Anxiety is a common human experience and there are commonly five diseases associated with anxiety. Anxiety can be due to the stress response (“fight or flight response”). This helps us cope with acute threats and is called “acute anxiety”. But anxiety can still be there long after the threat has passed. Then it is called “chronic anxiety”. Chronic anxiety is commonly associated with 5 clinical conditions, which will be reviewed here.
You have a gut feeling that something negative is going to happen. At this time you may feel “butterflies” in your stomach. People with chronic anxiety can develop a condition called “irritable bowel syndrome”. They can have symptoms of diarrhea and abdominal pain. Others get severe constipation.
With asthma your small bronchial tubes constrict. This causes a problem to get all the air out of your lungs. There is wheezing and air hunger. The person with these symptoms has asthma. Asthma attacks can be caused by environmental allergies or certain food allergies. But chronic anxiety can also cause asthma. People with asthma often get anxiety as well. This can lead to a vicious cycle.
The thyroid gland produces too thyroid hormones, T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine). When too much of it is secreted, the heart beats faster, blood pressure rises and the person becomes very anxious. In more than 70% of Americans radioactive iodine is given to convert hyperthyroidism into hypothyroidism. Replacement thyroid hormone is then given. Blood tests are indicating when the thyroid function is normal. It is my experience that a combination T3 and T4 replacement (like Armour) leads to the best result. By replacing both T3 and T4 the patient feels normal and all the original anxiety is resolved.
Anxiety does not cause heart disease. But heart disease causes chronic anxiety that can make heart disease worse. Stress and anxiety can also increase your heart rate and your blood pressure. This in turn can make preexisting hardening of the arteries worse. Often heart attacks are caused by a combination of factors. Hardening of the coronary arteries, anxiety and high blood pressure can all contribute. A patient may develop heart failure following a heart attack. This patient will suffer from chronic anxiety, because of the worry what would develop next with regard to the heart disease.
Chronic pain is very common among people with chronic anxiety. But painful conditions like fibromyalgia, arthritis and chronic headaches will often cause anxiety. This in turn can intensify the pain. Often a multidisciplinary approach to treat people with anxiety and pain will improve both conditions.
Conclusion re. five diseases associated with anxiety
As previously explained there are five diseases associated with anxiety. Chronic anxiety is often associated with very physical diseases as described. On the other hand, anxiety can amplify the symptoms associated with physical diseases. This is the case for asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, chronic pain conditions and heart disease. A multidisciplinary approach will often help improve the physical conditions and the anxiety. Treating anxiety is one aspect; addressing the disease issue is the other aspect of successful treatment.