What is an Overactive Nervous System?
| 3 min read
Amy Barczy is a brand journalist at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and writes for AHealthierMichigan.org and MIBluesPerspectives.com. Prior to joining Blue Cross, she was a statewide news reporter for MLive.com. She has a decade of storytelling experience in local news media markets including Lansing, Grand Rapids, Holland, Ann Arbor and Port Huron.
What is the sympathetic nervous system?
- Pupils in the eyes will widen to improve vision
- Heart rate will increase
- Airway muscles will relax to allow more oxygen to the lungs
- Digestion will slow as energy is directed to other parts of the body
- Energy stores from the liver will be activated for quick use
What is the parasympathetic nervous system?
What conditions affect the sympathetic nervous system?
- Type 2 diabetes
- Anxiety disorders and chronic stress
- Genetic conditions like amyloidosis
- Horner’s syndrome
- Multiple system atrophy
- Sexual dysfunction
Can the nervous system be overactive?
- Physical symptoms, including weight gain, body aches and pains, chest pain, diarrhea or constipation, nausea, dizziness and weak immunity
- Behavioral symptoms, including eating more or less, changes in sleep patterns, nervous habits, isolating yourself, relying on substances to relax, avoiding responsibilities
- Cognitive symptoms, including memory problems, inability to concentrate, poor judgement, increased negativity and anxious thoughts
- Emotional symptoms, including moodiness, irritability, short temper, agitation, inability to relax, overwhelm, feeling isolated, depressed or unhappy
Ways to protect the sympathetic nervous system
- Eat a balanced diet complete with whole grains, healthy fats, proteins and fresh produce and drink the recommended amount of water each day
- Avoid abusing substances, including drugs and alcohol that can damage the sympathetic nervous system
- Stay physically active and maintain a healthy weight
- Wear safety equipment as needed while at work or at play to prevent damage from injuries
- Manage chronic conditions