Anxiety symptoms are caused, on the whole, by a series of complicated chemical reactions.
In one of these reactions, when we feel stressed, chemicals are released from a part of the brain called the hypothalamus.
These trigger more chemicals from another part of the brain called the pituitary glands, which in turn triggers cortisol to be released from the adrenal glands, located on top of the kidneys. This is known as the hypothalamus – pituitary – adrenal axis or HPAA for short.
The cortisol is responsible for many of the anxiety symptoms commonly experienced.
Not everyone will experience all of these symptoms, but often people experience the same symptoms of anxiety again and again. Some of the physical signs can be truly terrifying; panic attacks can leave people gasping for breath and some people experience chest pains which they may mistake for a heart attack.
Physical symptoms of anxiety:
- Heart palpitations
- Increased heart rate
- Muscle tension
Emotional symptoms of anxiety:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling tense and on edge
- Noise intolerance
- Loss of appetite
- Sleep difficulties
Clinical Partners have a team of experienced clinicians who can successfully assess and treat anxiety. To speak to someone about how we can help please call 0203 326 9160.
Anxiety can be damaging to your long term health
Cortisol is our stress chemical, it prepares our bodies for ‘fight or flight’.
In healthy quantities it can be useful, preparing our bodies for impending danger and making us alert. It is a survival technique. But elevated, sustained levels of cortisol are in fact damaging to our bodies in the following ways:
- Many scientists believe that increased cortisol levels negatively affect how our brains uptake serotonin (our feel good hormone) which can result in further lowering of mood 1
- Decreased ability to create new brain neurons
- Suppressed thyroid function
- Imbalances in blood sugar
- Decreased bone density
- Lowered bone density
- Hypertension (high blood pressure)
- Cardiac ischemia (reduced blood flow to the heart)
- Arrhythmias (irregularities of heart beat)
The regulation of stress chemicals is complicated and we know that even when there are no obvious stress making external factors people can still be struck by crippling fear and anxiety.
Help is available
There is much that can be done to help people suffering with the different types of anxiety.
We would always urge people to seek professional help. Sometimes anxiety symptoms can be caused by underlying medical conditions such as thyroid problems, heart disease, diabetes, Lupus, drug and alcohol use, the withdrawal symptoms associated with these and premenstrual syndrome. Ruling these out is an important first step.
We know it can be frightening to reach out and get help, especially when things can seem so overwhelming.
You can talk to one of our qualified, friendly clinical advisors today about how we can help you. Appointments for assessments are often available within a few days and you do not need a GP referral.
If you would like to talk, free of charge, about booking a private assessment for anxiety please call 0203 326 9160.
1 Van Riel, et al. (2003) Chronic unpredictable stress causes attenuation of serotonin responses in cornu ammonis 1 pyramidal neurons Neuroscience 120, 649-658