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The Symptoms of Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders


We all experience anxiety. It is there to protect us from getting hurt and it does this through a series of mind and body reflexes and reactions known as the fight-or-flight response. Changes in our heartbeat, breathing and nervous system associated with this response are responsible for a multitude of anxiety symptoms.


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Anxiety Symptoms


The following list is an example of some of the symptoms associated with anxiety. They involve our body, mind and behaviour.


Physical Symptoms:

point Palpitations (Rapid / strong / irregular heartbeat).
point Fast and shallow breathing.
point Trembling and shaking.
point Legs feel like jelly.
point Excessive sweating.
point Blushing.
point Dry throat and difficulty swallowing.
point Dizziness and feeling light-headed.
point Tightness across the chest.
point Nausea.
point Needing the toilet.
point Generally feeling 'on-edge'.     whygo

Anxiety symptoms and preparing for action

Other problems associated with these symptoms may include: constant headaches, insomnia, and various muscle pains due to increased and prolonged tension.



Mental Symptoms:

point Feelings of apprehension and dread.
point Being 'mildly scared' for much of the time.
point Trouble concentrating.
point Starting to worry more.
point Irritability.
point Anger.
point Increased self-consciousness.
point Thoughts about illness.
point Restlessness.


Anxiety-Driven Behaviours:

Anxious behaviour depends on personal beliefs about what is stressful and vary from person to person. However there are some common ones which include:-

point Making excuses to avoid going out or doing things.
point Hurrying out of places or situations where we feel anxious.
point Only going to quiet places where there aren't many people.
point Not saying anything in front of others.
point Sitting near doors and exits or at the back.
point Walking to avoid buses; crossing the street to avoid people.
point Having a drink or taking a tablet before doing something stressful.


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If unresolved, over time, increased anxiety can lead to a number of serious problems and disorders.

These range from physical illness through to debilitating behavioural problems and self-defeating psychological symptoms.



Symptoms Related to Various Anxiety Disorders


Again, just like anxiety symptoms that occur in the moment, symptoms and problems related to anxiety disorders affect our mind, body and behaviour.


Physical Problems Due to Long-Term Anxiety.

These can include:-

point Headaches.
point Digestion problems.
point Bowel problems.
point Allergic reactions.
point Constant fatigue.
point Persistent colds and flu.
point Skin problems.

Many of the above may be due, in part, to the suppression of the body's immune system by chemicals released into the bloodstream when anxious.
(Please note that any recurring physical symptoms such as pains or function problems (eg. digestion, bowel) need to be checked out by a medical doctor as they could be the signs of underlying physical disease).


Behavioural Problems Associated with Anxiety Disorders.

Some examples are:-

point Extreme anxiety and panic around other people.
Having to do things in front of others can cause us to become panic-stricken.
(The main symptom seen in Social phobia / social anxiety disorder).

point Excessive Worrying
Persistant and uncontrollable worrying about people / events / situations.
(GAD, Generalized Anxiety Disorder).

point Avoidance behaviour
Avoiding things and situations that make us feel afraid. (Phobias).

point Obsessions and compulsions
Here, uncontrollable, often horrible thoughts (obsessions) lead to behaviours we feel compelled to do (compulsions) to try and relieve the anxiety over the thoughts. (OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).

point Panicking
Frequent attacks of panic that seem to come 'out of the blue'. (Panic Disorder).

point Hypochondria
Constantly visiting the doctor. Where every ache and pain becomes associated with being a serious illness.

point Depression
Often involves feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, and the belief that events are beyond our control and everything we try to do will fail.

point Sexual problems
Fears over losing control and being judged on performance can maintain these problems.

point Others include:- Aggression, sleep disorders and eating disorders.


Psychological Symptoms Associated with Anxiety Disorders.

These can be seen across the whole range of anxiety disorders, and may include:-

point Perfectionism
Needing to be the strongest, the most beautiful, the cleverest, the most handsome, have the best body, to do the best, to be the best etc.

point Constantly making comparisons
Always comparing ourselves with others and coming up short.

point Excessive self-consciousness
Constantly watching ourselves.

point Child-like thoughts and behaviours
Desperately needing the love and approval of parents and others.

point Fantasising
Common fantasies include: 'one day being rich and famous or great, loved by all'.

point Excessive Tidiness
This represents attempts to bring form and order to our world, to gain a sense of being in control.

point Symmetry
Here, what is done by (happens to) one side of the body must be done by (happen to) the other side. This is also related to order and control.

point Ending sentences with questions
We do this to shift the attention away from us to the other person.

point Mild paranoia
Involves constant feelings of 'being picked on' and that 'others are treated better'.

point Obsessed with body image
Believing our body, or parts of it, are 'not good enough'.

point Poor posture
Standing shoulders down, feet inwards and arms in front of body, trying to be small, almost apologetic for being there.

point Others include:-
Persistent negative thoughts and images, constantly looking back for reasons and answers, and feelings of having no control over our mind or body.


A diagnosis of an anxiety disorder often refers to the main set of symptoms. Yet many people experience a whole range of symptoms associated with various anxiety disorders, adding weight to the belief that these problems are all related.


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Anxiety symptoms can support and confirm each other and strengthen until they become part of the make up of an individual. It's not surprising that when referring to anxiety symptoms and problems we tend to use such phrases as:
"It's just the way I am" and "It's just part of me".


However, such behaviours do make up JUST PART of a person.


Someone who is sad is also at times happy. One who is weak, is occasionally strong. The scared can be brave and unconfident people can sometimes feel confident!

Persistent anxiety symptoms increase the feelings of 'not being good enough in some way' and diminish the good feelings we have about our self. But deep inner feelings of goodness exist in all of us ...


Robert H. Schuller


Mild anxiety symptoms are often related to current life situations that are stressful (eg. relationships, family, work) and may be eradicated by removing the cause of the stress, combined with relaxation (to calm down the nervous system) and exercise (to release pent-up nervous energy).

Stronger, long-term anxiety symptoms and anxiety disorder symptoms often mean something more and can be very difficult to deal with – but many people do become free of these problems. The next section gives some insight into what it takes.

›› The Answer

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More Resources:
Helpguide
webmd.com
MIND (UK)
NHS (UK)


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