“For Many Years I Wasn’t Sure Whether My Flu Was Causing My Anxiety, Or My Anxiety Was Causing My Flu!.”
There are many different types of anxiety related disorders and each of them can be very distressing for the anxiety sufferer. Hence, when anxiety occurs along with the flu, it can be quite overwhelming for people with anxiety. Even though the flu causing virus cannot directly result in anxiety, the viral condition and anxiety tend to feed off each other resulting in a vicious cycle of flu related physical issues.
Flu cases in America have been extremely bad this year. In fact, it is the worst in almost ten years!
It’s important for anxiety sufferers with the flu to efficiently manage both the flu as well as their anxiety levels. One of the basic connections between the flu and anxiety is the constant sense of worry about being infected with the flu from someone coughing or sneezing when travelling around in the subways or other public transportation systems.
Worrying about getting sick, and later excessive worrying about the duration of a possible flu infection, and worrying about the possible ill-effects of the flu on work and daily routines can all take a toll on the mental health, thereby increasing anxiety levels.
Even though the connection between the occurrence of flu and increased anxiety is observable, it may be noted that the viral illness does not trigger a new case of anxiety, but only intensifies a pre-existing anxiety disorder.
Most people who visit the doctor for treatment for the flu have also been found to be suffering from anxiety and or depression. However, once there is improvement in the physical health of the affected person, there is significant improvements in their mood as well as easement of anxiety.
It’s important to remember that anxiety and depression is not the result of being unwell and relegation to bed rest due to the flu. The immune system recognizes influenza viruses and stimulates the white blood cells to begin the production of cytokines.
Cytokines are a type of inflammatory proteins which help the body in fighting off the viral infection.
These proteins also however increase uneasiness and make the sufferers feel terrible during the battle with the viruses. The secretion of large amounts of cytokines into the body results in fatigue, muscles aches, high fever, and nausea, etc., all of which are symptoms of the flu.
These proteins can also trigger inflammation of areas around the brain, thereby causing reduced concentration, poor thinking, as well as depression and mood changes.
It is a known fact that physical ill-health can produce a severely draining effect on mental health. Thus, stress caused due to the occurrence of discomforting flu symptoms can worsen anxiety. Research has shown that mental conditions tend to inhibit the immune system via increased manufacture of cortisol and other stress hormones.
Therefore, the process of dealing with anxiety as well as the flu can be extremely difficult for an anxiety sufferer and result in a vicious cycle of “flu causing anxiety” and vice versa. This is particularly true for anxiety sufferers who seek treatment for the flu but not for anxiety.
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