What are Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety is one of the most common disorders to affect the elderly.  In India, anxiety disorders are seen in 10.8% of older adults, according to a study. As the number of geriatric population is more than 14 million in India, this becomes quite a daunting figure.

Anxiety is not a single condition. Rather, it is a group of many different types of related conditions of anxious thoughts. Panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and social anxiety disorder are all part of the anxiety disorder group.

Also Read: Anxiety Disorders: Overview, Symptoms and Treatment

Kidneys and Anxiety

Anxiety impacts your life in more ways that you can expect, both psychologically and physically. In fact, most of your body organs are affected by anxiety, including the digestive system, immune system, respiratory system, excretory system and your kidneys.

But how does anxiety being a mental health issue affect your kidneys? To answer this question, let us look more deeply at anxiety.

Anxiety is related to the fight-or-flight response of the body. When you are anxious, the brain sends out the message to your organs that the body is facing a threat. Neurotransmitters convey the impulse to the nervous system, heart and muscles. Immediately, some hormones like cortisol are secreted that causes some changes like quickening the heart rate and tensing muscles. Blood flow is diverted from other organs to the brain. There is a spike in blood pressure and blood sugar. The levels of fats (lipids) in the blood may also increase.

Over time, these changes can affect your organs including the kidneys.

Also Read: Anxiety Disorders and Acid Reflux

As there are changes in the patterns of blood circulation during anxiety, kidneys tend to suffer as their work is to filter the blood. Blood sugar and blood pressure spikes during anxiety attacks also place a major load on your kidneys. If you already have high blood pressure and diabetes, you are at higher risk for kidney disease.

Additionally, the pressure on the heart increases when you have an anxiety attack. Frequent attacks can lead to heart disorders. This, in turn, affects the kidneys, as the heart and the kidneys work in tandem with each other.

If you already have heart disorders or blood vessel complications, you are at higher risk for kidney disease. If you have an underlying kidney condition, the effect of anxiety can become more dangerous.

What Can You Do to Manage This?

It is very difficult, and sometimes impossible, to control anxiety. Most doctors suggest psychiatric support and counseling to help you manage the intensity and frequency of anxiety disorders. You can also practice some measures to reduce anxiety:

  1. Have a healthy diet: Limit salt and caffeine intake (especially if you have high blood pressure). Limit sugar, sweets, fizzy drinks and carbohydrates (especially if you are diabetic). Limit fats (especially if you are obese or at risk for heart and blood vessel diseases).
  2. Relax your mind and body: Practice relaxation methods like yoga and meditation and get enough sleep. Try to maintain a fixed routine every day. If possible take vacations.
  3. Vent your emotions: Talk about your issues to a close one or a psychiatrist
  4. Maintain a positive outlook
  5. Exercise regularly

Talk to your doctor and see what diet and exercise plan works for you. Anxiety disorders can be debilitating if left unattended. But by proper management, you too can lead a healthy life.

Also Read: The Current Situation of Kidney Transplantation in India

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