Signs and symptoms of anxiety

Published July 1, 2013

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People with anxiety usually present with a number of emotional and physical signs and symptoms. The main features of anxiety are fear and worry however this may also be accompanied by:

  1. Physical reactions ‐ Trembling, rapid heartbeat, hot and cold flushes, cold and clammy hands, stomach upset and shortness of breath are common symptoms of anxiety.1 Many of us have experienced these symptoms before a job interview, speaking in front of a roomful of strangers or doing something we have never done before. But for others, this may be a daily struggle.
  2. Sleeping difficulties – Stress and anxiety can often contribute to sleeping difficulties, as a racing mind is not conducive to a restful sleep. Worrying about something that has happened or fearing what will happen, may affect our ability to fall asleep or stay asleep throughout the night.
  3. Fatigue – Fatigue is a common symptom of anxiety1 and may leave sufferers with very little energy to go about their day. With anxiety, our body is in a high‐alert state and uses up a lot of energy, so it is no surprise that it may leave us feeling both physically and mentally drained. The negative effects anxiety may have on our sleeping patterns can also contribute to low energy levels.
  4. Inability to concentrate – Anxiety can often affect our concentration1 because our mind is preoccupied with whatever is causing our symptoms, making it difficult to focus on normal everyday tasks.
  5. Digestive complaints – Anxiety may start in the mind, but it will often manifest in the body. Digestive problems such as diarrhoea1 or medically diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may be triggered by anxiety2. Our digestive function is partly controlled by our nervous system and stress and anxiety may cause problems with bowel movement, motility and sensation.1

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