients describe feeling as though they are observing their own body from a distance. Because of this, anxiety disorders can sometimes be mistaken for incidents of psychosis.
Although considered a psychological disorder, anxiety of all kinds can still have concrete physical effects. Among the least publicised of these is the increase in generalised aches and pains that many sufferers experience. This can include both specific instances of headaches as well as general, muscular pains throughout the body.
Anxiety, whether in the form of generalised anxiety or specific, momentary panic attacks is usually characterised by a form of hyper-vigilance; a vigilance that is often out of step with the sufferer’s environment. For example, natural fight or flight mechanisms that could be appropriate when faced with life-threatening situations might be totally out of place in the work or social environment that triggers anxiety-related issues. When this adrenaline finally wears off, this state of heightened tension can often lead to feelings of persistent fatigue in the interim between anxiety episodes.
Anxiety has a wide range of physical effects and can exacerbate other conditions that patients might have. Stress and anxiety can have acute effects like nausea but it can also show itself in chronic digestive issues such as stomach aches or diarrhoea as well as multiple other digestive issues.
It's important to realise that everyone experiences anxiety and panic attacks differently, and just because someone experiences some symptoms but not others does not mean that their condition is any more or less severe.