Symptoms of anxiety

Anxiety can cause a large range of symptoms. Some are more common than others. However, the vast majority of experiences are similar. In this article, I will attempt to outline many of the possible symptoms you may experience.

This is important because often, when you have anxiety, you feel like you are the only person experiencing it. Discovering that many other people have a similar experience can be comforting.

An important note

It is important to note that while this list is primarily compiled from medical evidence, I have also included common self-reported symptoms from people with anxiety.

As they are common, it is likely they are related to anxiety. However, they could also be caused by conditions that correlate with anxiety. Or, it could be caused by something else entirely: while these are all symptoms of anxiety, they can be symptoms of other things, too.

You should always consult your doctor for an in-depth and personalised medical opinion.


Racing heart. You may find that your heart beats faster than usual and that you are more ware of it.

Tight chest. You may experience pain across your chest around where your heart is. It may feel like your heart itself is aching or that a pair of ice cold hands is squeezing your lungs. You may feel like an elephant is sat on your chest.

Difficulty breathing. You may feel like you are struggling to get enough breath into your lungs. That no matter how deeply you breathe, it feels like there is not enough air in there.

Hyperventilation. You may begin to breath faster and faster as you try and take in as much oxygen as possible. You feel you need to do this or simply do it compulsively.

Dizziness. You may feel dizzy or light-headed.

Nausea You may feel sick or that you are going to vomit.

Stomach pains. You may experience an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Irritable bowel. You may feel like you need to go to the toilet more often or make a bowel movement. You may genuinely need to.

Diarrhoea. You may find that your bowel movements come out in a loose or liquid format.

Sweating. You may sweat more than normal, or perhaps even as much as you would when you do strenuous exercise.

Shaking or trembling. This may occur in any part of the body: often it occurs in the hands or arms, but you may also find that you tremble all over.

Warmth. You may feel like you are too hot.

Cold. You may feel like you are too cold.

Dry mouth. You may find that your mouth goes dry. This can include your tongue.

Blushing. You may find that your face goes red or that you cannot stop blushing.

Tingling. You may experience a tingling sensation, especially in your limbs, hands and fingers. You may get pins and needles. Or, you may experience the tingling throughout your body.

Numbness. You may experience a reduction in sensation from your limbs and body.

Joint paint. You may experience pain in different joints, including ankles, knees, wrists and elbows. You can also experience pain in your jaw.

Fatigue. Having anxiety is exhausting. You may find that you become very tired, or even wake up feeling tired. You may feel physically drained.

Weakness. You may feel weaker than usual or that you have no strength in your arms and legs.

Headaches. You may find you are more prone to headaches.

Ringing in your ears. You may experience symptoms of tinnitus, a low-level ringing sound that seems to come from inside of your ears.

Backache. You may experience tension or pain in your back.


Jumpiness. You may find that you are on edge and react to every little noise and action.

Tension. You may feel tense and on-edge. You may find that you are unable to sit still and pace around a lot.

Irritability. You may find that you are more irritable than usual and that you loose your temper easily.

Moving slowly. You may find that you move slower than usual.

Talking slowly. You may find that you talk slower than usual.

Clumsiness. You may find that you are more clumsy and walk into things more often.

Crying. You may find that you cry more than usual, or suddenly feel like breaking into tears for no obvious reason.


There is a huge range of different intrusive thoughts and phobias, so I won't catalogue them all here. This should be considered a non-exhaustive list. However, I will highlight some of the most universal.

Racing thoughts. Your mind keeps runnin,g and you cannot turn it off. Thoughts keep leaping into your brain uninvited. You may feel like your head is going to explode with all the thoughts.

Inability to stop thinking about something. You are unable to shift a thought from your mind. Every time you think about something else, your brain drags up the same thought again.

Feelings of dread. You are constantly thinking that something bad will happen. It may be a specific event, or it may be a general feeling that something will go wrong.

Feelings of loss of control. You may worry that you are going out of your mind or going crazy. That you have no control over your thoughts.

Lack of concentration. You may struggle to concentrate on tasks, especially anything that requires some cognitive processing, such as reading.

Confusion. You may find it difficult to organise your thoughts and that they easily become jumbled.


The range of ways that anxiety can express itself is legion. This list does not cover them all. However, if you have anxiety, it is very likely that you will identify with many of these symptoms. If so, know that you are not alone.


Published 15 May 2017. Written by Chris Worfolk.

Want more content like this?

Subscribe to our newsletter to get more great content emailed to you directly. Plus, we'll send you some chapters from our books for free. We never share your details and you can unsubscribe at any time.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.