So, when you feel an episode of anxiety and panic overtaking you, what exactly is going on inside your body? Most of the symptoms that I used to complain about the most were a racing heart rate, uncontrolled breathing, sweating, and the feeling that I wanted to bolt down the street running (FEAR).
Sometimes when we are overwhelmed by stress and anxiety our bodies react by releasing a chemical called adrenaline, or what I call ‘anxiety juice.’ You can think of adrenaline as the fuel behind a lot of the symptoms and sensations that you endure.
Adrenaline, also known as epinephrine, is a hormone and neurotransmitter that activates the fight or flight mechanism in your brain and body. The flight or fight mechanism is turned on when your brain registers danger or a high stress situation. It’s basically a survival tool that all animals have.
Once your brain receives a message that your in trouble, adrenaline is pumped into your bloodstream and causes your heart rate to increase (increased oxygen), dilates pupils (for better vision), increases sweat production (keeps you cool in case you need to run), suppresses immune system (not needed in danger situations) and creates a general (but awful) feeling of fear.
This reaction is supposed to help you survive a potentially life threatening situation, but 99% of the time your reaction is a false alarm and even though you feel like your ready for action, there is nothing going on.
The anxiety juice is kept in adrenal glands (see the above image) that sit on top of the kidneys. All this anxiety juice production is regulated by the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system, which help to control our bodies movements and control anxiety juice production (and associated organs).
When we are racked by stress and anxiety, which can be caused by either a chemical imbalance in the brain, heredity, or just high levels of stress, we lose the balance between the two systems and this can lead to the intensification of the bodies normal functions.
When we are in balance we normally don’t feel the heart beating or the speed and rhythm of breathing. But when we are anxious or highly stressed the body produces and releases anxiety juice which excites your organs and causes you to be fully aware of your bodies normal functions. This can of course freak you out and make you think your dying or that something serious is happening.
The truth is that this pattern of fear, anxiety juice, anxiety/panic is always the same. The body will always create the same type of sensations and these sensations will not harm you. Of course, you want to get checked by a medical doctor to make sure you don’t have any underlying conditions.
But once you have been reassured by a medical professional, then be confident that this anxiety juice and the things it makes you feel will not kill or harm you. I know this is hard to accept, but you have to know that this is your body and mind playing tricks on you.
I will expand on the best ways to cope with anxiety in other posts and will introduce you to natural anxiety remedies that can be used to cope and even eliminate this hated state of mind.