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Anxiety Attacks, Disorder, and Panic Attack Symptoms

There are over 100 anxiety, anxiety attack, anxiety disorder, and panic attack symptoms, including:

  • Numbness and tingling
  • Dizziness
  • Chest pain
  • Headaches
  • Neck tension
  • Stomach upset, nervous stomach
  • Pulsing in the ear
  • Burning skin
  • Fear of impending doom
  • Nausea
  • Shortness of breath
  • Electric shock feeling
  • Shooting pains in the face
  • Heart palpitations
  • Weakness in legs
  • Feeling like you are going crazy
  • Inability to rest
  • Sleep problems

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

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is defined as:

  • A state of uneasiness and apprehension, as about future uncertainties.
  • A state of apprehension, uncertainty, and fear resulting from the anticipation of a realistic or fantasized threatening event or situation, often impairing physical and psychological functioning.

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 on this in a moment.

Because imagining the future in an apprehensive manner is a behavior, anxiety is not caused by a biological, chemical, or genetic problem with the brain. Anxiety is a result of a certain style of behavior.

Visit our ‘anxiety’ page for more information about anxiety.

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’). It needs to be noted that 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 more information about anxiety disorder.

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 referred to as anxiety symptoms (often misspelled as anxiety symptons) because behaving apprehensively and the anxiety it causes is the main source of the stress that causes the body to become symptomatic.

Because each person 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 anxiety symptom, whereas another person might have every anxiety symptom and to great severity. All combinations and variations are common.

Play the video below for more information about anxiety symptoms:

Chapter 9 in the member's area of our website is our Symptoms Section. Chapter 9 includes all anxiety symptoms (not just those 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 anxiety symptom is (the percentage of people who experience each symptom).

Are anxiety disorder symptoms different from anxiety symptoms?

No. They 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 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 female menstruation cycle. Many women experience increases in anxiety 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 symptoms can seem more 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 more information, see the symptoms of anxiety 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. Anxiety attacks often occur suddenly and ‘out of the blue.’ Sometimes the cause of an anxiety attack is obvious, such as when you feel in immediate danger with no escape. But at other times, anxiety attacks can seem to occur without reason.

Anxiety attacks 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 and sensations that accompany an anxiety attack can be so strong that just the thought of having another one creates strong anxiety.

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

Panic Attack symptoms include:

  • intense feeling of doom and gloom
  • racing heart
  • lightheadedness
  • heart palpitations
  • sweating
  • nervous stomach
  • trembling
  • feeling like you are about to lose control
  • feeling like you are about to go crazy
  • feeling overwhelmed
  • sudden and strong urge to escape
  • heightened fear and apprehension
  • increased stimulation
  • pins and needles
  • throat tightness
  • muscle weakness
  • weak in the knees
  • super sensitive senses and nerves

To name a few.

For more information about anxiety and panic attacks, visit our Anxiety Attacks / Panic Attacks page.

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.

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:

  • a general feeling of uneasiness
  • persistently being on alert for danger
  • persistent worry
  • an overly cautious approach to life
  • a persistent feeling of being unsafe
  • overly reactive to things that you perceive could be threatening
  • many of the physical, psychological, and emotional symptoms associated with anxiety

Visit our Generalized Anxiety Disorder page for more 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:

  • relentless worry
  • underlying fear
  • an underlying sense of danger
  • inability to self-soothe
  • nervousness
  • agitation
  • sleep issues
  • and many of anxiety’s physiological, psychological, and emotional 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 they 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.

Social anxiety symptoms:

  • nervousness around people who are deemed to be important
  • overly concerned about what people think
  • overly concerned about how people might react
  • hyper sensitive to rejection
  • overly sensitive to criticism
  • overly critical of others
  • and many of anxiety’s physiological, psychological, and emotional 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, and nightmares of this event can be so vivid that they provoke seemingly uncontrollable anxious reactions. Many people who struggle with PTSD feel helpless to eliminate the negative memories, flashbacks, and nightmares and the strong reactions 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:

  • reoccurring memories, flashbacks, and nightmares that seem unstoppable
  • on going anxiety and worry
  • underlying fear and trepidation
  • persistently feeling unsafe and at risk
  • avoiding situations that remind you of the event
  • avoiding situations that are associated with reminders and the event itself
  • overly vigilant in uncertain situations
  • avoiding others
  • a persistent internal struggle
  • and many of anxiety’s physiological, psychological, and emotional symptoms

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

 

Anxiety symptoms listing:

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

Chest (anxiety symptoms with the chest area):

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

Fears (anxiety symptoms associated with fear):

Head: (anxiety symptoms associated with the head)

Hearing / Ear(s): (signs of anxiety commonly associated with hearing and the ears)

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

Mood / Emotions (symptoms of anxiety 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: (signs of anxiety associated with the skin)

Sleep (symptoms of anxiety 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 (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 symptoms of anxiety. This list is not exhaustive.

If you would like more information about anxiety symptoms, including those that aren't listed above - the Symptoms section (Chapter 9) in the member's area includes every anxiety symptom - you may want to become a member and access this invaluable section. This Symptoms section is the most comprehensive symptom resource available today. Click the link below for membership options and access this important information right away:

NOTE: It's wise to discuss all new, changing, persistent, and returning symptoms with your doctor to ensure that they are not being caused by some other medical condition, since there are many medical conditions that can cause anxiety- and stress-like symptoms. If your doctor has attributed your symptoms to stress and anxiety, you can feel confident that your doctor's diagnosis is correct. If you aren't confident in your doctor's assessment, you may want to seek a second and even third opinion. This way, you can feel confident that nothing more serious is causing your symptoms.

Links for additional anxiety disorder and symptoms information

Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada

About anxiety disorder from the National Institute of Mental Health

About anxiety disorder from the Canadian Mental Health Association

Alberta Health Services - Mental health resources

About anxiety from Wikipedia

Anxiety UK Helpline

Anxiety at anxietycentre.com

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

ADAA - DSM-5 changes

ADAA - List of anxiety support groups in Canada, USA, Australia, South Africa.

Anxiety test at anxietycentre.com

Anxiety Attacks at anxietycentre.com

Anxiety Disorders at anxietycentre.com

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

Authors: Jim Folk, Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated October 2014.

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