If you’re experiencing a cluster of dread and spikes of panicky feelings, several things may help.

Q&A Ask a PsychologistShare on Pinterest
Illustration by Ruth Basagoitia

Q: What can I do to stop having symptoms of anxiety — churning stomach, profuse sweating, stomach pain, panic attacks, and a feeling of dread — every day for no apparent reason?

Physical symptoms of anxiety are no joke and can disrupt our day-to-day functioning. If you’re experiencing a cluster of dread and spikes of panicky feelings, several things may help. 

First, understanding how anxiety affects the body can be useful.

Here’s what happens: When we’re anxious, the heart races and the stomach swirls, which is a sign of the ‘fight-or-flight’ response — a stressful state the body enters when it senses danger. As long as the body remains stressed, these anxiety symptoms continue.

The key to interrupting this cycle is to bring the body back into a place of relaxation.

Merely taking some deep belly breaths can disrupt these stressful symptoms. Meditation or restorative yoga can also be useful. Each of these techniques can calm down an overactive nervous system. 

Sometimes, however, the physical symptoms of anxiety are so severe that medication may be needed. How can you tell? If you try tools, such as deep breathing, mindfulness, and talking to a therapist, and you feel even more agitated because nothing seems to ease your anxiety, medication may be needed.

Talking to your physician or finding a psychotherapist can be a great starting point. From there, your healthcare provider can put a treatment plan into action, which can help you feel more in control of your life. 

Juli Fraga lives in San Francisco with her husband, daughter, and two cats. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times, Real Simple, the Washington Post, NPR, the Science of Us, the Lily, and Vice. As a psychologist, she loves writing about mental health and wellness. When she’s not working, she enjoys bargain shopping, reading, and listening to live music. You can find her on Twitter