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Anxiety is the body’s natural response to stress that is characterized “by an unpleasant state of inner turmoil and includes feelings of dread over anticipated events.” It is largely unavoidable, as everyone will experience stress at some point in their life. However, chronic anxiety can negatively impact your physical health. Anxiety triggers the fight-or-flight response, also known as the acute stress response. This response refers to the automatic physiological reaction that occurs when in the presence of something mentally or physically terrifying and activates the sympathetic nervous system that prepares the body to fight or flee. It causes the brain to send a surge of adrenaline (which amplifies energy output by expanding the airways, increasing heart rate and blood pressure, and redistributing blood to muscles) and cortisol (which rapidly increases blood glucose, providing a prolonged burst of energy to cope with acute stress more effectively) throughout the body. Anxiety also prompts:

  • The release of stress hormones: Anxiety affects certain hormones in the brain, including cortisol, known as the primary stress hormone, and corticotropin releasing factor (CRF), which is the neuroendocrine system mediating the stress response.
  • The amygdala to enlarge: An enlarged amygdala (area of the brain that perceives feelings of stress, anxiety, irritability, and processes fear) intensifies the body’s response to threatening or scary situations. 
  • The hippocampus to shrink: The hippocampus (area of the brain associated with learning and memory) connects to the amygdala, and together they control emotional memory recalling and regulation.
  • The structural brain connections to weaken: Anxiety can deteriorate the connection between the amygdala and pre-frontal cortex (area of the brain that reigns rational thought, impulse control, executive planning, etc.), making it difficult for the prefrontal cortex to send a logical response to danger to the amygdala. This can increase one’s sensitivity to danger and hinder one’s ability to develop rational responses.

Anxiety can also adversely affect one’s excretory and digestive systems, leading to loss of appetite, stomachaches, nausea, diarrhea, and other digestive issues. Anxiety causes the blood-brain barrier to weaken and does not protect circulating inflammatory proteins from entering the brain. Chronic inflammation can lead to a range of health problems, including diabetes and heart disease. Prolonged stress and anxiety can alter protective immune responses, increasing one’s susceptibility to infections, such as colds, the flu, and other viral and bacterial disease.

Treatment In Calabasas

Calabasas is a city in California. It is a well-known suburb of Los Angeles, located west of the San Fernando Valley and north of the Santa Monica Mountains. Over the past decade, the city of Calabasas has grown in its reputation for luxury as well as for privacy which makes it a hidden gem for residential living for society’s elite, and one of the most desirable destinations in Los Angeles County. It is also home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services and treatment options. 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

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