While stress is quite common, you might be surprised to know that a whopping 40 million people (or 18% of the US population) are affected by an anxiety disorder. However, those who experience stress and anxiety may also experience physical symptoms along with the feelings of being overwhelmed and stressed out, such as digestive issues and even an increased risk of illness–among others that you shouldn’t ignore.

Stress has been known to get the best of us from time to time, and anxiety, a reaction to the stress, is never a pleasant experience. The physical signs of stress and anxiety can be life-consuming in some instances, and even the smallest symptoms shouldn’t be ignored.

Stress and anxiety go hand in hand

You may have heard the phrase “stressed out” a time or two, but what does it really mean to be stressed? It’s important to note that anyone can be stressed out, not just adults and teens. In fact, even children can experience stress.

Stress can be brought on by just about anything. If you attend school or work, you’ve probably experienced the feeling of being overwhelmed by tests, deadlines, and homework. You might worry excessively over what is stressing you, get more frequent headaches when you’re stressed, or even lose sleep over what you’re stressing about, which can be a sign of insomnia.

In some cases, in a reaction to the stress, you may experience anxiety. Anxiety involves stronger feelings of excessive worry, fear, or nervousness around a specific circumstance or situation. For example, perhaps you experience anxiety around public speaking. You might start to sweat while thinking of it, get nervous, or your heart might feel like it’s racing.

Anxiety is quite common, and can be considered normal and even healthy from time to time. However, excessive anxiety might point to an underlying anxiety disorder of which can be managed with a visit to the doctor.

The physical signs you should keep an eye out for

When most people think of stress and anxiety, chances are they probably don’t consider the fact that there can be physical signs that accompany it. In addition to headaches and insomnia, there can be more serious signs that you should never ignore. Signs such as depression, loss of appetite, and dry mouth can all accompany moderate to severe stress and anxiety, and should all be taken seriously.

Aside from the occasional upset stomach and lack of sleep that stress can bring, it can also affect your body in other ways as well. You may develop acid reflux–or heartburn, which causes acidic stomach fluid to be brought up into the throat or mouth. This can affect your salivary glands and can bring on dry mouth when you’re stressed. Along with dry mouth, you may also experience nausea, or even a strong bad taste–which might make you want to reach for the toothbrush in order to get rid of it.

When you’re stressed or experiencing anxiety, you may not have the urge to eat like you used to. Loss of appetite or unhealthy eating habits (such as eating off schedule or not eating the right amount) can become serious quickly, as over a short period of time you can lose weight and start to feel fatigued.

You may begin to feel tired all the time as a result, and experience a lack of energy due to not getting proper nourishment. This can be bad news for your immune system, as stress and anxiety can affect the immune system by suppressing it, making you more susceptible to sickness.

If you start to notice a change in your eating habits, don’t ignore it, as it can lead to more serious issues such as an unexpected illness, and severe weight loss.

It’s not unheard of for stress and anxiety to interfere with someone’s day to day life, or make you feel like your life is being consumed by it. In fact, severe stress and anxiety can make you lose interest in the things you once used to enjoy and can bring on other symptoms of depression, such as dark thoughts and feelings of helplessness.

You might not want to go out with your friends, want to sleep more, and you might find yourself unhappy most of the time. It’s beyond important to take action and to talk to someone. Getting professional help can make a world of difference. Ir can help you to manage the stress–giving you a better quality of life.

Getting help and finding solutions

If you or someone you know is experiencing physical symptoms of stress and anxiety–don’t ignore it. Physical symptoms can interfere with your day to day life, and can oftentimes lead into something more severe.

It’s important to take action instead of disregarding the symptoms. Seeing your doctor, therapist, or counselor can help to deal with the signs and symptoms and get you feeling better sooner than later.

Stress and anxiety are extremely common and can affect anyone and everyone from time to time. However, when the feelings of stress and anxiety don’t go away and begin to develop physical symptoms, it’s important to rectify the situation before the symptoms lead to something more severe.

Jennifer Dawson

Jennifer Altman is a freelance writer and editor. After a career in PR she took the plunge into freelance life 5 years ago and has never looked back. She loves writing full-time but when not working she enjoys hiking, swimming and getting abroad with her family as much as possible.