There are lots of well documented symptoms of anxiety, but there are also many others that aren’t talked about as often. There are lots of people whose anxiety doesn’t present in a ‘typical’ manner and this leaves them in danger of not reaching out for help when they might need it.
If you think you might have anxiety but you’re not sure, have a read through this list to see if any of these symptoms apply to you. If they do, we recommend reaching out to your doctor, a support group or health care provider for support. You can also find a therapist to speak to via our therapist directory.
Symptoms of Anxiety You Might Not Know About
1. Irritability or short temper
It is common for people who are anxious to feel overwhelmed, exhausted or have trouble sleeping. This can in turn lead to irritability. Anxiety can cause irritability because it can cause people to feel overwhelmed and stressed.
This can lead to a short temper and easily-frustrated behavior. Generally speaking, anxiety can feel quite horrible and so someone who is experiencing it might be more irritated or frustrated than usual due to what they’re going through. When you have anxiety, inconveniences can feel unbearable which can lead to irritability or outbursts.
2. Difficulty falling or staying asleep
People with anxiety may find it difficult to relax and fall asleep because of the constant worry and stress that they are feeling as a side effect. They might find it hard to switch off.
You don’t need to be lying awake worrying for anxiety to be disrupting your sleep; not everyone who has difficulty sleeping because of anxiety is lying awake worrying. It’s possible for anxiety to disrupt your sleeping without you actually consciously lying awake worrying about anything.
This is because anxiety during the day can raise your heart rate and stress levels which can make it difficult for you to unwind and switch off in the evening. This in turn can impact your ability to fall or stay asleep therefore affecting your daily life.
On the other hand, anxiety can also lead to oversleeping. Some people may sleep more to try and avoid the anxiety-provoking thoughts and feelings that occur during wakefulness. Others may sleep for longer periods of time in an attempt to catch up on the lost sleep that is often associated with anxiety. Additionally, some people may use oversleeping as a form of self-medication, hoping to ease the symptoms of anxiety through the temporary relief of sleep.
Anxiety can cause people to feel overwhelmed and stressed, which can lead to emotional and physical exhaustion thus requiring more sleep to recover.
4. Diarrhea (or constipation!)
Anxiety can cause digestive problems by interfering with the levels of stress hormones that are circulating in one’s body. An excess of these hormones can interfere with the digestive process and cause nausea, cramps, diarrhea, constipation and other health conditions.
5. Chest pain or dizziness
Anxiety can cause a rapid heart rate. When your heart is beating rapidly, it can put extra stress on your chest and cause pain. Sudden changes in heart rate (which are associated with anxiety) can impact heart rate and blood pressure, which can in turn lead to dizziness as well.
6. Avoiding social situations
People with anxiety may avoid social situations because they feel self-conscious or uncomfortable around others.
They may find it difficult to relax and have fun in a social setting or feel overwhelmed and stressed by the prospect of hanging out with other people. This can lead to a social phobia therefore they may cancel plans, avoid reading or responding to text messages and just generally withdraw from social activity.
7. Experiencing chronic pain
Anxiety may change the way the brain processes pain signals, causing them to be interpreted as being more painful than they would normally be. Mental illnesses like Anxiety can increase the level of stress hormones in the body, which may make pain signals more intense and can diminish the brain’s ability to block the perception of these pain signals, worsening their mental health conditions.
8. Acne or skin flare-ups
The changes that anxiety can bring to the hormones can directly impact the skin. These hormones can stimulate oil production (amongst other things) and so if you notice that your skin flares-up during a particularly stressful time, it’s not in your head.
9. Feeling like you’re constantly fighting off a cold or flu
When you’re feeling anxious, your body is in a state of fight or flight, and this can cause your immune system to become weakened. The impact of this stress and weakened immune system can mean that it’s harder for the body to fight off infection. Anxiety can lead to a feeling of constant fatigue, which can also make it difficult to fight off an infection.
10. Disturbing intrusive thoughts
Ever had a random vision that you did something awful in that moment or that something terrible happened because of you? Well, this is known as an intrusive thought and it is related to anxiety.
Intrusive thoughts can be your brain’s way of thinking of the worst possible scenario that could happen and then putting it to the front of your mind. Anxiety can cause intrusive thoughts because it creates an overall feeling of unease and worry. This can lead to a state of mind where you are more likely to focus on negative thoughts and images.
Everyone can and is affected by some form of anxiety, it’s a natural system our bodies use to keep us safe. However, when these symptoms become too much, we need to deal with them. Here are some other symptoms and ways of dealing with the symptoms we’ve mentioned above.
1. Finding it Hard to Concentrate
Anxiety can make it difficult to concentrate. You may find yourself feeling jumpy or on edge, and your mind may feel like it’s racing. It can be hard to focus on anything else.
Taking a Break
This can be frustrating and make it difficult to get things done. If you’re having trouble concentrating, it may help to take a break and do something calming, like reading or taking a walk.
2. Feeling Restless or On-Edge
If you’re feeling restless or on edge, it’s likely that you’re experiencing anxiety. Anxiety can manifest in many different ways, but one of the most common symptoms is a feeling of unease or agitation. This can make it difficult to concentrate or relax, and can often lead to feeling like you’re on edge all the time.
If you’re struggling with anxiety, it’s important to seek help from a professional. They can help you understand your symptoms and develop a plan to manage them.
If you suffer from anxiety, you may find yourself feeling more irritable than usual. This can be tough to deal with, as it can make everyday tasks feel more difficult.
Managing Your Irritability
However, there are ways to manage your irritability and help ease your anxiety. Try deep breathing exercises, relaxation techniques, or talking to a therapist to help you cope.
4. Chronic Conditions
Anxiety can cause muscle tension, which can lead to pain and discomfort. This can be especially difficult to deal with when it comes to chronic anxiety. Chronic anxiety can cause the muscles to tense up for long periods of time, which can lead to chronic pain.
Dealing with Muscle Tension
High tension can make it difficult to live a normal life and can make it hard to do everyday activities. Try gentle exercise, using your muscles effectively can help you better use them and reduce the tension you feel. Massage and relaxing baths may also help.
5. Difficulty with Sleep
One of the most common symptoms of anxiety is difficulty sleeping. This can manifest as difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or restless, unsatisfying sleep.
Struggling With Sleep
If you’re struggling with anxiety and sleep problems, it’s important to seek help from a mental health professional. As this is a common side effect it’s important to treat the cause.
6. Feeling Drained
Anxiety can be absolutely exhausting. It can zap all of your energy and leave you feeling drained. Symptoms like racing thoughts, hypervigilance, and insomnia can make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep, which can further contribute to fatigue.
If you’re struggling with anxiety, it’s important to take care of yourself and make sure you’re getting enough rest. This may mean making some changes to your lifestyle, such as cutting back on caffeine or avoiding stressful situations. If fatigue is impacting your quality of life, talk to your doctor about treatment options.
7. Struggling to Swallow
If you have anxiety, you may find it difficult to swallow. This can be a symptom of a number of different conditions, including GERD, anxiety disorders, and even some medical conditions.
If you find that you’re having difficulty swallowing, it’s important to see a doctor to rule out any serious conditions.
In the meantime, there are a few things you can do to help ease the symptoms. First, try to relax and take deep breaths.
This will help to ease the tension in your throat and make it easier to swallow. You can also try sipping on warm liquids or eating soft foods. Avoiding spicy or acidic foods can also help, as they can exacerbate the symptoms.
8. Physical Symptoms
Anxiety can often manifest in physical symptoms, like nausea or an upset stomach. This is because when we’re anxious, our bodies go into “fight or flight” mode, which can cause all sorts of physical reactions.
For some people, this can mean feeling nauseous or like they need to vomit. Others may experience an upset stomach, diarrhea, or constipation. While these physical symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable, they’re usually not harmful.
However, if you’re frequently experiencing them, it’s important to talk to a doctor or mental health professional. They can help you manage your anxiety and find ways to cope with the physical symptoms.
9. Shortness of Breath
Anxiety can cause shortness of breath in some people. This is because anxiety can lead to hyperventilation, which means you take in more oxygen than you need. This can cause you to feel lightheaded and dizzy, and can also cause shortness of breath.
If you’re feeling anxious, try to focus on your breathing and slow it down. This can help to ease your anxiety and improve your shortness of breath.
Anxiety can cause sweating as a physical response to stress. When we experience anxiety, our body goes into fight-or-flight mode and releases stress hormones like cortisol.
These hormones can cause sweating as a way to cool down the body. Sweating can also be a symptom of anxiety itself. If you find that you are sweating more than usual, it could be a sign that you are experiencing anxiety.
11. Shakes or Trembling
Anxiety can cause your body to shake or tremble. This is usually a result of your body’s fight-or-flight response being activated. When your anxiety is triggered, your body releases adrenaline and other stress hormones.
A Hormonal Response
These hormones can cause your muscles to tense up and your heart to race. All of this can lead to shaking or trembling.
12. Lightheadedness or Dizziness
Anxiety can sometimes cause lightheadedness or dizziness. This may be due to hyperventilation, which is when you breathe too fast and your body doesn’t get enough oxygen.
Dealing with This
If you’re feeling lightheaded or dizzy, try to focus on your breathing and slow it down. You can also try to relax your muscles and close your eyes. If these things don’t help, it’s best to see a doctor to rule out any other potential causes.
13. Physical Sensations
Anxiety can sometimes manifest in physical sensations, like choking or smothering. This can be extremely frightening, and can make it feel like you can’t breathe. This can often be described as a panic attack.
Dealing with This Sensation
If you experience this, it’s important to remember that it’s just a symptom of anxiety, and that you can’t actually be harmed by it. Try to focus on your breathing and relax as much as possible. This sensation will eventually pass.
14. Increase Heart Rate
When you experience anxiety, your heart rate may increase or you may experience heart palpitations. This is because anxiety causes your body to release stress hormones like adrenaline, which can cause your heart to beat faster. While this may be uncomfortable, it is usually not harmful and will go away once the anxiety subsides. If you are concerned about your heart rate or palpitations, please consult with a medical professional.
15. Feeling Like You’re Losing Control
One of the most common fears associated with anxiety is the fear of losing control or “going crazy.” This can be a very frightening prospect, as it can feel like you are losing your grip on reality. This fear can often be compounded by worries about what others will think of you if they see you lose control.
However, it is important to remember that everyone experiences anxiety in different ways and that there is no shame in seeking help to manage your anxiety. If you feel like you are losing control, reach out to a trusted friend or family member, or seek professional help.
16. Fearing Dying
The fear of dying is one of the most common fears that people experience. It can be caused by a variety of things, including a traumatic life event, a health scare, or simply a general feeling of unease.
This fear can lead to a number of different problems, including anxiety, depression, and even physical health problems. If you’re dealing with a fear of dying, it’s important to seek help from a professional so that you can learn how to cope with this fear and live a full and happy life.
When To Reach Out For Help
It’s important to understand your body and the ways it deals with stress. If you’re feeling these symptoms and you’re struggling to handle them it may be time to reach out for help. Everyone experiences anxiety, but when it starts to have a larger impact on your life its important to find support. If you’re looking for more information view our How Does Therapy Work page.