Anxiety Symptoms (including Anxiety Attacks, Disorder, and Panic Signs and Symptoms)

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There are over 100 anxiety symptoms and signs for anxiety, anxiety attacks (panic attacks), and other anxiety disorders including symptoms:

There are a great many more anxiety symptoms. For a comprehensive anxiety symptoms list with descriptions, including severe anxiety symptoms, see below.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is defined as:

In other words, anxiety occurs when we behave (think and act) in an apprehensive manner, such as when worrying about an event or situation.

With this in mind, anxiety is not a force or 'thing' in itself. It’s a state of uneasiness that results when we worry. More about this in a moment.

Because imagining the future in an apprehensive manner is a behavior, it's not caused by a biological, chemical, or genetic problem with the brain. Anxiety results from a certain style of behavior.

Visit our ‘anxiety’ page for additional information.

What is anxiety disorder?

Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time. This is normal. This is why anxiety is not a medical, biological, chemical, or genetic problem.

Anxiety turns into a “disorder” – disruption to normal functioning - when anxiety and its sensations and symptoms interfere with a normal lifestyle.

It’s important to keep in mind that anxiety disorder should NOT be equated with a medical condition or serious mental illness (when there is a medical, biological, chemical, or genetic cause). Unfortunately, the term ‘mental illness’ is used to refer to any problem caused by behaving in an abnormal way (what is considered to be outside of the ‘norm’). All of us have behaviors that fall outside of the ‘norm’, which is why all of us could be categorized as having some type of ‘mental illness.’

While you may have or have been diagnosed as having anxiety disorder, this means you have overly anxious behaviors (tendencies). It doesn’t mean you are somehow mentally deficient or have something medically, biologically, chemically, or genetically wrong.

Visit our ‘anxiety disorder’ page for additional information.

If anxiety disorder isn’t a medical, biological, chemical, or genetic problem, why does anxiety cause symptoms? That’s next.

What are anxiety symptoms?

Behaving in an overly apprehensive manner creates the physiological, psychological, and emotional state of anxiety. Anxiety activates the stress response, which stresses the body. A body that becomes overly stressed can exhibit symptoms of stress.

So anxiety symptoms are actually symptoms of stress. They are called anxiety symptoms because behaving apprehensively is the main source of the stress that causes the body to exhibit symptoms.

Because each body is somewhat chemically unique, the type, number, intensity, duration, and frequency of anxiety symptoms will vary from person to person. For example, one person might have just one mild or a few anxiety symptoms, whereas another person might have all anxiety symptoms and to great severity. All combinations and variations are common.

Play the video below for information about symptoms:

Chapter 9 in the member's area of our website is our anxiety Symptoms Section. Chapter 9 includes all symptoms (not just the symptoms listed below), including in depth descriptions about how each symptom feels, what causes it, what you can do to eliminate it, and how prevalent each symptom is (the percentage of people who experience each symptom).

Are anxiety disorder symptoms different from anxiety symptoms?

No. Anxiety disorder symptoms and anxiety symptoms are the same. The only difference between the two would be, as anxiety and its persistence increases, so will the number, type, intensity, frequency, and duration of anxiety symptoms increase. Otherwise, they are one and the same.

Anxiety symptoms in women and men

The majority of anxiety symptoms in women and men are similar, but there are some anxiety symptoms differences.

For example, anxiety causes stress hormones to enter the bloodstream where they travel to targeted spots in the body to bring about specific emergency response changes. These changes prepare the body for immediate action.

Since stress hormones affect other hormones, women can experience a wide range of sensations and symptoms due to how stress hormones affect the hormones that affect the female menstruation cycle. Many women experience increases in anxiety related symptoms in association with their monthly cycle.

Women can also experience an increase in symptoms due to the biological changes of pregnancy, postpartum recovery, and menopause.

Women are also more emotionally-centered than men, so their anxiety symptoms can seem more numerous and daunting.

Men also have challenges, as stress hormones also affect male hormones. Men who are more emotionally-centered can also struggle more with anxiety symptoms.

For additional information, see our anxiety symptoms list below.

Types of anxiety and symptoms

Problematic anxiety can be experienced in a number of ways. This is why there are specific types within the Anxiety Disorder classification. But just because there are different types of anxiety disorder doesn’t mean problematic anxiety has a number of different causes. The cause is the same – behavior. But some people struggle more in one area than in others.

Below are the most common types of anxiety disorder.

Panic Attack Disorder (PAD) - which is the same as Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety attacks, also referred to as panic attacks, are episodes of high intensity fear and anxiety. Panic attacks often occur suddenly and ‘out of the blue.’ Sometimes the cause of a panic attack is obvious, such as when you feel in immediate danger with no escape. But at other times, panic attacks can seem to occur without reason.

Panic attacks and their symptoms can last from just a few moments to hours. During the attack, most people feel an incredible amount of fear, trepidation, and foreboding, which is often accompanied by a strong urge to escape, a feeling that you are about to lose control, and for many, that they may even die.

The feelings, sensations, and symptoms that accompany a panic attack can be so strong that just the thought of having another one creates strong anxiety.

There is no question, panic attacks can be strong physiological, psychological, and emotional experiences, which is why many people fear them.

Panic Attack symptoms include:

To name a few symptoms.

You can visit our anxiety attacks and panic attacks pages for additional information.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

All of us are anxious from time to time. And many of us have some things we worry about. People who experience generalized anxiety, however, worry about many things, frequently, and to a great degree. Years ago, people who experienced generalized anxiety disorder were said to be ‘worrywarts.’

Generalized anxiety disorder doesn’t mean your anxiety is worse than other types, but that you worry about more things and more often.

Generalized anxiety disorder also doesn’t mean there is something medically, biologically, chemically, or genetically wrong. It means you haven’t learned healthy ways of dealing with adversity, uncertainty, and risk. So, you worry!

Generalized anxiety symptoms:

Plus many more symptoms.

Visit our Generalized Anxiety Disorder page for additional information.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive compulsive disorder is described as having unwanted thoughts and actions that seem difficult to impossible to stop. While many people worry, those who experience obsessive compulsive disorder feel they can’t stop worrying, or if they do, something bad will happen.

Obsessive compulsive disorder doesn’t mean you have something medically, biologically, chemically, or genetically wrong, but that you haven’t learned to make yourself feel safe ‘on the inside.’  As a result, you worry or perform rituals to try and make yourself feel safe.

An example of this is thinking that if you do a certain ritual enough times, you’ll be safe. Common rituals include touching things enough times, counting things enough times, and doing things enough times and to the point of where you ‘feel’ everything is going to be okay.

Coping styles are learned. OCD is an example of an unhealthy coping style.

OCD symptoms:

And many more symptoms.

Visit our Obsessive Compulsive Disorder page for more information.

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)

Social Anxiety Disorder is described as being overly anxious in social situations. It’s not that social anxiety disorder sufferers are afraid of people, but of what people might think of them and/or how those people might react. Fear of rejection is a major concern for the socially anxious.

Socially anxious people generally struggle with self-esteem and self-worth issues. Social phobia is another term often used to describe social anxiety.

SAD symptoms:

There are many more symptoms.

Visit our Social Anxiety Disorder page for more information.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is characterized as having strong anxious and distressing reactions to a past traumatic event. The memories, flashbacks, nightmares, and night terrors of the event can be so vivid that they provoke seemingly uncontrollable anxious reactions and symptoms. Many people who struggle with PTSD feel helpless to eliminate the negative memories, flashbacks, nightmares, and night terrors and the strong reactions and symptoms that accompany them.

Some people say that having PTSD is similar to having panic attacks 24/7 and feeling there is nothing you can do to stop them.

PTSD symptoms:

Plus many more symptoms.

For more information, visit our Post Traumatic Stress Disorder page.

Phobias

Everyone is afraid of something. Phobias, however, are extreme fears that seem unusually strong and encompassing. A fear of heights, small spaces, dogs, snakes, spiders, being trapped with no exists, and flying are common phobias.

Phobia symptoms:

There are many more symptoms associated with phobias.

Visit our Phobias page for more information.

Anxiety treatment

There are many anxiety treatment options. The most effective treatment for anxiety disorder is the combination of good self-help information, support, and personal coaching/therapy by coaches/therapists who have personally experienced and have successfully overcome anxiety disorder and anxiety symptoms in their own lives.

Having personally experienced and successfully overcome anxiety disorder and anxiety symptoms means not only do they understand your struggle and how anxiety symptoms feel and can impact a person’s life but that they also know how to successfully overcome anxiety unwellness and its symptoms. This personal experience is a valuable asset in the anxiety disorder recovery process, including eliminating symptoms.

Visit our Personal Coaching page for more information about how our coaching/therapy option works and the many coaches/therapists available.

Did you know that eliminating anxiety symptoms is not all there is to overcoming anxiety disorder? Click here for more information about the Two Levels of Anxiety Disorder Recovery.

For more information about anxiety, its symptoms, and its treatment, see our 'Anxiety 101' section.

Anxiety symptoms listing:

Anxiety, no matter the type, affects the body the same way. As a result, the following anxiety symptoms can occur with any type of anxiety disorder. The type, number, intensity, duration, and frequency of anxiety symptoms is generally determined by the degree of anxiety experienced.

Medical Advisory
Because there are many medical conditions that can cause anxiety-like sensations and symptoms, we recommend that all new, changing, persistent, and returning symptoms be discussed with your doctor. If your doctor concludes that your sensations and symptoms are solely stress related (including anxiety-caused stress), you can be confident that there isn't another medical reason for your symptoms. Generally, most doctors can easily tell the difference between stress- and anxiety-caused sensations and symptoms from symptoms caused by other medical conditions.

If you are uncertain about your doctor’s diagnosis, however, you may want to seek a second and even third opinion. But if all three opinions concur, you can be assured that stress (including the stress that being overly anxious can cause) is the cause of your sensations and symptoms and not some other medical or biological problem.


For information about anxiety symptoms, click on any of the anxiety symptoms links below where available.

Body (anxiety symptoms associated with the body in general):

Chest (anxiety symptoms associated with the chest area):

  • Asthma symptoms and attacks
  • Chest tremors, trembling in the chest, chest feels like it is vibrating
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Esophageal spasms
  • Feel like you have to force yourself to breath
  • Find it hard to breath, feeling smothered, shortness of breath
  • Frequent yawning to try and catch your breath
  • Rib or rib cage tightness, pressure, or feeling like a tight band around the rib cage
  • Sudden shooting pains in the chest; sharp stabbing pains in the chest
  • Tightness, pressue, fullness, pain in the chest

For more information about each of the chest symptoms listed above, click here for the anxiety symptoms chest page.

Emotions (see mood - anxiety symptoms associated with emotions, mood, and feelings)

Fears (anxiety symptoms associated with fear):

  • A heightened fear of what people think of you
  • Afraid of being trapped in a place with no exits
  • Constant feeling of being overwhelmed.
  • Fear of being in public
  • Fear of dying
  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of impending doom
  • Fear of making mistakes or making a fool of yourself to others
  • Fear of passing out
  • Fear that you are losing your mind
  • Fears about irrational things, objects, circumstances, or situations
  • Fears of going crazy, of dying, of impending doom, of normal things, unusual feelings and emotions, unusually frightening thoughts or feelings
  • Feeling afraid all the time
  • Heightened self awareness, or self-consciousness
  • Need to find nearest washrooms before you can feel comfortable
  • Need to seat near exits

For more information about each of the fears listed above, click here for the anxiety symptoms fears page.

Head: (anxiety symptoms associated with the head)

  • Anxiety headaches, migraines
  • Brain fog
  • Burning, itchy, tight scalp
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Frequent headaches, migraine headaches
  • Feeling like there is a tight band around your head, pressure, tightness
  • Hair loss, hair is thinning, or clumps of hair are falling out
  • Head, neck or shoulder pain, tightness/stiffness
  • Head zaps, head tremors
  • Giddiness
  • Numbness
  • Numbness tingling, numbness and tingling
  • Shooting pains, stabbing pains, and odd pressures in the neck, head, or face
  • Shooting pains in the face
  • Shooting pains in the scalp or head
  • When you close your eyes you feel like are beginning to, or will, float upwards
  • Sore jaw that feels like a tooth ache
  • TMJ (Temporo-Mandibular Joint) - clenching of the jaw or grinding of the teeth

For more information about each of the head symptoms listed above, click here for the anxiety symptoms head page.

Hearing / Ear(s): (anxiety symptoms associated with hearing and the ears)

Heart (anxiety symptoms heart related)

For more information about each of the heart anxiety symptoms listed above, click here for the anxiety symptoms heart page.

You can find out if you are having a heart attack or anxiety attack (panic attack)

Mind (anxiety symptoms associated with the mind and thinking):

  • Afraid of everything
  • Altered state of reality, consciousness, or universe feeling
  • Brain Fog
  • Deja Vu, a feeling like you've done or experienced something before
  • Depersonalization
  • Derealization
  • Desensitization
  • Difficulty concentrating, short-term memory loss
  • Difficulty thinking, speaking, forming thoughts, following conversations
  • Disorientation
  • Fear of going crazy
  • Fear of losing control
  • Fear of impending doom
  • Feelings of unreality
  • Frequent feeling of being overwhelmed, or that there is just too much to handle or do
  • Having difficulty concentrating
  • Nightmares, bad dreams
  • Obsession about sensations or getting better
  • Repetitive thinking or incessant ‘mind chatter’
  • Short-term learning impairment, have a hard time learning new information
  • Short-term memory impairment, can't remember what I did a few days, hours, or moments ago
  • Spaced out feelings, feeling spaced out
  • "Stuck" thoughts; thoughts, mental images, concepts, songs, or melodies that "stick" in your mind and replay over and over again.
  • Trapped in your mind feeling
  • Underlying anxiety, apprehension, or fear
  • You often feel you are carrying the world on your shoulders

For more information about each of the mind symptoms listed above, click here for the anxiety symptoms mind page.

Mood / Emotions (anxiety symptoms associated with mood, emotions, and feelings):

  • Always feeling angry and lack of patience
  • Depersonalization
  • Depression
  • Dramatic mood swings (emotional flipping)
  • Emotionally blunted, flat, or numb
  • Emotional "flipping" (dramatic mood swings)
  • Emotions feel wrong
  • Everything is scary, frightening
  • Feeling down in the dumps
  • Feeling like things are unreal or dreamlike
  • Frequently being on edge or 'grouchy'
  • Feel like crying for no apparent reason
  • Have no feelings about things you used to
  • Not feeling like yourself, detached from loved ones, emotionally numb
  • Underlying anxiety, apprehension, or fear
  • You feel like you are under pressure all the time

Mouth / Stomach (anxiety symptoms associated with the mouth and stomach):

Skin: (anxiety symptoms associated with the skin)

Sleep (anxiety symptoms associated with sleep and sleep problems):

  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Frequent bad, bizarre, or crazy dreams
  • Hearing sounds in your head that jolt you awake
  • Insomnia, or waking up ill in the middle of the night
  • Jolting awake
  • Waking up in a panic attack
  • You feel worse in the mornings

Sight (anxiety symptoms associated with the eyes and sight):

Touch (anxiety symptoms associated with the sense of touch):

Other anxiety symptoms are often described as: Being like a hypochondriac, muscle twinges, worry all the time, tingles, gagging, tightness in the chest, tongue twitches, shaky, breath lump, heart beat problems, head tingles, itchy tingling in arms and legs, and so many more.

In addition, you might also find yourself worrying compulsively about:
• Having a heart attack
• Having a serious undetected illness
• Dying prematurely
• Going insane or losing your mind
• Suddenly snapping
• Losing it
• Uncontrollably harming yourself or someone you love
• Losing control of your thoughts and actions
• Being embarrassed or making a fool out of yourself
• Losing control
• Fainting in public
• Not breathing properly
• Losing control of reality
• Choking or suffocating
• Being alone

These are some of the more common anxiety symptoms. This symptoms list is not exhaustive.

If you would like more in depth information about anxiety symptoms, including those symptoms that aren't listed above - the Symptoms section (Chapter 9) in the Recovery Support area of our website includes every anxiety symptom. This Anxiety Symptoms section is the most comprehensive symptoms resource available anywhere today. Click here for more information about our Recovery Support area, including membership options.

References and Resources

National Institute of Mental Health - general information

Canadian Mental Health Association - general information

American Psychiatric Association - general disorder information

American Psychological Association - general information

Anxiety UK Helpline - helpline in the UK

Free tests at anxietycentre.com - free anxiety, depression, and stress tests at anxietycentre.com


Authors: Jim Folk, Marilyn Folk, BScN. Last updated March, 2015.

Anxiety symptoms can range in type, number, intensity, frequency, and duration with each person having a unique experience with anxiety symptoms.