How Anxiety Can Cause Eye Pain

Young woman that appears to be touching her eye as though she is experiencing some type of pain or discomfort. She is laying on a bed and wearing a blue shirt.

How Anxiety Can Cause Eye Pain

How Anxiety Can Cause Eye Pain 2560 1707 Right Path Counseling

So often we think about mental health conditions – like anxiety – in terms of how they make us feel emotionally and psychologically. We describe them as making us feel nervous, or making us feel fearful, or making us feel sad/stress.

Those emotions and those reactions are all valid. But they also ignore that many mental health conditions, including anxiety, are also largely physical. They create changes within the body that, while temporary, cause similar symptoms to other medical issues and disease.

One example of this is eye pain. It’s unlikely you’ll read much about anxiety-related eye pain in a manual, or see people talk about it as their first symptom. But many people with anxiety do experience various forms of eye pain.

Why And How Could Anxiety Cause Eye Pain?

Eye pain is not directly caused by anxiety, which is why it is not typically listed as a symptom. Instead, it is an effect of other symptoms of anxiety and their effect on the body.

For example, anxiety can cause tension in the muscles in the head. This tension can lead to aches in places like the muscles around the eyes leading to the experience of eye pain.

In addition, anxiety’s effect on the fight of flight system can cause your eyes to not focus as easily on items in front of you. This causes eye strain, which in turn may also cause eye pain.

Anxiety also seems to put pressure on the sinuses, increasing the susceptibility to allergies and other sinus-related issues. Any time your sinus is inflamed or under stress, you can experience pain that transfers to the eyes.

Another issue related to anxiety that can cause eye pain is pupil dilation. Anxiety dilates the pupils as a way to let in more light. But letting in more light makes your eyes more sensitive, which can cause the eyes to experience various types of pain. This is yet another way that anxiety can lead to eye pain.

Chronic Anxiety and Panic Attacks

In addition, anxiety can cause additional issues the longer someone struggles with it. For example, anxiety can cause chronic sleep deprivation. Chronic sleep deprivation is also more likely to not only cause eye pain, but also lead to migraines and headaches (which also cause eye pain).

We still do not fully understand all of the ways that panic disorder and ongoing, chronic anxiety can change the body, but we know they have an effect on hormones, neurotransmitter levels, muscles, and more, and it is likely that there are still yet-unknown ways that anxiety can have an effect on the eyes and eye muscles.

Addressing Anxiety to Feel Better

Most people do not seek out therapy because they’re tired of eye pain. But one of the effects of struggling with eye pain is that it can fuel further anxiety, both because the pain itself causes stress and because those with eye pain may worry about a different underlying cause.

That is why it is so important to recognize how many physical sensations can be affected by anxiety, and also learn more about the many ways that anxiety and its physical symptoms can interact with and contribute to each other. If you feel like you have anxiety, or you’d like to start an anxiety treatment on Long Island, contact Right Path Counseling, today.

Right Path

Right Path Counseling is a team of counselors and therapists on Long Island, each with their unique perspectives and approaches to provide more personal, customized care. We see our role as more diverse than only the therapist and patient relationship, and see people as more than anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. We also offer services for children with ADHD and their parents that are unique to the Long Island area, including parent coaching and executive function disorder coaching. We encourage you to reach out at any time with questions and for support.

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