Anxiety Symptoms Medical Advisory

Last updated March 27, 2021

Anxiety symptoms are symptoms of stress

Anxiety symptoms are symptoms of stress. They are called anxiety symptoms because anxious behavior activates the stress response (also known as the fight or flight response).[1][2]

The stress response causes numerous body-wide changes that enhance our ability to deal with a threat.[3][4] These body-wide changes stress the body. A body that's under stress can exhibit symptoms of stress.

For more information, visit our “Anxiety Symptoms” and “Stress Response” articles.

Discuss your symptoms with your doctor

Because there are many medical conditions and medications that can cause stress-like symptoms, we recommend all new, changing, persistent, and returning symptoms be discussed with your doctor.

If your doctor concludes your symptoms are solely attributed to stress, including anxiety-caused stress, you can be confident there isn't a medical cause.

Generally, doctors can easily determine the difference between stress- and anxiety-caused symptoms from those caused by a medical condition or the side effects of medication.

Doctors aren’t infallible, however. If you are uncertain about your doctor’s diagnosis, you may want to seek a second or more opinions. If all opinions agree, however, you can be confident there isn’t a medical or medication reason for your symptoms.

Anxiety and its symptoms can aggravate pre-existing medical conditions

Anxiety and stress can aggravate pre-existing medical conditions and their symptoms. This is another reason to discuss your anxiety and its symptoms with your doctor for complete medical care.

Not all doctors are equal

Just as there are personality differences among doctors, there are also differing levels of knowledge and approaches. For optimum anxiety disorder care, it’s best to work with a doctor who understands anxiety and the association between anxiety and stress.

Working with a knowledgeable doctor can make a significant difference in your anxiety disorder recovery.

The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Return to our anxiety disorders signs and symptoms page. Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including Anxiety Symptoms Medical Advisory.


1. Selye, H. (1956). The stress of life. New York, NY, US: McGraw-Hill.

2. Folk, Jim and Folk, Marilyn. “The Stress Response And Anxiety Symptoms.”, August 2019.

3. "The Physiology of Stress: Cortisol and the Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Axis." DUJS Online. N.p., 03 Feb. 2011. Web. 19 May 2016.

4. Yaribeygi, Habib, et al. “The Impact of Stress on Body Function: A Review.” EXCLI Journal, Leibniz Research Centre for Working Environment and Human Factors, 2017.