The symptoms of many mental health disorders show up cognitively, emotionally, and physically. Anxiety is no exception. This common mental health condition is linked to various symptoms that can span the entire body, such as:
- heart palpitations
- stomach issues
Commonly, people with anxiety experience a range of symptoms affecting how they feel “in their head.” These can include:
- brain fog
- dissociation — the sensation of feeling disconnected from yourself and the outer world
If you or a loved one has been experiencing these or other “weird” feelings in your head, it’s possible that anxiety might be the cause.
While occasional anxiety is a part of everyone’s life, when fear or worry begin to adversely affect a person’s life, it can turn into an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders include:
- generalized anxiety disorder
- obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD
- panic disorder
- post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD
- social anxiety disorder
These all appear to be influenced by a mix of genetics and a person’s situational environment, including their lifestyle choices and upbringing. These disorders sometimes co-occur with depression or other mental health disorders, compounding the symptoms.
Why does it affect the head?
Anxiety has also been linked to
Scientists have found connections between anxiety and some strange physical, cognitive, and emotional sensations that seem to mainly affect the head. Here are a few common ways that anxiety can affect your head:
- negative self-talk
- constant worry
- racing thoughts
- obsessive thoughts
While experts agree more research is needed to understand exactly how anxiety is linked to weird feelings in the head, they have also uncovered a link between
Researchers point out that people with anxiety tend to have issues with controlling worried thoughts, which seems to trigger migraines and
Certain physical symptoms associated with anxiety can cause weird feelings in the head as well. Symptoms that affect the body’s circulatory system, like heart palpitations and temporary spikes in blood pressure, can cause feelings in the head like:
- a choking sensation
- sweating on the face
Other common anxiety symptoms include:
- headache, including migraine headaches
- dissociation and a lack of connection with reality
- derealization and depersonalization
- brain fog, or an inability to think clearly
- racing thoughts
- rumination and obsessive thoughts (especially with OCD-type anxiety)
- pressure in the ears or head
- ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- pain in the head
- numbness or tingling in the head
There are various types of anxiety disorders, each with associated symptoms. Any of these anxiety disorders may cause a weird feeling in your head.
You might have anxiety if those strange sensations are accompanied by:
- excessive sweating
- heavy and quick breathing rate
- hot flashes
- dry mouth
- hair loss
- fast heartbeat
Eliminating the underlying cause of the weird feelings in your head requires treating the underlying issue.
These sensations and other symptoms of anxiety can also be symptoms for other types of mental disorders, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Determining the underlying cause will help you seek appropriate treatment.
If anxiety is the cause, just know that recovery is possible, and treatment and support are fairly widespread and available for many people.
An example treatment plan includes regular talk therapy, and sometimes antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication. Anxiety can also be managed with:
- therapy animals
- art therapies like music and drawing
Medical cannabis is a treatment that may work well for some people, but in others could make anxiety worse, depending on the strain ingested. More research is needed to determine how successful it is at treating anxiety.
If you suspect you might have an anxiety disorder, or if the weird feelings in your head don’t go away in time, schedule an appointment with a mental healthcare professional right away. The same is true if the feelings in your head are so severe they interfere with your everyday life.
You should also schedule a physical exam with a medical professional for any onset of physical symptoms, even if you suspect they are a result of a mental health condition.
Anxiety is a common human experience. However, some people experience the emotional, physical, and cognitive symptoms of anxiety on a more frequent and intense basis than others. Those who do are said to have an anxiety disorder.
Anxiety is known to manifest in various ways throughout the body, including in the head. Anxiety is a highly treatable condition, and in time and with effort, symptoms will become manageable.