High Anxiety Can Leave You Feeling Hungry
All animals, including humans, clearly experience fear but fear is a focused response to a clear and present danger.. anxiety is not. Humans are unique in that we have an ability to use our imagination and memory to move backwards (remembering an event) and forward (anticipating an event). According to the American Psychological Association, anxiety is an emotional response characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure. If that sounds as though they were describing your day, you're not alone. It is natural for anyone to worry over his or her responsibilities and commitments.
For most people, having friends, family members or co-workers say "don't worry", doesn't really have much impact on how they feel inside. But — don't worry — anxiety* (within reason) is simply a result of chemicals being released in the brain that are connected to your innate "fight" or "flight" behaviors. Stressors, such as the presence of a saber-tooth tiger or having to meet a deadline at work, can trigger the brain to release adrenalin and a steroid hormone called cortisol. This gives you an immediate burst of energy and adjusts the way your body manages sugar and insulin levels in the blood.
Although having a pressing deadline at work feels like a real threat, fighting and fleeing are not viable options. Once the initial boost adrenalin is gone, you are left with a surplus of cortisol that triggers your appetite and produces strong hunger pangs. Unfortunately, anything you eat will likely be stored as visceral fat, usually around the mid section. Visceral fat has been linked to heart disease, diabetes and weight gain. Since you can't avoid stress in today's fast-paced world, researchers suggest that you exercise more, eat better, avoid negative lifestyle issues, get six to eight hours of sleep and supplement your diet with needed nutrients.
*NOTE: When excessive worry or fear about everyday situations persists, it is important to discuss these repeated episodes with a healthcare provider who can determine whether your anxiety is related to a medical condition or phobia.
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