Can Anxiety Feel Like A Stroke?

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Anxiety and stroke are different – while anxiety is commonly considered as mental health problem (psychological disorder), stroke is a physical health condition. The causes and risk factors of both problems are also different. Nevertheless, this mental disorder can feel like a stroke (sometime medically called as ‘cerebrovascular accident’). It is not only characterized by changes in moods. Instead many times, it can trigger some physical symptoms. And some of these symptoms also can occur if you have a brain attack like cerebrovascular accident.

Anxiety – what actually is it and how does it occur?

Experiencing anxiety occasionally is perfectly normal and even expected to alert you to certain conditions or danger.

But when it comes persistently or even interferes with your routines such as sleep and work, this is now considered as disorder that should be not ‘left untreated’. For this case, it will probably affect your productivity and even your relationships with others.

Over time, it will also probably cause health problems. The complications that may occur include chronic headache, changes in bowel movements, insomnia, and depression.

The cause of the problem can vary from patient to patient. There is wide range of trigger factors. In many cases, it occurs due to life experiences that typically associated with a traumatic event such as losing someone that you love a lot or else.

Sometime the use of certain medicine or having a certain health problem may also be a trigger factor. But overall, the cause of this disorder is not fully understood.

Doctors only know that there are some factors that can put someone at higher risk than others to have an anxiety disorder.

These risk factors include:

  1. Abusing alcohol.
  2. Having a family history of anxiety disorder.
  3. Having other personality disorders like borderline personality disorder.
  4. Gender, women are more likely to develop it than men.
  5. Having childhood trauma or a traumatic event.

Sometime having chronic health problems (such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, asthma, under /over-active thyroid, muscle cramps, or chronic burning /tingling sensation with unknown cause) can have an effect to your risk.

image_illustration61A serious health condition can trigger more stress or excessive worry about the prognosis and treatment. It can have more contribution than other factors in causing an anxiety disorder if:

  1. Your anxiety disorder didn’t occur in your childhood.
  2. You notice the symptoms of the problem after the age of 35.
  3. You don’t have a family history of the problem.
  4. There is no specific thing (like a traumatic event) that triggers the problem.
  5. The common medicines to improve the symptoms of anxiety don’t work.

How does stroke occur?

In essence, you can get a stroke attack when the oxygen and nutrients supply for the cells of your brain doesn’t run as well as it should. As well we know, the distribution of oxygen and nutrients to all cells of the body is carried by the blood that flow through blood vessels.

Arteries are the major blood vessels that carry blood away from the heart to cells of the body, including for cells of your brain. Conversely, veins are the major blood vessels that take blood poor in oxygen and nutrient back into your heart.

When there is an artery that lines to the brain is blocked, some cells of the brain cannot get the oxygen and nutrients that they need.

It can make these cells begin to die, which then can affect some body’s functions, depending on where the area of brain is affected (the parts of brain that is damaged due to stroke can significantly affect which side of the body will be affected).

How does anxiety feel like a stroke?

In general, anxiety is characterized by excessive and persistent worry about certain concerns (either minor or major concerns).

But sometime anxiety can be followed with some physical symptoms that are similar to signs of an impending stroke.

The following are some of these symptoms!

Feeling powerless

In a stroke attack, sufferers are suddenly very poor in controlling or moving certain parts of their body such as leg or arm. Typically, this sudden disability affect one side of the body ‘left or right’ – though it may also affect both sides of the body.

A sudden powerless and trembling also can occur if you are experiencing an anxiety disorder, though not all people with this disorder experience these symptoms when the problem flares up.

How about with excessive sweating?

Sweating during exercise, being exposed with hot ambient temperature, or due to other reasonable reasons is expected and perfectly normal. But if it occurs without known reason, it can point to a wide range of health problems, including anxiety disorder.

Excessive sweating is not one of common signs of stroke. But in a critical period of stroke attack, sufferer may experience excessive sweating.

Sudden headache

The blocked oxygen and nutrient supply to certain part of the brain can trigger a sudden headache. Typically, it is followed with vertigo or abnormal feeling of movement. But sudden dizziness or headache alone is usually not enough to call it as a warning sign of stroke.

During periods of anxiety, the body can release lots of hormones that can trigger more muscles to contract and stretch. This can cause more tension throughout the sufferer’s body, including the head and neck that can cause a sudden dizziness and headache.

Vision problems

One of common complications due to stroke is vision problem. It can be decreased vision, blurred vision, double vision problem, or problem in using one of the eyes.

Brain is very crucial to control some basic and complex body’s function, including for vision. The chance of vision problem to occur is dependent on which part of the brain is affected.

Anxiety affects the vision in different way, but it also can be potential to cause vision disturbances. The body can release more adrenaline during periods of anxiety. This may trigger the pupils to dilate which then will probably affect the vision.

Can anxiety cause numbness?

According to Mayo Clinic, anxiety is not one of health problems that can cause numbness. On the other hand, it is one of the common symptoms of stroke.

But the effect of anxiety that can trigger the heart to beat extremely faster than usual can affect the blood flow to feet and hand. This can cause tingling or maybe numbness.

How to distinguish both of these problems?

In general, the symptoms of stroke are relatively more severe than the symptoms of anxiety. However both can be harmful!

The easy way to distinguish both of problems is by analyzing the unique signs that appear.


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