Do you ever feel physical pain during a long work week? When your week is packed with deadlines and stressful meetings, your body can respond with headaches, stomach pain, and a variety of other symptoms. These problems aren’t just bad luck! Your body is responding to the stress and exhaustion in your head and trying to send you warning signs to step back and take a break. 

Many mental problems show up in physical ways. If you learn to read your body, you can start to identify these symptoms and know when to focus on your mental health. Here are just a few symptoms to listen to. 

#1) Muscle Tension

Muscle tension may occur as a result of an anxiety or panic attack. Often, the stress makes you feel tenser – you might hunch your shoulders or tense up during a stressful meeting. The result is pain and soreness after the stress has passed or continuous pain during the panic attack. 

#2) Stomach Pain, Nausea, or Irritability

Digestive problems and mental health are closely related – meaning the “gut feeling” you experience when you are stressed can actually result in physical problems. It’s not uncommon for people with anxiety to also feel nauseous or to have irritable bowel syndrome because of the stress. Unfortunately, this often builds upon the unwell feeling.  

#3) Shortness of Breath

Many people complain about their inability to breathe when they are stressed. They will either feel like their airwaves are closing up or experience pressure on their chests. In some cases, patients will experience short, rapid breaths, and even hyperventilate as they try to take control of their mental health. 

This shortness of breath can turn anxiety into a full-blown panic attack as you feel like you can’t breathe, and your body is shutting down.  

#4) Rapid Heart Rate

Along with shortness of breath, mental health issues can also cause a rapid heart rate. In a way, both the mental and physical ailments build on each other. People who feel like they are losing control during a panic attack might notice a rapid heart rate. This causes even more stress, worsening their mental health. 

Additionally, many panic attack symptoms align with symptoms of a heart attack, making it hard for people to decide whether or not they are just struggling mentally or if they are at risk of cardiovascular failure.  

#5) Unhealthy Sleep Patterns

Sleep and mental health are closely linked. While anxiety may cause fatigue, it can also prevent you from falling asleep. The result is a feeling of exhaustion with no way to alleviate it. Similarly, people with depression may sleep several more hours each day than the average person, but still feel unable to find the energy to get out of bed. 

Whether the issue is too much sleep or not enough, the body can suffer mentally and physically, worsening any existing mental issues that caused the sleep problems. 

Work on Your Physical and Mental Health Together

If you feel like your body is responding to mental stressors, work with a professional that specializes in the mind-body connection. The doctors at Sunshine Behavioral Medicine focus on the minds of patients while also evaluating their physical health. Both elements work together to create a whole human – a healthy, happy you.  

Cover photo courtesy of Unsplash