Anxiety is a mental, emotional, and physical condition. Anyone that has anxiety or know someone that has struggled with anxiety can identify anxiety by some of its most common symptoms: nervousness, sweating, fear, rapid heartbeat, and a few others.
But these are not the only symptoms of anxiety. Indeed, they are nowhere close. The list of symptoms associated with anxiety can surprise even doctors, and is singlehandedly responsible for millions of dollars in wasted medical tests.
Anxiety is occasionally called “The Great Imitator,” due to its ability to mimic other health conditions.
For those that live with chronic anxiety, the number of symptoms it can cause is extensive, from the usual to the unusual to the rare.
Anxiety changes the way you think.
Anxiety alters your hormone levels and how you process nutrients.
Anxiety changes your perception and awareness, so that you notice physical sensations that someone without anxiety would never notice.
Anxiety can even amplify physical sensations. For example, someone without anxiety may have a knee pain so mild that they don’t even notice it, but a person with anxiety feels that knee pain severely, because their mind has been altered to be hypersensitive to the way the body feels.
Anxiety can also create symptoms that are not there at all.
Anxiety Symptoms List – Learn About Your Anxiety
The best way to stop anxiety is to understand it. The more you understand what causes your symptoms, what they mean, why you struggle with them, and what you can do to stop them, the more you’ll be able to start making real progress on your own anxiety symptoms.
If you’re not sure if you have anxiety, you want to learn more about anxiety and how it affects you, or you want solutions to treat it based on your symptoms, make sure you take our free 7 minute anxiety test now.
Here at CalmClinic, we have compiled this guide to be the most comprehensive list of anxiety symptoms currently available. We have broken each symptom down into categories for easy navigation. You can click on any of the links below to be taken immediately to the section of your choice, or you can scroll down to start reading more about the symptoms as a whole.
Note: Some people experience anxiety symptoms that are 100% mental, with no physical symptoms. Others experience anxiety symptoms that are 100% physical, where they are anxious physically even though they have no worries and their mind is clear. Most people experience some combination of the two. There is no right or wrong way to experience anxiety.
Keep in mind that categorizing some anxiety symptoms is difficult. For example, what we consider a whole body symptom, you may feel is more of a chest symptom, and vice versa. So if you don’t find a symptom you struggle with, it may be in another section.
- Most Common Symptoms of Anxiety
- Mental Symptoms of Anxiety – Thoughts and More
- Emotional Symptoms of Anxiety
- Symptoms of Anxiety that Affect the Whole Body
- Symptoms of Anxiety that Affect the Organs
- Symptoms of Anxiety Affecting that Affect the Head
- Symptoms of Anxiety that Affect the Upper Body
- Symptoms of Anxiety that Affect the Lower Body
- Other Symptoms of Anxiety
Within each of these categories are sub-categories, where you can learn more about specific groupings of symptoms together. If you find that there is a symptom you struggle with that is not on this list that you’d like to discuss in the future, please feel free and contact us at any time and we’ll do our best to address it.
Note: Every Type of Anxiety Has Different Symptoms
Anxiety is not a single disorder.
This is incredibly important - anxiety has hundreds, possibly thousands of symptoms, but these symptoms may change depending on the type of anxiety you have. Anxiety disorders are an umbrella term for a group of anxiety conditions, each of which has its own unique signs and symptoms. These anxiety disorders include:
- Acute Stress Disorder
- Agoraphobia without history of Panic Disorder
- Anxiety Disorder due to a General Medical Condition
- Anxiety Disorder not Otherwise Specified
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Panic Disorder with Agoraphobia
- Panic Disorder without Agoraphobia
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Social Phobia
- Specific Phobia
- Substance Induced Anxiety Disorder
Keep this in mind as you learn about the symptoms of anxiety. However, it’s also important to note that not everyone’s anxiety fits into a neat little bubble. Many people with one type of anxiety struggle with symptoms that are very similar to another type of anxiety.
Finally, as you explore the symptoms below, know that you are not alone. We asked those on our Facebook page if they had weird anxiety symptoms, and they had hundreds of responses, ranging from “forgetting how to swallow,” to a “loud pop, like a firecracker, in their ear.” There are symptoms that are in no textbooks and never discussed in medical classes, but they’re there, and they are still anxiety.
At CalmClinic, all of our symptoms pages receive thousands of searches. People are genuinely experiencing these symptoms. Now it is just a matter of learning more about them, and trying your best to control them.
Although there are many strange and unusual anxiety symptoms, there are also anxiety symptoms that are very common. The most common anxiety symptoms are those directly caused by the fight or flight system – the system in your brain that is responsible for keeping you safe from harm, and, when it works improperly, the system in your brain that causes anxiety.
Usually, if you have anxiety, you will experience some of these symptoms. However, not everyone will experience all symptoms. Much depends on their anxiety disorder, how long they’ve had anxiety, what they’re paying attention to, and more. For example, some symptoms, like chest pains, are more common in panic attacks than in generalized anxiety disorder and OCD.
Don’t take this list to mean you do or do not have anxiety. Anxiety is more complex. But if you do have anxiety, you likely experience at least 50% of the following common anxiety symptoms (Click on each symptom to learn more):
- Breathing Difficulties
- Chest Pain
- Chest Pressure/ Chest Tightness
- Concentration Problems
- Depersonalization/ Derealization
- Difficulty Speaking
- Digestion Issues
- Feeling Ill
- Feeling Overwhelmed
- Feeling Shaky
- “Heart Attack Symptoms”
- Heart Pounding/Heart Palpitations
- Insomnia/ Drowsiness
- Lack of Air
- Low Energy
- Muscle Tension/ Sore Muscles
- Shallow Breathing
These are some of the most common anxiety symptoms. But if your symptoms do not appear on this list, that does not make them rare. There are still thousands of anxiety symptoms that millions of people all over the world experience.
For those that are interested in learn more about their anxiety symptoms, the following are all of the slightly less common, but no less important, symptoms of anxiety that you may experience, broken down by category.
Anxiety is a mental health condition, so the best place to start talking about anxiety symptoms is by looking at the mental ones.
Anxiety alters your brain. It changes how you think, how you perceive, and how you process information. For example, someone without anxiety tells a joke and no laughs. They move on. Someone with anxiety tells a joke and no one laughs. That person wonders if they’re being judged, if they offended someone, they may not be a funny person…
The same exact situation is processed differently.
Similarly, anxiety can cause strange mental symptoms. It can cause anhedonia – which is a total loss of the ability to feel pleasure. It can cause obtrusive thoughts, like imagining yourself being violent against a child, even though you have no violent tendencies. It can even cause you to forget who you are.
Anxiety changes the messengers in your brain that tell you how to think and act.
But rest assured, curing anxiety can also change it back. Anxiety changes your brain like a disease, but none of those changes have to be permanent.
Thought Symptoms of Anxiety
The following are some of the most common symptoms of anxiety related to thoughts. Thought symptoms are especially common with those struggling with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but play a role in nearly all forms of anxiety in some way. Anxiety thought symptoms include:
- Bad Thoughts
- Crazy Thoughts
- Disturbing Thoughts
- Intrusive Thoughts
- Irrational Thoughts
- Obsessive Thoughts
- Racing Thoughts
- Scary Thoughts
- Strange Thoughts
- Violent Thoughts
- Weird Thoughts
If you struggle with one of these thoughts, it’s important to remind yourself time and time again that these symptoms are caused by anxiety, and that anxiety changes how you think to make these types of thoughts more frequent. Click on any link above to learn more.
Cognitive Functioning Symptoms of Anxiety
In this guide, we wanted to differentiate types of thoughts form cognitive functioning. In this case, cognitive functioning refers to how your brain acts, not necessarily how you think. An example might be memory loss. Memory loss is very common in those with anxiety, especially for smaller details.
The following are some anxiety symptoms that affects how your mind functions:
- Auditory Hallucinations
- Distorted Reality
- Memory Loss
- Memory Problems
- Neurological Symptoms
It could be argued that emotional issues, like we discuss in the next section of the guide, are also related to cognitive functioning, as are some types of thoughts (such as racing thoughts), but this anxiety symptoms list should give you a bit more of an idea of the different types of mental anxiety symptoms.
Anxiety has a strong effect on your emotions. In some ways, anxiety itself is an emotion. But it also overwhelms and alters the serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine systems of the brain – the symptoms that are directly responsible for emotion.
As a result, it’s not uncommon for anxiety to affect your emotions. You can have almost any emotion as a result of anxiety. Some people actually experience anxiety euphoria – meaning, anxiety triggers them to feel extremely happy (although usually this occurs only when they have some relief from anxiety).
It is because anxiety alters the neurochemicals associated with mood that many emotional anxiety symptoms are common. We have broken it down into two sections, fear based emotional symptoms, and mood based emotion anxiety symptoms.
Mood Based Anxiety Symptoms
If you have anxiety, the changes it makes to your brain chemicals will affect your mood. But how it affects your mood is different for different people, because the human mind translates neurotransmitters differently. You can experience any, all, or only one of the many mood anxiety symptoms, which include:
- Aggression and Violence
- Development of Apathy
- Feel Like Crying
- Impaired Communication
- Isolation and Loneliness
- Mood Swings
- Numb Feelings
- “Psychotic” Behaviors
- Severe Sadness
- Suicidal Mindset
- The Emotional Brain
- Toying with Emotions
Click on each link to explore the symptom further. Many of them make perfect sense for the condition. For example, if you are struggling with stress because of anxiety, it makes sense that you may also be irritable. Other symptoms, like mood swings, may be directly caused by the different levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, which itself is caused by anxiety.
Fear Based Anxiety Symptoms
Anxiety itself is a form of fear. Indeed, often fears are a type of anxiety disorder. Phobias are significant fears of a specific stimulus, and cause their own anxiety symptoms. The following, however, are a few fears that are also symptoms of anxiety:
Symptoms of Anxiety that Affect the Whole Body
We will now start to list physical anxiety symptoms. These sections are broken up into individual parts of the body – such as the head, the chest, and more. But there are also some symptoms that affect the entire body, rather than any one individual part. These are those symptoms.
Muscle Related Anxiety Symptoms
Anxiety affects the muscles in many ways. The following are several of the symptoms of anxiety and the muscles, which may affect nearly any muscle in the body. Click on each link to explore what causes those specific symptoms to occur when you have anxiety.
- Muscle Aches
- Muscle Cramps
- Muscle Pain
- Muscle Spasms/ Behavioral Spasms
- Muscle Stiffness
- Muscle Twitching
- Muscle Weakness
This list excludes muscle tension, because we listed it in the “Common Anxiety Symptom” section. In addition, several types of pain and discomfort and specific areas of the body may be caused by muscles, but because they are specific to a body part, you will find them in a different list.
Blood and Circulatory System Related Anxiety Symptoms
Anxiety can also affect how your heart pumps blood, how your hormones react, and so much more. The following are some of the anxiety symptoms of the blood and circulatory system:
Anxiety can also make some issues that you already struggle with worse. Luckily, most of the time, these issues are only temporary, and do not cause any long term damage or lead to any long term risks.
Temperature Based Anxiety Symptoms
Anxiety also affects your body heat, which in turn can make you feel hot, cold, or both. The following are some of the body heat anxiety symptoms:
Some of these can also cause anxiety themselves, especially if you find yourself Googling your anxiety symptoms too often. But in most cases, they are largely harmless.
Other Whole-Body Anxiety Symptoms
The following are some symptoms of anxiety that affect the entire body, but do not necessarily fit into any one category. Be sure and explore the links below to learn more about each symptom, as well as what may cause it and what you can do about it.
- Aches and Pains
- Body Odor
- Joint Pain
- Pins and Needles
- Trouble Moving
- Weakened Immune System
Anxiety symptoms can also migrate, which may make them feel like they affect your entire body.
Although slightly less common, anxiety can also affect the organs, especially the largest organ on your body – your skin. We discussed chest pains and rapid heartbeat earlier, as your heart is frequently affected by the adrenaline from anxiety. But you may also find that anxiety affects your organs, or leads to similar organ symptoms, the following ways:
- Atrial Fibrillation
- Burning Skin
- Heart Palpitations
- Irregular Heartbeat
- Kidney Problems
- Red Blotches
- Skin Color Changes
- Slow Heart Rate
- Spleen Issues
If you struggle with any of these issues, it does make sense to see a doctor for safety, but anxiety really does cause all of these conditions, and if you struggle with them, curing your anxiety may be the only way to eliminate it.
Symptoms of Anxiety that Affect the Head - Including the Eyes, Nose, Mouth, Headaches
Since anxiety is a mental health condition, it does seem to make some sense that anxiety would have a strong effect on the head. But the number of physical anxiety symptoms in the head area can be staggering.
Eye Anxiety Symptoms
Anxiety seems to have a very strong effect on the eyes. This is partially as a result of the fight or flight response, which constricts blood vessels in a way that is meant to keep you focused, but does so ineffectively. However, since the eyes are dependent on a fully functioning brain, it’s not a surprise that anxiety causes a lot of eye symptoms, including:
- Blurred Vision
- Double Vision
- Eye Pain
- Eye Problems
- Pupil Changes
- Seeing Spots
- Sore Eyes
- Vision Problems
Often if these issues are caused by anxiety, the symptoms will seem to come and go at different times, which means glasses alone may not fix them.
Head Anxiety Symptoms
It’s not always clear why stress and anxiety seem to affect the head so much. Muscle tension is likely one of the most common culprits. But there are many symptoms that specifically affect the head, including:
These don’t even include the symptoms that often affect the face, which are listed below.
Anxiety and stress can cause many different nasal anxiety symptoms. They can also make allergies worse. Nasal anxiety symptoms include:
This is another issue where oversensitivity may be a problem as well. Anxiety can make you more sensitive to how you feel, so if you normally would be able to ignore a slightly runny nose, anxiety will make you more aware of it.
That same oversensitivity is often specifically linked to issues of the mouth. Indeed, while anxiety can literally cause a bad taste in your mouth, it can also make you hyper-aware of how your mouth “tastes” when normally you’d be able to enjoy it. Common mouth related anxiety symptoms include:
- Bad Taste in Mouth
- Constraining Voice
- Dry Mouth
- Lip Biting
- Metallic Taste
- Taste Changes
- Teeth Problems
Trouble swallowing and related issues are also common, but those are a bit more linked to the throat.
Hearing and Ear Symptoms
Some people describe strange hearing sensations with anxiety, like a loud “POP” noise that seems to come out of nowhere. You may experience any number of hearing and ear related anxiety symptoms, including:
This doesn’t include auditory hallucinations, either, which we listed above under the cognitive functioning section.
Because anxiety affects both your thoughts and your mouth, speech problems may also be common. If you struggle to speak as a symptom of your anxiety, see if you may have one of the anxiety speech symptoms below:
Of course, anxiety can also cause a fear of speaking in public, and those with anxiety – especially social anxiety – may have symptoms that include overthinking before you speak, or speaking too fast.
Other Head Symptoms (Including Face and Throat)
There are also some head symptoms that simply do not seem to fit into any of the above sections. The following are some additional symptoms of anxiety.
Some issues, like sore throat, may have very complex causes – such as anxiety triggering acid reflux, which in turn causes a sore throat. Don’t forget to explore the links to see if you can learn more about your own anxiety symptoms.
Symptoms of Anxiety that Affect the Upper Body - Including the Arms, Neck, Back, Chest
As we move down the body, we get to the symptoms that relate to the upper body – including arm anxiety symptoms, neck anxiety symptoms, back anxiety symptoms, chest anxiety symptoms, and the symptoms of the functions of the body that lay beneath them (such as the digestive tract).
We’ve done our best to break down each of these symptoms into their appropriate categories, but some may be hard to categorize, so be sure and explore to find symptoms you may be experiencing.
Arm and Hand Anxiety Symptoms
Anxiety doesn’t have a “Strong” effect on the arms and the hands, but it does affect them. The main culprits are nerves – which can misfire when you have anxiety – and blood flow, which usually flows to the arms and hands last. Some common arm and hand related anxiety symptoms include:
- Arm Pain
- Armpit Problems and Sweating
- Cold Hands
- Finger Symptoms
- Hand Symptoms
- Nail Biting
- Tingling Hands
Be careful about oversensitivity as well. Anxiety makes you so sensitive to normal sensations that they feel worse and more common. This occasionally happens with tingling hands, for example, although anxiety can also cause hands to tingle all on its own.
Chest, Digestive, and Breathing Anxiety Symptoms
Your chest is more than muscles. Inside of your chest are your lungs, which affect breathing, and several parts of your digestive tract. Each of these can lead to a variety of chest anxiety symptoms, including:
- Esophagus Problems
- Heartburn and Acid Reflux
- Respiratory Problems
- Rib Pain
Some of the most common anxiety symptoms are also chest related, like chest pains, rapid heartbeat, and trouble breathing, so be sure and review that section as well for other anxiety symptoms of the chest.
Abdominal and Stomach Anxiety Symptoms
Right below the chest is your abdomen, which houses your stomach and has some of the most sensitive muscles in your entire body. Those that struggle with stress regularly have abdominal pain, and other conditions due to the tensing of the muscles, and the balance of the digestive system. Symptoms include:
Stress has a strong effect on stomach acids and digestion, which in turn causes the body to process food differently, struggle with nutrient intake, and much more.
Other Upper Body Anxiety Symptoms
Of course, symptoms are not limited to those parts of the upper body. You may also find that you have a variety of additional symptoms, including:
Symptoms of Anxiety that Affect the Lower Body - Including the Legs, Feet, Genitals
Anxiety may start in your brain, but its effects can continue all the way down to your lower half as well, and that means dozens of different symptoms in your genitals, buttocks, legs, feet, and more.
Sometimes, the symptoms aren’t even easy to pin down. Those that struggle with panic attacks, for example, often find that automatic movements become manual. Something as simple as walking suddenly becomes difficult, because they are so aware of their body that they essentially override their muscle memory, and they have to figure out how to walk again.
It makes walking feel like playing QWOP.
Still, we have attempted to categorize the lower body symptoms into the following groups:
Genital, Waste, and Sex-Related Anxiety Symptoms
Problems with sex itself can be both a cause and a symptom of anxiety, and – due to stress, changes in blood flow, and how the brain works – anxiety can also create a lot of unique issues that affect urination, sexual desire, and more. The following are several of the waste and genital symptoms of anxiety:
- Bowel Problems
- Fertility Problems
- Genital Symptoms
- Incontinence/ Loss of Bladder Control
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Low Libido
- Peeing Problems
- Urination Issues
- Vaginal Discomfort
- Yellow Stool
Some of these issues are as fascinating as they are stressful. Take urination, for example. Your brain is only capable using a certain number of resources at a time. So when you have severe anxiety, your brain gives those resources to the place it thinks it needs it most – the fight or flight system.
In order to do that, it takes resources from the part of your brain responsible for holding in pee, causing you to want to urinate. Although the symptom can be extremely stressful, the science behind it is interesting. Make sure you click on the links above to explore the different symptoms more in depth.
Leg and Feet Anxiety Symptoms
Your legs and feet can be surprisingly sensitive to anxiety. The relationship between adrenaline/blood flow and your legs and feet is well known, which is why anxiety can cause many leg and foot symptoms, including:
Walking can often help with anxiety leg symptoms, but only if anxiety hasn’t affected your ability to walk.
Even in the most comprehensive list of anxiety symptoms, it can still be difficult to find a category for each one. The following are some of the miscellaneous anxiety symptoms that did not fit into any of the groups listed above.
Sleep Related Anxiety Symptoms
Anxiety has a profound effect on sleep, which is why “insomnia” was up there with the most common anxiety symptoms. But many other sleep related issues also exist, including:
Some people sleep more, others less. Some people dream more, others less. Some people sleep like a rock, others toss and turn. Stress is so complex that it can affect each person differently, and yet they can all be traced back to your mental health.
Behavioral Related Anxiety Symptoms
As a behavioral disorder, the way that anxiousness and nervousness can affect your behaviors is massive. Indeed, the simple act of avoiding a social situation because you have social fears, or having your partner drive because you hate freeways – all of those are arguably behavioral anxiety symptoms. The following are a few of the many that currently exist:
Those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder are especially prone to behavioral symptoms, and unfortunately they may not fit any of the examples above because they are specific to the negative thoughts of the obsession.
Illness Related Anxiety Symptoms and Miscellaneous
Finally, there are some common issues that fit into none of the above categories at all. For example, there are illness related anxiety symptoms that seem to mimic real disorders, as well as strange and unusual symptoms, like feeling itchy, that are different for different people. The following are some of the anxiety symptoms that did not quite fit the previous groups:
- Feeling Itchy
- Increased Risk of Infection
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Swollen Glands/ Swollen Lymph Nodes
As always, don’t forget to explore to learn more about each individual symptom.
Anxiety: It Does it All
Anxiety really can seem to cause almost every symptom imaginable, because it does. It mimics health conditions. It can make you so sensitive to how you feel that normal symptoms feel abnormal. It can create its own issues – such as causing acid reflux, which then causes hoarseness or chronic cough.
In nearly any mental health book, the list of anxiety symptoms is extremely small, and this leads to people developing even more anxiety as they worry that they may have something else – that something else may be wrong with them.
But if you talk to people that have anxiety, do research, and learn more about the condition, you will quickly find that there are hundreds of anxiety symptoms out there. All the more reason to find ways to cure it.
For more information about your own anxiety issues, take our free 7 minute anxiety test, now.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Jun 28, 2018.