Signs and symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety is often triggered by stress in our lives. Some of us are more vulnerable to anxiety than others, but even those who become anxious can easily learn to manage it well. It is a normal reaction to situations that we see as threatening to us. For example, if you had a job interview or had to sit a driving test, it would be likely to feel anxious. Anxiety in some circumstances can even be helpful in some situations; such as when we need to perform well, or manage an emergency.

However, anxiety can also be not helpful because the symptoms of anxiety (whilst not dangerous) can be uncomfortable and frightening. Sometimes people with the symptoms of anxiety worry that they may have
something seriously wrong with them. This concern can then create more symptoms of anxiety which in-turn may increase the stress. The symptoms of anxiety can also become so severe that they can stop people doing what they want/have to do.

Anxiety can affect us in at least four different ways. It can affect:

  • The way we feel.
  • The way we think.
  • The way our body works.
  • The way we behave.

How you feel

  • Anxious, nervous, worried, frightened
  • Feeling, something dreadful is going to happen
  • Tense, stressed, uptight, on edge, unsettled
  • Unreal, strange, woozy, detached
  • Panicky

How you think

  • Constant worrying
  • Can’t concentrate
  • Thoughts racing
  • Mind jumping from one thing to another
  • Imagining the worst and dwelling on it

Common thoughts

  • “I’m losing control”
  • “I’m cracking up”
  • “I’m going to faint”
  • “My legs are going to collapse”
  • “I’m going to have a heart attack”
  • “I’m going to make a fool of myself”
  • “I can’t cope”
  • “I’ve got to get out”

What happens to your body

  • Heart pounds, races, skips a beat
  • Chest feels tight or painful
  • Tingling or numbness in toes or fingers
  • Stomach churning or “butterflies”
  • Having to go to the toilet
  • Feeling jumpy or restless
  • Tense muscles
  • Body aching
  • Sweating
  • Breathing changes
  • Dizzy, light headed

What you do

  • Pace up and down
  • Start jobs and not finish
  • Can’t sit and relax
  • On the go all of the time
  • Talk quickly or more than usual
  • Snappy and irritable behaviour
  • Drinking more
  • Smoke more
  • Eat more (or less)
  • Avoid feared situations

Source: Newcastle, North Tyneside and Northumberland
Mental Health NHS Trust Stress and Anxiety a self help guide


Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

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