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Running head: ANXIETY CAUSES PHYSICAL EFFECTS

Anxiety is a Physical Disease

Alyssa Stoney

Arizona State University


ANXIETY CAUSES PHYSICAL EFFECTS

Abstract

This paper is a persuasive paper analyzing the physical effects of anxiety on a person. Its purpose

is to persuade people to realize that anxiety does not only have mental effects on a person, but

also physical. It is something that needs to be recognized by many and the stereotypes of anxiety

need to go away. Research shows that anxiety does in fact affect a person physically and can

cause harmful side effects.

​ nxiety, disease, physical


Keywords: A
ANXIETY CAUSES PHYSICAL EFFECTS

Anxiety causes Physical Effects

I wake up in the morning with a pit in my stomach. I fear the unknown. I fear interaction.

I fear embarrassment. For me, anxiety is more than just a worry in my mind. For me, anxiety is

nauseousness, sweaty palms, blurred vision, a racing heart. This is the case for many other

people who struggle with anxiety too. But, people don’t understand this. They think it’s just a

thought in the mind that can go away, this is not the case. Anxiety is an illness that begins in the

brain but then spreads to the rest of the body and weakens other systems. Research shows that

anxiety has physical side effects on those who battle it.

One side effect of anxiety on the body is its ability to impair the body’s immune system

and its ability to fight off germs and infections. When a body starts to feel anxious, it releases

adrenaline and cortisol in response to the anxiety. These responses are the body’s way of fighting

the anxiety or fleeing from it. However, this can be harmful as “cortisol prevents the release of

substances that cause​ ​inflammation​, ​and it turns off aspects of the immune system that fight

infections, impairing the body's natural immune response” (Leonard, p.13). People who have

chronic anxiety may be more inclined to getting an infection or sickness because of the amount

of cortisol released. People do not realize this and when they think about anxiety they just think

it is a mental illness that causes people to worry. Because anxiety weakens the immune system, it

is more than just a mental issue, it is a physical sickness.

Anxiety also affects a person’s digestive and gastrointestinal systems. Irritable Bowel

Syndrome is a common disease that people battle with, although it is not life threatening the
ANXIETY CAUSES PHYSICAL EFFECTS

symptoms can be chronic and difficult to tolerate. A study in New Zealand “found an association

between high anxiety levels and the development of IBS following a bowel infection” (“Anxiety

and Physical Illness”, 2008, p. 7). For people who are previously diagnosed with chronic

respiratory disorders, those who also have anxiety have been found to have increased

hospitalization due to extreme distress in the lungs when having a panic attack (p.9). Correlations

have been found between anxiety and heart attacks. “In the Nurses' Health Study, women with

the highest levels of phobic anxiety were 59% more likely to have a heart attack” (p.10). Saying

this, those who have anxiety have to be cautious and have that extra worry of having a heart

attack over something that they can’t control. If they were to have a panic attack, there is a high

chance of a heart attack happening from it. Anxiety worsens the symptoms and effects of

previously diagnosed diseases and disorders and endangers the person who is battling both.
ANXIETY CAUSES PHYSICAL EFFECTS

References

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