What Are the Symptoms of Anxiety?

February 11, 2019


Everyone gets nervous or anxious from time to time, when they talk in public or when they have financial or family difficulties. For some people, however, anxiety becomes so frequent or so strong that life is deeply affected. How can you tell when anxiety becomes a disorder? It’s not easy. Anxiety comes in several forms – such as panic attacks, phobias and social anxiety – and the distinction between an official diagnosis and “normal” anxiety is not always clear. Here is a first step: If you have any of the following symptoms regularly, you may want to talk to your doctor.

Excessive care

The distinctive sign of the generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) – the broadest type of anxiety – is too much concern for everyday, big and small things. But what does “too much” mean? In this case, it means that you have persistent anxious thoughts in most days of the week for six months. Anxiety also has to be so bad that it interferes with everyday life and is accompanied by visible symptoms such as fatigue. The distinction between anxiety disorder and normal anxiety is when emotions produce much suffering and dysfunction, says Sally Winston, Ph.D. in Psychology.

Sleep problems

The fact that you can’t fall asleep and you don’t have a good night’s sleep is associated with many health, physical and psychological disorders. And, of course, it is not uncommon to sleep worse off the night before a speech or job interview. If constantly instead of sleeping, staying awake, worried or agitated – about specific issues (such as money) or nothing in particular – could be a sign of anxiety disorder. By some estimates, half of people with anxiety have trouble sleeping. If you wake up feeling strange, your mind goes crazy and you can not calm yourself, anxiety may be involved.

Irrational fears

Anxiety is not generalized at all. On the contrary, it is attached to a particular situation or thing, such as flight, animals or crowd. If fear becomes overwhelming, disruptive and inappropriate in relation to the risk involved, it is a sign of phobia, a type of anxiety disorder. Although phobias can be terrible, they are not obvious at all times. In fact, they may not be discovered until you are confronted with a particular situation and you realize that you are not able to overcome your fears.

Muscle tension

The almost constant muscle tension often accompanies anxiety disorders. This symptom can be so persistent that people who have lived with him for a long time may not notice it after a while. Regular exercise can help keep muscle tension under control, but tension can increase if an unforeseen event disrupts a man’s workout habits, says Winston.

Digestive problems

Anxiety can start in the mind, but it often manifests itself in the body through physical symptoms such as chronic digestive problems. Irritable bowel syndrome, a condition characterized by stomach pain, cramps, bloating, gas, constipation and / or diarrhea, “is basically an anxiety in the digestive tract,” says Winston. It’s not always related to anxiety, but the two often meet together and can do harm. The stomach is very sensitive to psychological stress – and, conversely, the physical and social discomfort of chronic digestive problems can make a person feel more worried.

Stage emotions

Most people have a few butterflies in the stomach before addressing a group of people or being in the limelight. But if fear is so strong that courses or practice will not alleviate it, or if you spend a lot of time thinking and worrying, you may have a form of social anxiety disorder (also known as social phobia). People with social anxiety tend to worry days or weeks before a particular event or situation. And if they manage to get through it, they do not feel comfortable and they can think of the event long afterwards, wondering how they were judged.


The social anxiety disorder does not always involve talking to the public or being the focus of attention. In most cases, anxiety is caused by day-to-day situations, such as having a personal conversation at a party, or eating and drinking in front of a small number of people. In these situations, people with social anxiety disorder tend to feel with all their eyes, and most often face redness, trembling, nausea, deep sweating or difficulty speaking. These symptoms can be so disturbing that they make it difficult to meet new people, maintain relationships, and advance to work or school.


Panic attacks can be terrifying: Imagine suddenly a sense of fear and helplessness, which can take a few minutes accompanied by scary physical symptoms such as breathing problems, heart beating hard, painful or numb hands, sweating, weakness or dizziness, chest pain, stomach pain and cold or hot sensation. Not everyone who has a panic attack has an anxiety disorder, but people who experience them repeatedly can be diagnosed with panic disorder. People with panic disorder live with fear of when, where and why the next attack can happen and tend to avoid where they have had attacks in the past.


The resumption of a disturbing or traumatic event – a violent encounter, the sudden death of a boyfriend – is a distinctive sign of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which has some common features with anxiety disorder. (Until recently, PTSD was, in fact, looked more like a type of anxiety disorder than an autonomous condition.) But flashbacks can also occur in other types of anxiety. Some research, including a 2006 study published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, suggests that some people with social anxiety have PTSD type reactions, such as experiences that may not seem obviously traumatic, such as public ridicule. These people can even avoid memories of the experience – another symptom that reminds of PTSD.


Perfectionism goes hand in hand with anxiety disorders, says Winston. “If you are judging steadily or if you have a great deal of anticipation about mistakes or lack of standards, you probably have an anxiety disorder.” Perfectionism is especially common in obsessive-compulsive disorder, which, like PTSD, has long been seen as an anxiety disorder. “OCD can happen subtly, as someone who can not get out of the house for three hours because makeup has to be absolutely right and has to take it from the beginning,” says Winston.

Compulsive behaviors

To be diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder, a person’s obsession and intrusive thoughts must be accompanied by compulsive behavior, whether mental (you say it will be well repeatedly and repeatedly) or physically (manual wash, alignment objects). Obsessive thinking and compulsive behavior become a distressing disorder when the need to complete behaviors – also known as “rituals” – begins to lead your life, says Winston. “If you like your radio at volume 3, for example and it’s blocking at 4, would you be in full panic until you can fix it?”


The persistence of self-doubt is a common feature of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder. In some cases, doubt can arise around a question that is essential to a person’s identity, such as “If I’m Gay?” or “Do I love my husband as much as he loves me?” Winston states that these “doubts” are particularly common when a question can not be resolved. People with obsessive compulsive disorder “think” if I knew 100% sure if I were gay or not, anyway, “but they have this intolerance to uncertainty that turns the question into an obsession,” says Winston

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