I feel like my body is going to explode

Signs Your Body Is Sending That You Have Anxiety or Depession

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Sometimes your body will let you know when your mind is in danger. Myles Aronowitz/Netflix

Most of us would agree that life is hectic. At some point, we all find ourselves on the proverbial hamster wheel, going round and round, without any breaks. And although some people are masters at managing all that life throws at them, others, (most of us) have some physical and emotional fallout from the daily stressors in our life.

Think back to the last time you felt threatened or stressed. Did you notice your breath quickening or your muscles tensing up? Maybe you’ve been experiencing an uneasiness in your stomach for the last several months or chronic headaches when you worry too much.

Jenny C. Yip, PsyD, ABPP, told INSIDER, these are all signs of the fight-or-flight response in action — a common, biological reaction that we all experience under stress.

"Despite what you might imagine, the fight-or-flight response can be healthy," explains Yip. After all, our ancestors needed it for survival when faced with a real threat.

However, Yip says that if you're constantly in a state of chronic stress and anxiety, your body will continue to trigger the fight-or-flight response, wearing down your physical and mental wellbeing.

She shared a few physical signs that might indicate your mental health is in jeopardy:

You feel like your heart’s going to burst

Getty Images

Is your heart constantly racing? Heart palpitations are commonly-known as signs of anxiety and are likely the first things you'll notice when you're experiencing chronic stress, Yip said.

This is because when you're anxious your brain is releasing hormones that can cause your heart to pound, according to WebMD.

Your skin feels funny

Nate Steiner/Flickr

Have you ever felt your palms when you’re feeling overly stressed or anxious? Like heart palpitations, sweaty palms are a common sign of anxiety, Yip told INSIDER. This typically happens when your sweat glands are stimulated in response to your fight-or-flight, or sympathetic nervous system.

Your insides are angry


The fight-or-flight response triggers adrenaline in the body, which slows, and can even stop, digestion so that the body can send all its energy toward facing a threat, Yip said. If you're under stress all the time, it's common to experience an upset stomach, which can quickly turn into Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS).

IBS is not directly caused by anxiety but the chemical changes in your body thanks to stress can play a big part in it.  

Your head won’t stop pounding


Much like stomachaches, if you're under continual stress, you may experience chronic headaches as well, Yip told us. Usually, these headaches will appear in the middle of the day and may come and go over many months.

Several studies have linked anxiety and depression to headaches, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

You’re always tired

Teerawit Chankowet/Shutterstock

When your mind is constantly overwhelmed, your body will feel it too. Your mind is like a plate; when it is full of stress and worries, there is no room for more productive tasks, Yip said. You'll know your mental health is at stake if you're tired day in and day out.

A study found that chronic fatigue can often be linked to anxiety and depression and that they often can be misdiagnosed as each other.  

You can’t stay focused

Unsplash/Agnieszka P

It might surprise you that when your biological fight-or-flight response is running strong, it decreases the ability to think analytically, Yip told INSIDER. You'll feel unfocused and unable to concentrate on complex — or even simple — projects.

Anxiety and depression can often make you feel confused or even detached from your everyday life, according to the Calm Clinic.

You’re up all night

Sergey Mironov/Shutterstock

Ruminating thoughts can wear you down and lead to difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep. This fight or flight state can cause you to be in a state of "hyperarousal," which can make it difficult to fall asleep.

When everything is quiet at bedtime, yet you find your mind racing with worrisome thoughts, it's time to take charge of your mental health.

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Mental Health Mental Illness Health


Sensory Overload, Tension and Stress

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph. D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states ...Read More

E. Mail Question, This is a sample from a reader:

“I’m trying to figure out why I get so irritated by the noise around me these days.

I have a co-worker who is constantly chewing on ice and I can’t stand the sound of it. She then starts eating chips or whatever and she rattles the paper and the whole time I’m thinking, ‘Will you please hurry up and get done so you can stop all the paper rattling?’

As I sit and listen to this on a daily basis, I feel like I’m going to explode at any minute. Sometimes I have to get up and leave the room before I say something I’ll regret later.

Also, I can’t deal with the conversations going on around me. It’s usually 2 or 3 people talking, but, it seems like it’s a million people and I just want quiet.

How do I stop getting so irritated by all this crap?”

Do you sometimes experience tension headaches, irritability, intolerance to others and what they are saying, high blood pressure, neck spasms, back aches and mild depression? For many people these distressing symptoms are caused or worsened by the assault on our sensory organs and nervous systems of all of these stimuli. These overwhelming stimuli come from:

1. Crisscrossing fields of microwave, radio, television, and electronic transmissions.

2. Noise, traffic pollution, loud and blasting music, such as from kids driving cars and playing loud Rap music accompanied by pounding sounds, and constant television that no one at home turns off.

3. Bombardments of news, all types of new information and endless advertising.

4. The pressure to produce more, be more efficient and deal with fierce economic competition.

5. The fear of unemployment and financial ruin.

6. The epidemic of drug abuse among younger and younger kids while drug cartels and drug wars dominate the headlines.

7. Threats of terrorism and war.

8. A high rate of divorce and the problems faced by people in their private lives.

Another way of saying this is that we are submerged in a sea of over-stimulation. and in a sea of over-stimulation. This is taking a toll on our health, psychological well being and our ability to remain calm, patient and balanced.

This is what the sample E.Mail writer is complaining about. She sometimes feels like she is about to explode at any moment.

From time to time all of us feel that way. We tend to handle this inner pressure by drinking, using drugs, engaging in road rage, over eating and wasting time fuming over things we cannot control.

Does this sound very gloomy and are we helpless before all of this stimuli? It may seem that way but it’s not true because there are many things we can do to mitigate the effects the effects of these annoying forces.

First, it’s important to become aware of what is happening to do something about it. It’s amazing that people are either not aware of all the competing noises and environmental pressures or they deny that it can have a negative effect on their well being.

After denial ends and awareness sets in there are many things to help ourselves. For instance, the woman who wrote the E.Mail might be able to bring her Ipod to work, plug ear phones in and listen to quiet and soothing music while she works. Of course, this depends on her being allowed to do this. However, there are other things that she and all of us can do:

1. Guided-imagery is a proven method to reduce stress by utilizing our ability to use imagination and visualization to increase wellness.

2. It is now known that meditation is a powerful method that has a calming effect on the nervous system and is even used in reducing depression and anxiety.

3. Mindfulness living uses meditation but is part of a larger context in learning how to live at the moment while tuning out disturbing stimuli while appreciating what is pleasant and healthy.

4. As part of this is the importance of using nature to our benefit. Recent research shows how walking in a park or forest helps us reduce stress and feel better.

5. Physical exercise has multiple benefits in keeping weight off while promoting a sense of well being after the exercise session is finished.

6. All of this depends on eating a healthy diet. Green, yellow leafy vegetables, fruits and nuts and fish and more add to physical and emotional health.

7. There is nothing more helpful than using your lunch hour and coffee breaks at work to relax and get your mind off of pressure. Use your evenings and vacations to engage in activities that take you far away from problems and put you into a state of relaxation.

8. Turn off the television and loud music. Too many programs, including those on such channels as Discovery, Science and History, convince viewers that the world is about to end. This gloom and doom programming may increase numbers of viewers but can only increase depression and anxiety about things that might happen ten thousand or more years from now. I don’t plan to be around that long. Do you?

There is no feeling worse than helplessness. The fact is that there are all of things and more that can be done. We are not helpless.

I direct all of you Dr. Elisha Goldstein, Mentalhelp.net, who is expert in all of this. Read his articles and learn more about how to live better.

Your questions and comments are encouraged.

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD

Keep Reading By Author Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

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"I suffer from exploding head syndrome"

  • Helen Thomson
  • BBC Future

Image copyright Thinkstock

It's strange, unpleasant, and surprisingly common. Correspondent BBC Future spoke to a man whose head regularly "explodes" and found out how this condition can explain some unusual cases - maybe even alien abductions.

"Suddenly there is a noise that grows and gets louder, then there is a booming unpleasant sound of an explosion, then some kind of electrical hiss and a bright flash of light in front of my eyes, as if someone had directed a bright beam of a lantern directly into my face."

This is exactly how Niels Nielsen talks about what it is like for a person living with "exploding head syndrome", an unpleasant and sometimes terrifying sensation.

Other people describe it as a bomb going off next to their head when they fall asleep. For some, this happens once in a lifetime, for others, "explosions" thunder many times during one night.

(Similar articles in the Journal section)

The American physician Silas Weir Mitchell first described the disease in 1876, when he examined the symptoms of two men suffering from what he called "sensory discharges."

Patients themselves have reported hearing "loud bells" or "gunshots" that wake them up at night. Despite the provocative and intriguing name, researchers have paid relatively little attention to this disease.

However, there is now a theory that this disease and its accompanying sleep disorder can explain cultural phenomena that have no obvious connection with it - in particular, where stories of alien abductions, government conspiracy theories and stories about demons come from.

So what do we know about this nocturnal experience?

To begin with, this is not as rare an occurrence as you might think.

In a study published in March, 211 college students were asked if they had ever experienced the condition.

18% answered in the affirmative. Perhaps this example does not reflect the true extent of the disorder, since it is common for students to experience lack of sleep.

This factor is known to increase the risk of exposure to the syndrome described here.

Image copyright Thinkstock

Image caption

This syndrome is not as rare as one might think

On a long-haul flight, you could very well experience this condition for yourself," says Bill Sharpless, assistant professor of psychology at the University of Washington who led the study. "Stress and emotional tension also affect the frequency of such cases."

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The hypotheses about the causes of exploding head syndrome are pretty speculative, Sharpless says.

Several explanations have been suggested, including ear problems and partial epileptic seizures.

The most convincing theory comes from a number of studies in which people with this symptom were observed overnight.

According to these studies, it can be assumed that a surge of neural activity occurs in the brain, which coincides in time with the described explosion.

Usually when we fall asleep, our body turns off, sleep paralysis sets in, we do not act in sleep.

During this wake-to-sleep transition, our brains shut down gradually, Sharpless says.

However, when exploding head syndrome occurs, a kind of "hiccup" occurs in the recticular or reticular formation of the brain, which, in particular, controls the state of sleep and wakefulness, which leads to a delay in the shutdown of some departments.

Image copyright, Thinkstock

Image caption,

Sleep paralysis may explain some alien stories areas of the brain that are responsible for sound processing.

"We think neurons suddenly fire all at once," Sharpless says. Which leads to a sensation of an explosion in the head.

"This theory seems convincing to me," says Nielsen. "There is some kind of electrical nature to this phenomenon. The sensation of an explosion is accompanied by a loud sound in both ears, as if you had closed two wires in an electric circuit and felt an electric shock."

According to Sharpless, some people experience a kind of electric shock from the lower torso to the head immediately after the "explosion".

"The sensation is the same as an electric shock," Nielsen says. "You feel the current running through you."

Although there is no one-size-fits-all remedy, antidepressants reduce the incidence of the syndrome. Relaxation and stress relief exercises also help.

"A person can be greatly helped simply by convincing him that no one thinks he is crazy, and that he does not have a tumor or other disorders in the brain," says Sharpless.

But wait, what does this have to do with alien abductions and supernatural beings?

Exploding head syndrome is often associated with sleep paralysis. Those who experience the first often experience the second.

Sleep paralysis is another creepy-feeling sleep disorder during which the person feels awake but cannot move. Sharpless believes that these two phenomena could explain some of the seemingly supernatural events.

Both sleep paralysis and exploding head syndrome seem to be related to a common underlying problem, which is the transition from wakefulness to sleep.

In sleep paralysis, part of the brain is in a state of REM sleep, i. in the phase when we see the most dreams, while other parts of consciousness are already awake.

"So your body is paralyzed and in REM sleep, but you're conscious," says Sharpless. everything that happens to you is a hallucination."

Photo copyright, Henri Fuseli Wikipedia

Photo caption,

In 1781, the artist Henry Fuseli depicted in his painting a demon sitting on the chest of a sleeping woman

Consider the case of Haruko Matsuda (not her real name), a Japanese woman who often experiences state of sleep paralysis.

Here is how she described her typical night to Bill Sharpless: “I felt something push my chest and opened my eyes. she said. “I thought it was a ghost or something like that. It screamed: “I will kill you!” I could not move, and I was very scared ... "

In the Middle Ages, the symptoms that Matsuda manifests could well be associated with demons in male or female form (incubi and succubus), which sit on people's chests and incline them to intercourse.

In later times, people who were frozen or blinded by bright lights in the dead of night could associate such states of theirs with alien abductions.

Turn to these supernatural or alien stories, Sharpless says, and you'll find signs of both sleep paralysis and exploding head syndrome.

"People who experience these strange explosions in their heads can easily think that something has been implanted in their brains. And when they feel an electrical discharge, they may well think that they were shot from some new energy weapon. They cannot move, but they hear and see amazing things, so they think that they have been kidnapped.

Niels Nielsen, who is now a psychiatrist, says he has experienced exploding head syndrome every few months since he was 10 years old.

Twice he experienced sleep paralysis. However, the scientific turn of his mind did not allow him to succumb to anxiety in connection with these experiences.

"I always used to approach things like this from a scientific point of view. So even as a teenager, I explained it to myself like this: oh, something electrical happened in my brain, and did not attach much importance to it," he says - These things did not bother me at all, but if someone is inclined to believe in the paranormal, I can easily imagine how such people explain such things from the standpoint of the supernatural.

Read the original of this article in English is available on the website BBC Future .

My history of self-harm. I often wanted to hurt myself

Cutting your hands?

Anxiety, confusion, depression

I constantly struggle with a sense of anxiety, which periodically intensifies. There may be several days or hours between attacks. When this feeling completely overwhelms me, I am unable to perform normal activities.

I can't eat, sleep, or even breathe normally without thinking specifically about breathing. I get very excited, I feel nauseous, my arms and legs are shaking, my heart is pounding. I feel the adrenaline flowing through my veins, I feel like it has nowhere to go.

A lot of thoughts swarm through my head. There are so many of them that I can't stop it, I can't separate them and deal with each thought separately. I get paranoid, I say and do stupid things. It looks like his head is about to explode. To the smallest irritant, I react angrily and aggressively. And usually, when something unpleasant happens, I just cry.

It's embarrassing to say, but sometimes I kick and smash things around or I might hit the person next to me. Many times my husband or close friends suddenly found themselves in an argument with me without even realizing what provoked it. How can I tell them that my body is just looking for a way to release adrenaline without harming itself? Unfortunately, arguing doesn't usually help me. I just feel sad, confused, and I want to hurt myself even more.

Self-harm helps me instantly: thoughts come in order, I calm down, my breathing slows down, my heart beats less often. I can go back to my business, regain control of myself. At least for a while.

How do I calm down

Self-harm is not a healthy way to deal with anxiety. It helps, but not for long. Now this is the last resort for me, the last attempt to gain control when nothing else works. I understand that adrenaline rush is the cause of my reactions, and if I learn to deal with it in a different way, I will be able to calm myself for a longer period and I will have time to heal the emotional breakdown that led to increased anxiety.

I go out for a walk or clean the house, do any physical activity that will help me use up my adrenaline.

I fall out of the outside world

Another precursor to self-harm is dissociation. When dissociated, I have a feeling of my own unreality, then the unreality of the world around me. Time doesn't move the way it usually does for me. I feel either that everything around me is racing very fast, and I am moving at normal speed, or that everything is frozen around me, and I am rushing at great speed, as if someone is rewinding a film. During dissociation, I feel very vulnerable.

It is difficult to explain what dissociation is to a person who has never experienced it. Even if a person has experienced dissociation, his feelings may differ from mine. I know that during dissociation, some people do things that they don't remember afterwards. But, to my misfortune, I remember everything.

I always understand what I am doing, but at the same time I do not realize whether I am behaving reasonably and adequately. My thoughts are in a fog, the brain imagines what is not.

Self-harm not only gives me a sense of reality, but also a sense of time. I'm moving at the speed of the rest of the world again. It gives me back the ability to control my actions. Just like with anxiety, self-harm helps instantly.

Trying to recover

When the dissociation sets in, I deal with the urge to hurt myself in a different way than when the anxiety builds up. At such moments, I need to ease the sense of detachment from the world around me and from myself and feel safe. I take a hot bath or wrap myself in a blanket and curl up on the couch. Or I turn on the music very loudly, so that I begin to almost physically feel it.


Depression also sometimes makes me hurt myself, though not as often. Depression makes me hypersensitive, but while I usually cry a lot for nothing or no reason at all, when I'm deeply depressed, I can't cry at all. Self-harm either gives me a "real" reason to cry, or releases my inner need to cry. When I'm depressed, I become more vulnerable, but it rarely upsets me so much that I begin to harm myself.

When I don't feel anxious or depressed, I don't feel like hurting myself. Other, strange things push me to self-harm: I hear voices, I see something, incomprehensible pictures flash through my memory. When this happens to me, it is very difficult for me to stop, the temptation to hurt myself is very great. Self-harm brings me peace and quiet, instantly.

Whether it's dissociation, anxiety or whatever, I always try to try other ways to get myself together first. I try to wait it out, use the "five minute rule" or other distraction techniques.

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