When it comes to sleep and anxiety, it can often feel like a vicious cycle. Anxiety symptoms may lead to sleep disturbances, and lack of sleep can exacerbate anxiety. Here, you can learn more about the bidirectional relationship between sleep disturbances and anxiety, the best treatment options available for anxiety, and how an internist can help in managing the condition effectively.
Recognizing Symptoms of Anxiety
Anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive worry, fear, or unease, which can manifest in various ways. Anxiety can deeply impact an individual’s thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and physical health.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a long-term form of anxiety, characterized by anxious feelings about a broad range of issues, rather than a specific incident. Individuals with GAD feel anxious most days and often find it hard to relax. As soon as one anxious thought is resolved, another emerges, causing the cycle to continue.
Although it may manifest uniquely in each person, anxiety may result in the following signs and symptoms:
- Persistent worry
- Inability to tolerate uncertainty
- Fixating on fears or worries
- Falsely interpreting situations as threatening
- A sense of dread or doom
- Persistently feeling “on edge”
- Problems concentrating
- Trouble sleeping, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep (insomnia)
- Palpitations (feelings of having a pounding, fluttering,fast, or irregular heartbeat)
- Shortness of breath
- Muscle aches/tension
- Dry mouth
- Excessive sweating
- Gastrointestinal problems, such as stomach ache
- Experiencing pins and needles sensation
Symptoms of anxiety can lead to the avoidance of social interactions to evade negative feelings. It may also make going to work or school difficult and stressful, leading to time off sick. Overtime, this avoidance can further fuel anxiety and lower self-esteem.
The Link Between Anxiety and Sleep Disturbances
Sleep disturbances, such as difficulty falling asleep, frequent awakenings, and restless or unsatisfying sleep, are common among individuals with anxiety disorders. Many people find themselves focusing more on their worries once they are lying in bed and no longer have the distractions of the day. Anxious thoughts and feelings can keep the mind racing, making it difficult to relax and fall asleep. Moreover, anxiety can lead to physiological changes, such as increased heart rate and muscle tension, which further disrupt sleep.
Conversely, a lack of restorative sleep can intensify anxiety symptoms creating a bidirectional relationship between sleep disturbances and anxiety. This is primarily due to an increase in cortisol in the bodycaused by lack of sleep. Cortisol, a glucocorticoid hormone produced and released by the adrenal glands,is often referred to as the “stress hormone.” This is because your body releases cortisol during times of stress to help you stay on high alert.Glucocorticoidsaffect sleep-wake cycles, and a release of cortisolcan make it difficult to fall or stay asleep.
Sleep deprivation can also exacerbate low mood and the pattern of negative thinking, which in turn, can make symptoms of anxiety worse. Those with insomnia may begin to develop worries about whether or not they will be able to fall asleep, thereby leading to increased levels of anxiety.
When to Seek Professional Help
It’s crucial to consult with a healthcare provider if anxiety or poor sleep is causing you distress or affecting your daily life. Your provider will discuss your symptoms with you, along with talking about your worries, fears, and emotions, to help make a diagnosis and develop a personalized treatment plan that is tailored to your unique needs and requirements.
Treatment for Anxiety: A Multi-Pronged Approach
Finding the most effective treatment for anxiety involves addressing both the emotional and physical aspects of the condition. Treatment often involves a combination of treatments and lifestyle changesto reduce a patient’s anxiety and provide them with the tools and resources they need to learn to cope with their anxiety long term.
Below are some methods that can help manage anxiety and improve sleep quality:
- Medication Management: A variety of medications, including antidepressants, anti-anxiety drugs, and sleep aids, can be prescribed to help manage anxiety symptoms and sleep disturbances. An internist can assess your condition and determine the most appropriate course of treatment.
- Talk Therapy: Psychological treatments, such as psychotherapy and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), with a mental health professional can help individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors contributing to anxiety and sleep disturbances.
- Lifestyle Modifications: Practicing good sleep hygiene, reducing caffeine and alcohol intake, and engaging in regular physical activity can all aid in reducing anxiety and promoting better sleep.
- Relaxation Techniques: Deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, and guided imagery can help calm the mind and body, reducing anxiety and facilitating sleep.
The Role of an Internist in Medication Management
An internist specializes in the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of a wide range of adult health issues, including anxiety and sleep disturbances. The internist will thoroughly evaluate your unique situation, considering factors such as your medical history, current medications, and the severity of your anxiety and sleep disturbances.
They will then develop an individualized treatment plan that may include recommendations for medication adjustments, referrals to mental health professionals for therapy, or additional diagnostic testing to rule out underlying conditions that may be contributing to your anxiety and sleep disturbances.
Your internist will also closely monitor your response to any prescribed medications and adjust your treatment plan as necessary to ensure optimal results.
The bidirectional relationship between sleep disturbances and anxiety can make it challenging to break free from their grip. However, by working closely with an internist and exploring various treatment options, individuals experiencing these issues can find relief from anxiety symptoms and enjoy restful, rejuvenating sleep.
Treatment for Anxiety Symptoms in Dallas, Texas
If you are struggling with anxiety and sleep disturbances, don’t hesitate to reach out to Prime Internal Medicine Associates for expert care and medication management. Our experienced internists are dedicated to helping you achieve optimal health and well-being.
We are dedicated to providing expert diagnosis and treatment for an array of acute and chronic health issues. Our holistic approach concentrates not only on addressing patients’ specific medical requirements, but also lifestyle modifications that can positively impact long-term health and wellbeing.
To learn more about the services we offer or to book a visit to our friendly practice, call us at (972) 239-5445 or use our convenient online appointment request form. We offer personalized, comprehensive healthcare to adults of all ages in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex area.
Don’t let anxiety and sleep disturbances hold you back any longer – take the first step towards a better tomorrow by seeking help from our compassionate team at Prime Internal Medicine Associates today.