Why Did My Anxiety Symptoms Return After A StressFul Experience?

Written by Jim Folk
Last updated May 16, 2021

why anxiety symptoms after stressful experience

Why Did My Anxiety Symptoms Return After A Stressful Experience?


Complete Question

After suffering with anxiety disorder for many, many years, which included having most of the symptoms you have at your website, I’m really happy to report that I’m 95% recovered. Rarely do I have a symptom pop up, and I don’t think of anxiety much anymore. It’s like I’ve been set free from the anxiety jail! Thank you so much for that!!

For about two weeks, my family was dealing with an urgent and stressful matter. I thought I handled it well and anxiety didn’t even cross my mind. I know I contained well through it all, so I know anxiety wasn’t a factor. But now that that is all over, I had some symptoms return after a day or so, and rather strongly. This surprised me since I thought I did a really good job of keeping myself calm through that entire situation.

My question is, can just the stress of rushing around and staying up late for many days in a row be enough to stress the body to the point of causing a return of some of my old anxiety symptoms?

Looking back, we were up early each day, our meals were hit and miss (I wasn’t eating as well as I normally do), we were on the go all the time, I didn’t have time for deep relaxation, and we got to bed late each night. Would two weeks of that be enough to cause a return of some symptoms?

I’m not worried about this because I know they are just symptoms of stress and that they’ll go away again in time. But I wanted to know if that type of stress could be enough to cause a return of some of my symptoms? And, will this always be the case or will my body regain its normal resiliency to stress in time?

You guys are a God-send! I talk about you guys all the time and refer anyone I know to you guys for help with anxiety. Thanks for all you do!

Answer

Congratulations on your hard work and success. It’s great to know you found our help beneficial!

Stress takes a toll on the body. The longer the stressful period, the more difficulty the body has in managing the stress load.

As well, the degree of stress also makes a difference. Higher degrees of stress will tax the body harder.

While keeping calm during the stressor can help in offsetting that stress, if you aren’t regularly de-stressing through regular deep relaxation, getting good sleep, taking time away from the stressor, and so on, the physical stress alone can cause the body to become hyperstimulated and symptomatic.

Stress of any kind – physical, psychological, emotional, etc. – will cause the body to produce stress responses. As the frequency of stress responses increases, so does the body’s level of stimulation.

If you aren’t regularly offsetting that stress and stimulation with good stress reduction strategies, it’s just a matter of time until the body becomes overly stressed and symptomatic.

Even though you weren’t anxious about the situation you were dealing with, your body was still experiencing stress. And since you weren’t able to deep relax each day or rest your body sufficiently, your body has experienced the effects of unrelieved stress. Consequently, stress symptoms of any type can appear.

Now that that stressor has passed, it’s just a matter of time until your body settles again. You can increase the speed of recovery by regularly practicing good stress management strategies, such as deep relaxation, regular mild to moderate exercise, having fun, increasing rest and relaxation, and getting good sleep.

Even so, expect that your symptoms will take a while to subside. As you know, the body doesn’t recover from the effects of chronic stress as fast as we’d like. But in time, you should see your body’s stress return to a normal level and your symptoms disappear.

In future, in addition to keeping yourself calm, you may want to build in time during each day for stress reduction strategies, such as making time to deep relax, making sure you get to bed early, make sure to continue to eat regularly and healthy foods, and so on.

When we regularly offset the build-up of stress, we can keep it within a healthy range rather than letting it elevate over time.

I know this can be difficult at times, especially when others are setting our schedule, but through keeping healthy boundaries and maintaining healthy stress management practices, we can keep the toll of stress to a minimum.

Yes, as your body attains 100 percent recovery and stabilizes, you should see your normal resiliency to stress return.

However, once your body has completely recovered from that stress, keep in mind that it doesn’t take long before unrelieved stress can adversely affect the body.

Keeping yourself calm and making regular stress management practices a part of your everyday routine is the best antidote to stress.

Yes, there will be times when circumstances can interfere with our regular routines.

The good news is that even though our stress may elevate at times, and even to the point where symptoms of stress return, we can eliminate them by working our stress reduction strategies and giving the body time to recover. 

Once we’ve attained Level One anxiety disorder recovery, symptoms of stress needn’t be a concern or bother. Since we know what they are, what causes them, and how to get rid of them, there isn’t any reason for concern.

Continue with what you’ve been doing, in consideration of my (Jim Folk) comments above, and you’ll be fine.

Again, congratulations on your success. It’s great to hear you are doing so well!

The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Return to our Anxiety Frequently Asked Questions page.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including Why Did My Anxiety Symptoms Return After A Stressful Experience?