Flight Or Fight? Surprising Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety

Dr A.sajjad siddiqui

2 min read

When thinking of anxiety, the most common mental health problem in the world, the first thing that comes to mind is stuttering, hesitation, racing thoughts, helplessness and other emotional turmoil. This is isn’t entirely true, however, since 70% of our bodily functions are utilized during an anxiety attack, meaning that anxiety displays a wide array of physical symptoms;

Some of which are notoriously well-known, such as:

  • Headaches
  • Too little or too much sleep
  • Extreme Tiredness and Fatigue
  • Breathlessness or shortness of breath
  • Profuse sweating, shaking and trembling
  • Aching muscles and/or muscle tension including back pain
  • Tightening of the chest, an elevated heart rate and palpitations
  • Red flushes over the neck and face that might resemble burn marks
  • Gastrointestinal Problems such as an upset stomach, stomachache, nausea and diarrhea

While others are not so well-known,like:

1- Regular Yawning:

This may be a natural mechanism for getting oxygen supply to the brain when stores are low, but most people suffering from anxiety tend to yawn multiple times during an anxiety attack. The body normally responds to stress by inducing a ‘fight or flight response’ that involves increasing the heart and respiratory rates, and tightening of the muscles; which is then released in the form of yawning in the absence of either fight or flight. However, for those undergoing treatment, excessive yawning may also be a common side-effect of Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI) medication.

2- Excessive Burping:

Improper digestion of food and other related gastric issues affect 50% of anxiety sufferers, and are the prime cause of burping. Moreover, the large amounts of air inhaled to stabilize the breathing process during an episode of anxiety can also result in excess burping.

3- Cold Feet:

While diabetes, anemia, hypothyroidism and several nerve disorders are also signaled by chilly, numb and painful feet, it is also a common symptom of anxiety that is caused by excessive sweating-an automatic response to cool down the body-along with the relocation of blood towards the main organs. This lowers the temperature of the lower extremities, particularly the feet, due to the lack of blood. However, since people tend to focus more on the negative bodily changes during an anxiety attack, the pain felt is often greater than the pain induced.

4- Burning Mouth:

Burning Mouth Syndrome, i.e. a painful, burning, swelling or tingling sensation on the lips or tongue, coupled with a metallic taste in the mouth has commonly been observed in people with an anxiety disorder; which is further heightened by their tendency to concentrate on such changes.

5- Brain Shivers:

Referred to as ‘neurastrapy’ (nerve lightning) or ‘encephalostrapy’ (brain lighting) by clinical pharmacologist Jeff Aronson, some people suffering from anxiety report experiencing an electrical charge-like sensation shooting through their brain and head, and sometimes the entire body, when faced with particularly stressful situations. However, the exact medical cause of this phenomenon is yet unknown.

6- Anger:

Fear, timidity and hesitation-polar opposites of anger-are usually associated with anxiety. However, some people express, or try to mask their anxiety through violent outbursts. This again, can be attributed to the body’s fight or flight response. While most choose flight due to the absence of any physical threat, some opt to fight, aka anger-either verbally (by blaming their troubles on others) or physically. Other factors that may trigger such a response in anxiety-ridden people include irritation and lack of control over their symptoms.

Other uncommon symptoms of anxiety are:

  • Major jaw pain due to constant clenching and teeth-grinding during sleep
  • Horrible and vivid nightmares
  • Uncontrollable itching and scalp picking
  • Twitches
  • Bleeding gums when panicked
  • A floating feeling while walking
  • Increased tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Disassociation with surroundings
  • Random episodes of laughing and crying

The above symptoms might also be related to an underlying medical condition, so consult with your doctor before assuming it to be anxiety. However, if you experience any of these symptoms along with the well-known signs of anxiety, you should see a Psychiatrist and seek treatment. You can book an appointment with a top Psychiatrist in Rawalpindi, Karachi and Multan through oladoc.com, or call our helpline at 042-3890-0939 for assistance to find the RIGHT Doctor for your anxiety-related issues.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are intended to raise awareness about common health issues and should not be viewed as sound medical advice for your specific condition. You should always consult with a licensed medical practitioner prior to following any suggestions outlined in this article or adopting any treatment protocol based on the contents of this article.

Dr A.sajjad siddiqui - Author Dr. A. Sajjad Siddiqui is a Psychiatrist practicing in Multan. Dr. A. Sajjad Siddiqui has the following degrees: MBBS, MSc (Physchiatric Practice - UK), MRCPsych (UK), CCT (UK) and has 14 years of experience. You can book an appointment with Dr. A. Sajjad Siddiqui by calling us or using the 'book appointment' button.He loves to write on healthcare to raise awareness about general healthcare issues in Pakistan and advise patients on healthy living.