What are the Symptoms of Anxiety?

There are three ways anxiety can manifest itself: Physical Sensations, Psychological Effects and Behavioural Reactions. Anxiety feels different to everyone and the intensity may vary on each occasion but if you are feeling anxious, you will generally experience some, but not necessarily all, of the following:

Physical Sensations

  • Cardiovascular, i.e. increased heartbeat, chest pain, palpitations, blushing

  • Respiratory, i.e. hyperventilation and shortness of breath

  • Neurological, i.e. headaches, lightheadedness, dizziness, sweating, tingling and numbness

  • Gastrointestinal, i.e. dry mouth, nausea, stomach cramps, vomiting, diarrhoea

  • Musculoskeletal, i.e. muscle aches and pains, restlessness, shaking and tremors

Psychological Effects

  • Unrealistic and/or excessive fear, a sense of dread and fear the worst

  • Nervousness, restlessness, worry, feeling on edge

  • Decreased concentration and memory

  • Difficulty making decisions and/or overthinking

  • Mind racing and/or going blank

  • Feeling tense, nervous or unable to relax

  • Confusion, irritability, impatience, anger

  • Tiredness, difficulty falling asleep, sleep disturbances, vivid dreams

  • Unwanted and/or unpleasant repetitive thoughts

  • Needing the toilet more or less often

  • Feeling like the world around you is speeding up or slowing down

  • Feeling judged, thinking other people can “see” your anxiety

Behavioural Reactions

  • Avoidance of situations including school or work

  • Repetitive compulsive behaviour

  • Distress in social situations

  • Urges to escape situations

  • Becoming needy or clingy, or avoiding people all together

  • Avoid forming or maintaining relationships

  • Neglecting ourselves and our hygiene

I can remember one of my first anxiety attacks and I thought I was dying. So many sensations flooded my body and my mind, I felt out of control and terrified.
The truth is that we won't die from a panic attack, but it is an extremely scary and unpleasant feeling. We can often feel that no one else can understand how it feels, and that is true because it is different for everyone.

If you find yourself in this situation, recognise where you are. Are you in danger at that very moment? The chances are, you feel fearful and scared and your body has flooded you with adrenaline to help you escape the situation, but the reality is you may be in your own home, a shopping centre or your place of work. There are likely people around you that would help you if you need them to.

If you come across someone having an anxiety attack, remind them they are in a safe place. Tell them you will stay with them until it passes, this is usually no more than 15 minutes, however, it can feel like hours when it is happening to you.

Count their breathing with them, and try and get them to slow their breathing down. When hyperventilating, it is common to feel that you can not fill your lungs with air, but the opposite is often true and we are not breathing out enough, so our lungs don’t have the extra capacity for a deep breath. We take short sharp breaths, but we need to take deep slow breaths instead. This signals to our bodies that we are safe and the panic is over. 

I am not medically trained so will caveat the above by saying that sometimes it might be difficult to work out whether your symptoms are totally related to anxiety, or might be related to a different illness. If you're experiencing any physical symptoms it's best to talk to your GP, so they can check out what may be causing them. 

If anxiety is something you or your loved ones struggle with regularly, then please get in touch to discuss how I can help you. You can book a FREE 45 minute discovery call here