Do you find it difficult to look after yourself? Or do you find you cannot try new things or go and meet people? Does it seem like forming or maintaining relationships is beyond you? Has the joy gone out of your leisure time? Or does it seem impossible for you to hold down a job? All of these things might point to you having an issue with anxiety. Sometimes it is not easy to know what we feel or what it means. Anxiety can show itself in many ways. It feels different for everyone. Anxiety symptoms can last for a long time, or come and go. I will give you the most common symptoms of anxiety on this page. You can also go to my Anxiety Quiz and find out, if your level of anxiety is nothing to worry about or if you need to do something. The information here is in line with Mind a UK based mental health organisation.
Symptoms of Anxiety
How symptoms of anxiety show in your body
The first place we are going to look for symptoms of anxiety is in your body. Our bodies never lie and can tell us a lot about how we are and what is going on for us. Have a look at the list below. Do you experience some or many of these symptoms? Or do you have some of these symptoms repeatedly?
- feeling tense, nervous or unable to relax
- feeling restless or unable to sit still
- faster breathing
- a churning feeling in your stomach
- a fast, thumping or irregular heartbeat
- sweating or hot flushes
- nausea (feeling sick)
- needing the toilet more or less often
- problems sleeping
- grinding your teeth, especially at night
- feeling light-headed or dizzy
- pins and needles
- headaches, backache or other aches and pains
- changes in your sex drive
- having panic attacks
What does this mean?
Not all of these symptoms mean that you have anxiety. For example feeling light-headed or dizzy could happen when your blood sugar level is low. Sweating or hot flushes might indicate that your hormones are out of balance and having problems with sleep could be caused by your lifestyle or diet rather than anxiety. However, if you have a lot of these symptoms and regularly there is a fair chance that you might suffer from anxiety. You can do my Anxiety Quiz to find out more.
The most obvious place for symptoms of anxiety - our mind
When we are trying to find out if we are anxious or not, our state of mind is the best indicator. Sometimes we do not realise that we are anxious, or how anxious we are, because the state of mind we are in is so familiar to us. It’s been going on for so long that it seems this is normal. So have a look at the effect that anxiety commonly has on the mind, especially chronic anxiety.
- you can’t stop worrying
- fearing the worst
- having a sense of dread
- you need lots of reassurance from other people
- ruminating a lot – you are thinking over a situation again and again
- feeling like the world is speeding up or slowing down
- being paranoid – you are afraid of other people, or what they might think of you
- feeling like you’re losing touch with reality
- constantly anticipating something bad will happen
- fearing that you will fail in some way
Behaving like this might be a sign of anxiety
The way you behave can also point to underlying anxiety. But just as with your bodily symptoms your behaviours might be about something else. If you combine your knowledge of how you know you behave (and what others might tell you) with the other symptoms above you might get a clearer picture. Commonly there is a good chance that there is anxiety if:
- you need to be in control a lot
- you have a tendency to perfectionism
- there is obsessive behaviour like compulsive cleaning, or constantly checking your emails
- there is addictive behaviour – like eating when you are not hungry, spending hours on social media, working too much
Anxiety is much more definitely the source of your behaviour if:
- you tend to avoid situations that make you feel uneasy
- bursting into tears a lot, or getting angry very quickly
You most certainly have an issue with anxiety, or fear if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms. You are feeling disconnected from your mind or body. You feel like you’re watching someone else at times and it’s not really you. This is a type of dissociation called depersonalisation. Or you are feeling disconnected from the world around you, or like the world isn’t real. This too is a form of dissociation called derealisation. Now, don’t be alarmed! Dissociation is something we all do at times. It is a coping strategy you might have developed, when you felt a need to withdraw (avoid) but could not do this physically. We learn this often in our childhood when there is no alternative to dealing with a frightening situation. This then can become your coping strategy in adulthood even when you have other ways of dealing with the situation. Dissociation is certainly something you might want to explore with a therapist rather than trying to deal with on your own. If you want to find ways to help yourself with anxiety go here.