Anxiety itself is known as a psychological problem. Anxiety originates in the mind, and most people are familiar with the idea behind anxiety - fear, worry, concern - so they view anxiety through that mental lens.
But anxiety has many physical symptoms as well, and some of the physical symptoms can be profound. In addition, it's possible to experience physical anxiety symptoms even when no fear or worried thoughts are present. Anxiety is a complicated disorder, and one that may cause physical symptoms that are as bad as some diseases.
Are Your Symptoms Anxiety?
Anxiety can cause some common, and some rare physical anxiety symptoms. Our free 7 minute anxiety symptoms test has a whole list of possible symptoms, and can score your anxiety severity and see what your symptoms say about your anxiety.
The Many Physical Symptoms of Anxiety
Anxiety causes long term stress, and that stress can lead to a host of physical anxiety symptoms. In some cases it may be just some mild stomach discomfort. In other cases it can be severe enough to land people in the hospital.
Everyone experiences anxiety symptoms differently, and the symptoms may vary depending on severity and type. If you haven't yet, take the free 7 minute anxiety test I developed to get you a graph/snapshot of your anxiety, along with treatment recommendations.
There are both common anxiety symptoms and uncommon anxiety symptoms. Most people with anxiety experience varying symptoms simply because everyone has different health, different bodies, different nutrition, and different reactions. One person may experience anxiety of the exact same severity as someone else in completely different ways.
Common Anxiety Physical Symptoms
Common anxiety symptoms are the ones that nearly everyone experiences in some form or another. Once again, it's possible to experience anxiety without these common symptoms, but in general, if you have anxiety, you're likely to experience the following:
- Heart Palpitations / Pounding heart
- Excessive Sweating / Perspiration
- Uncontrollable Trembling / Shaking
- Shortness of Breath
- Choking Sensations / Difficulty Swallowing
- Nausea / Vomiting
- Dizziness / Lightheadedness
- Hot and Cold Flashes
Some of these are a bit more common than others. Vomiting with anxiety tends to occur more often if the anxiety is severe, while nearly everyone experiences rapid heartbeat. But in general, these are the most common anxiety symptoms that affect those that suffer from persistent anxiety.
Uncommon Anxiety Symptoms and Rare Anxiety Symptoms
Some symptoms of anxiety are much less common, and some physical anxiety symptoms are rare. These symptoms may also be more common in those with specific types of anxiety. For example, those with panic attacks and post traumatic stress disorder are more likely to experience hyperventilation, and hyperventilation can lead to a host of anxiety symptoms, including:
- Chest Pains
- Tingling or Weakness in the Extremities
- Finger Cramps
Hyperventilation symptoms are NOT rare. They are actually extremely common. But they are more common in some types of anxiety than others. Furthermore there are many other uncommon and rare anxiety symptoms, because anxiety causes stress, and stress can change your body in unusual ways. Some uncommon symptoms include:
- Depersonalization (Feeling as though you're outside your own body).
- Skin rashes/itching.
- Need to Urinate
- Eye Pain/Strain/Vision Issues
One of the most interesting, and unfortunate issues with anxiety is that there's no way to know exactly how stress will affect you. Stress can affect your organs, your hormones, your nutrition, and more.
For example, it's possible for anxiety and stress to cause other disorders as well, like anemia. Stress may also cause other mental health conditions as well, especially depression. Anxiety is so much more complex than people give it credit for, and may be related to numerous physical issues that others assume are related to physical health.
Other Issues With Physical Sensations and Anxiety
Anxiety also causes other issues with physical symptoms - namely that it makes normal sensations more pronounced.
Your body experiences various discomforts all the time. Those that do not experience anxiety often shrug them off - or may not notice them at all. To those without anxiety, they're just sensations like any other.
But those with anxiety, especially health anxiety and panic attacks, often feel these same physical sensations more strongly. They become too in-tune with their own body, and so the sensations feel stronger and trigger more worry and concern. Objectively the experience may be no different to someone without anxiety, but subjectively it can feel much worse because your mind notices each and every one.
So not only are there numerous physical symptoms of anxiety - there may also be more pronounced non-anxiety issues as well.
Your Anxiety Symptoms May Kill You
That's what people think when they're suffering from an anxiety attack. Anxiety can't kill you, although long term stress can be dangerous, it's generally harmless in the moment. But during an anxiety attack, it can feel like you're about to die.
If this has ever happened to you, take my anxiety test now.
How to Stop the Physical Anxiety Symptoms
When you suffer from the physical symptoms of anxiety, your goal is often to stop them as quickly as possible. One of the issues that affects people during treatment is that they generally want to treat the symptom that bothers them the most, but not the anxiety itself.
For example, those with digestive stress because of anxiety often take Tums or other over-the-counter stomach aids. Those with headaches tend to take pain killers, and so on.
Often these treatments have no effect at all, and those that they do affect they will only relieve temporarily. Ideally, you need to make sure your anxiety is under control, and the physical symptoms will go away with it.
Start with the following:
- Control Your Breathing Start by taking slower breaths, and try not to take in "too much air." Many of the worst anxiety symptoms come from hyperventilation, which occurs both from breathing too quickly and from trying to breathe in more air than your body needs. Slow breaths through the stomach will reduce some of the worst anxiety symptoms.
- Start Exercising Much of anxiety actually comes from inactivity. Exercise releases endorphins and tires muscles, both of which drastically reduce your anxiety experience. Exercising, especially jogging, is extremely important for managing anxiety.
- Avoid Stress - Avoiding stress is often easier said than done. But there are always little stresses you can avoid. Don't watch frightening movies, or listen to stressful music, or spend time with people that bring stress into your life. This may not stop your anxiety completely, but it should reduce the severity of the symptoms.
From there, you really need to learn to deal with your specific anxiety issues, and for that, you need to learn what kind of anxiety you have as well as recognize how it's affecting you.
That's why when I've helped the thousands of people that I've worked with in the past, I first tell them to take my 7 minute anxiety test. It's a free test I developed to give you a visual representation of your anxiety and ideas for how to treat it. Once you've had an opportunity to get that snapshot, you'll be able to reduce your physical symptoms forever.
Author: Micah Abraham, BSc Psychology, last updated Sep 28, 2017.