The Real Health Cost of Anxiety Disorders

June 5, 2011 Kate White

Happy is what brings healthy, and viceversa, so it can't be that much of a surprise anxiety and depression have had some pretty rough consequences on my health; High blood pressure at 25, on-and-off flings with anemia, near-constant sleep deprivation.

I may as well have an imp bouncing up and down on my kidneys whilst someone tells my nervous system to pump out all the stress hormones its got, so I can feel normal, or at least prepared. Like a Girl Scout on crack. That's PTSD hypervigilance for you.
It's also that sometimes our bodies express what we are otherwise unwilling, or unable to say. "Swallowing one's pride, being choked up with grief, she hated my guts," these aren't just cliches but expressions of the relationship we have with ourselves; The way emotion and physical sensation remain interlocked despite the best efforts of Western medicine to treat them as entirely different bodies of knowledge.

Anxiety is a whole self issue; We may stay locked into patterns of poor health if the root cause isn't even looked for, let alone found.


Body and Mind: Treating one without the other is almost no treatment at all

I grind my teeth when I'm anxious. The dentist knows this -he hands me a stress ball, whenever I bother to show up. He also made me a niteguard to get between my tension and my teeth but it doesn't do much good since I unconsciously extract it whenever I have nightmares. ...You may see the problem here.

As we do at such times I turned on my automatic pilot and went through the motions of normalcy on the outside, so that I could concentrate all my powers on surviving the near-mortal wound inside.

Sonia Johnson

Beyond the science, there's a lot we don't say. Like how this is my body, this my path, and I need to find a way to connect to that. Not to some ideal on TV but in some way that doesn't make me so uncomfortable I'd rather grind my teeth into stubs than deal with it.

The mental health mind-body connection

Emotions aren't airy-fairy, hysteria-induced things. They're the tides that pull us, push us, hurt us, and help us. They keep us in sickness and in health, in some very literal ways >>

To get in between all that and start to change things has been an incredible, steep learning curve. Part of it comes through getting that my health is unlikely to look like your health. That there's no such thing as an ideal body, or mind.

What does happy even mean, when it comes to health?*

There are averages, bell curves, and BMIs. Maybe you fit the norm, maybe you don't but what helps is meeting my own body where it's at and not feeling like I've failed in doing so; By putting down a few of the cultural ideals and facing facts -about anxiety and stress, and the intersections of mental health and mental illness.

When I was miserable beyond any measure they've invented, I didn't always look it, on the outside. A blood panel would've told a different story; I wasn't happy, there was no way my body was going to be.

Health is both a state of emotion and a physical reality. They're interdependent--working on the one helps the other; 'Happy' doesn't end at the brainstem.

*this post inspired by my good friend/fellow blogger Svasti.

APA Reference
White, K. (2011, June 5). The Real Health Cost of Anxiety Disorders, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 17 from

Author: Kate White

June, 5 2011 at 3:20 pm

I think that one of the main topics often ignored or simply put aside is social anxiety disorders. I think it's best explained here:
The toll is just as great as of any anxiety disorder.

Wendy from Australia
June, 10 2011 at 5:16 pm

I found this blog hit me hard as I am in a terrible period of anxiety due to aggressive males, including a borther and also aggressive males in AA where I am 12 years sober triggering my terrible memories and my hyper-vigilance.
My body is affected to a huge extent. I have chronic IBS, but it is acute and violent at the moment and it is no way to live. It is debilitating and depressing and isolating. I also have chronic neck and back problems which are flaring and well sleep, forget it. The only thing I can do is treat myself with kid gloves, continue to be a compliant psych patient who involves herself assertively in her psych treatment and therapy and now am also attending Alanon. I have to stay away from AA for a while as the PTSD is through the roof and the meetings I go to are getting out of control.

Kate White
June, 10 2011 at 5:49 pm

Hi Wendy,
A fellow Aussie. Nice to see!
Meanwhile, I like your approach. It takes attitude to deal with so much at once. Without that it's too too easy to get lost. Being one's own self-advocate when you're backed in a corner gets a big thumbs up from me. Especially as I know how much energy you just don't have when you're flooded with memories and all the rest.
I hope your symptoms settle down soon, with that space and care you're giving yourself. Not an easy situation by the sounds of things.

Leave a reply