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Page medically reviewed by Dr Donna Grant (BSc, MBBS, MRCPsych) Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Hospital Chelmsford.

Anxiety is typically thought of as an intense feeling of worry, dread of apprehension. We all experience anxiety at times, often in response to troubling events in our lives.

Anxiety can also lead to physical symptoms. When we feel anxious, our ‘fight or flight’ response is activated as a response to perceived danger. This can affect our body and lead to a series of weird body sensations.

For people who struggle with a type of anxiety disorder, they often find that their body is overly sensitive to stressors. Their anxiety will affect their body physically, leading to things like chest pains, excessive sweating, nausea and heart palpitations.

Can you have Physical Anxiety Symptoms without Feeling Anxious?

Physical symptoms of anxiety can creep up on us without us being consciously aware of it. You may be feeling nervous about an upcoming event or recent change in your life, which can cause physical sensations.

Experiencing these types of physical symptoms of anxiety are a totally part of normal life. It’s possible for you to feel bodily sensations from anxiety without “feeling” anxious yourself.

What Are the Physical Symptoms of Anxiety?

Common physical symptoms we experience include the following:

  • Increased heart rate, heart palpitations, shortness of breath or rapid breathing
  • Muscle tension
  • Chest pain
  • Headaches
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sweating
  • Numbness, tingling, dizziness and light-headedness
  • Feeling overheated or having chills
  • Finding it difficult to concentrate
  • Gut problems
  • Feeling weak or tired

Physical anxiety might also feel like a sudden intense rush of fear, known as a panic attack. Panic disorder often includes a pounding heart, severe chest pains and a feeling that you might faint. Panic attacks are sudden surges of anxiety that pass quickly, versus typical anxiety which can vary in intensity and longevity.   

Alongside the physical, the symptoms of anxiety can also be psychological and behavioural. It means that anxiety disorders can leave people’s lives severely affected in many different ways.

How to Ease Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

There are steps you can take to deal with anxiety and help keep the physical symptoms under control. Try some of these coping strategies.

1. Try some relaxation techniques

Relaxation techniques like deep breathing and muscle relaxation are a great way to reduce physical anxiety. These techniques take some practice, but over time they will train your body and brain to relax.

2. Distract your body and mind

Ultimately, there is something that is the root cause of anxiety. Distracting yourself from that event or scenario is a good way to reduce physical anxiety in the immediate term. Even something as simple as leaving the room can help to switch your mind away from what’s causing anxiety.  

3. Look after yourself  

Exercise is one of the best ways you can reduce physical anxiety. Being active helps to release positive chemicals in our brain, which can help to train both a healthy body and mind. This can help to keep anxiety at bay.

4. Check for physical health issues

It can be hard to tell if your physical symptoms are being caused by anxiety or another health problem. Asthma for example, could be leading to shortness of breath, and that issue could be making you feel anxious.

If you’re unsure, go and see your GP and seek their medical expertise. 

Treatment for Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

If your symptoms are leading to chronic anxiety and they have been going on for a while, you may want to seek treatment.

Today, effective, research-led treatments for anxiety are widespread. The most common are therapy and medication. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is considered the gold-standard talking therapy for mood disorders like anxiety. CBT for anxiety helps you understand how your thoughts and beliefs affect your emotions and behaviour.

For people with moderate and severe symptoms of anxiety, medications like antidepressants might also be used. Taken in conjunction with therapy, medication can help to relieve your symptoms so you can focus fully on therapy.

Help for Anxiety at Priory

If your anxiety is preventing you from leading a normal life, or your anxiety symptoms have been present for many days or weeks, it may be time to seek additional help. Anxiety is a treatable mental health condition, and sufferers are able to make a full recovery and return to normal.

The first place to head is your local GP. They can assess your symptoms, offer a diagnosis for anxiety and outline treatment options.

Alternatively, you could get in touch with Priory directly, where our world-class team of mental health practitioners help people deal with their anxiety across the UK every single day. We can diagnose any mental health issues that you are struggling with and then outline a course of anxiety treatment that will help get your life back on track.

In most cases, anxiety can be treated with therapy and/or medication. These can be delivered through one of our many different treatment programmes, such as intensive inpatient stays, outpatient or day care therapy sessions that fit in with your life and work commitments. We also offer online therapy that allows you to recover from the comfort of your own home.

Whichever course of treatment is right for you, get in touch with Priory and start your journey to recovery today. 

Get in Touch Today

Get in touch with Priory by calling 0800 840 3219 for a compassionate chat about the difficulties you've been experiencing and how our treatment can put you on the road to recovery. Alternatively, make an enquiry via email and our team will be in touch soon. 

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