Anxiety symptoms

Anxiety becomes a problem when the sufferer starts to worry about situations and things happening that don’t seem to be usual things to be concerned about.  Also, people can struggle to concentrate and the list of their worries becomes bigger and bigger.

Although anxiety is a natural human emotion, experiencing high levels of anxiety for a long period of time can lead to anxiety disorders such as panic, phobias and obsessive behaviours. 

Common signs of anxiety

Common anxiety symptoms can include:

  • A persistent sense of worry and dread - for example being unable to find pleasure in everyday things and constantly worrying about something happening
  • Headaches
  • Nausea, feeling faint, dizzy or lightheaded
  • Diarrhoea
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Increased heartbeat or palpitations
  • Retracting from social situations in order to avoid possible stress and questions regarding anxiety or worry
  • A sense of hopelessness - feeling trapped and unable to find a 'way out’
  • Panic attacks as a form of release or as a physical reaction to anxiety. These can be an extremely frightening experience as there is often a total loss of control
  • Weight loss or gain  due to lack/increase of appetite

Emotional symptoms of anxiety

  • Impatience
  • Feeling fearful, paranoid and tense
  • Mood swings
  • Anger and irritability
  • Feeling tearful and emotionally tired
  • Increased or reduced sleep
  • Feeling nervous and on edge
  • Extreme stress
  • Clouded judgement

What are the psychological symptoms of anxiety?

Psychological symptoms include fear and worry about a situation, or your physical response to a situation. Sufferers commonly feel: "I'm losing control", "I'm having a heart attack", or "I can't cope". These thoughts make the physical symptoms worse, creating a vicious circle resulting in states of panic. You may want to avoid all situations that make you nervous, which will seriously affect your lifestyle, even leading to a dependence on alcohol or drugs.

Living with anxiety - Margaret's story


Coping with anxiety symptoms

Dr Paul McLaren, Consultant Psychiatrist, suggests seven coping mechanisms to help ease your anxiety symptoms:

  1. Ensure you allow time for relaxation, hobbies and having fun
  2. Try to avoid rushing, doing too much at once or being too competitive
  3. Make sure you get enough sleep at night and take regular exercise
  4. Avoid smoking
  5. Limiting your intake of caffeine-based drinks and alcohol can help reduce anxiety
  6. Avoid cannabis and other illegal drugs
  7. Try making a 'problem list'. Then try and tackle the things on it one by one, rather than allowing yourself to be overwhelmed. Ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen”? 

For further information, on how Priory hospitals and clinics can help to treat anxiety, or to find a treatment centre near you, then please click here.