How to Tell if you have Anxiety: 10 Signs and Symptoms | BetterHelp (2023)

Anxiety can manifest itself in numerous ways and for many reasons. Important exams, having to make a speech, or going on a first date with someone can all be sources of nervousness or other feelings commonly associated with anxiety. However, feelings of anxiety can also be chronic and not based on specific scenarios; and that could indicate an anxiety disorder. If you are unsure whether you have an anxiety disorder, there are mental and physical symptoms you can identify that may provide some clues.

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The Signs Of Anxiety

People experience anxiety differently. And there are different types of anxiety disorders — some people have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Others may live with panic disorder or social anxiety disorder. Some people may have difficulty with specific phobias. Despite the differences, here are some of the most common hallmarks of an anxiety disorder:

  1. Excessive Worrying

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, people with anxiety disorders often worry excessively or have a sense of dread, usually lasting six months or longer. These anxious feelings can stem from school, the workplace, social interactions, personal relationships, health, or finances, to name a few causes. For those with anxiety, keeping these feelings under control can be challenging, even if they realize that what they are experiencing is disproportionate to the reality of the circumstances.

  1. Difficulties With Sleeping & Restlessness

It is very common for anxiety to keep people awake at night, especially the night before an event that is contributing to fear and tension. Getting a good night’s sleep can feel impossible for some individuals, who find themselves tossing and turning in bed because of anxiety. Sleep is essential for virtually every function in the body, including your mental health. Sleepproblems can also be a contributor to anxiety and often make things worse. There are many ways for people to improve their sleeping habits, but those with intense anxiety and insomnia can benefit from consulting with a physician who can recommend a course of treatment.

  1. Fatigue

Even if the individual sleeps well at night, someone who experiences anxiety may experience fatigue throughout the day or become easily tired. Anxiety can be emotionally exhausting and can make getting through the day more difficult. When you are tired, your mood can also fluctuate, possibly leading to depression, a condition that is frequently comorbid with anxiety disorders.

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  1. Concentration Issues

Difficulty concentrating is a common symptom of an anxiety disorder that can also be considered a side effect of worry or sleep problems. If you struggle to complete work or school assignments and find yourself blanking out, anxiety may be to blame. Those who have this symptom might also procrastinate, either knowingly or unknowingly. That is, if they aren’t already distracted by anxious thoughts, they might find ways to distract themselves from those feelings and the things that contribute to their stress.

  1. Irritability & Tension

Anxiety can cause people to feel on edge frequently. Sometimes, those who are lost in thought about something worrisome might feel caught off-guard, or they might become easily angered and lash out at others. Individuals living with anxiety might also find that they lose their patience much easier than in the past. This common symptom can be detrimental to a person’s social life and personal relationships. Tension may also manifest in the body, leading to tense muscles and various aches and pains.

  1. Increased Heart Rate & Palpitations

Some of the most prevalent physical symptoms of anxiety involve the heart. When faced with a situation that induces stress, a person may notice that their heart rate goes up or begins to feel irregular. These feelings are very common during panic attacks and are also often experienced by those with social anxiety disorder. Panic attacks are typically short-lived, butthose with panic disorder may experience them regularly.

  1. Sweating & Hot Flashes

An increase in body temperature often comes when one’s heart rate and blood pressure increase. Therefore, those who have higher heart rates while experiencing anxious feelings may also find that they are feeling more body heat and sweating excessively.

  1. Trembling & Shaking

The stress associated with anxiety can cause a person’s limbs to shake uncontrollably, especially the hands. There are different types of tremors (such as those associated with Parkinson’s Disease); however, those associated with anxiety are often caused by adrenaline and the fight-or-flight response. Although this feeling is temporary, it is still uncomfortable and can create more fear and anxiety.

  1. Chest Pains & Shortness Of Breath

Someone with an anxiety disorder may experience chest pain or shortness of breath, particularly during a panic attack. They may feel like they cannot get enough oxygen in their lungs and experience a sensation of tightness or pain in their chest. This is known as dyspnea and is a symptom of many different medical conditions.

  1. Feelings Of Terror Or Impending Doom

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These symptoms can be quite severe and paralyzing. A feeling that something bad is about to happen, or is in the process of happening, can sometimes appear spontaneously. These symptoms typically pass within a few minutes, and although they are scary, they aren’t inherently dangerous and are sometimes disproportional to the actual events that cause anxiety and panic.

Coping With Anxiety Is Possible With Therapy

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Coping With Anxiety

Anxiety doesn’t usually have one single cause, but there is some common ground between the disorders, so treatment plans can be quite similar between patients. Treatment for an anxiety disorder typically includes a combination of psychotherapy and medication.

Medication Options

Different types of medication (such as anti-anxiety medications, beta-blockers, and antidepressants) may be used to reduce anxiety symptoms. Medication must be provided by your primary doctor or psychiatrist, who can diagnose you if you believe that you may be struggling with an anxiety disorder. Keep in mind that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to medication for treating anxiety; dosages can vary as well as the type of drug used.

Counseling & Therapy

One of the most effective methods for managing an anxiety disorder is therapy. Therapy is a helpful resource for treating anxiety because it uncovers why you may feel anxious in the first place, and from there, you can find solutions. A therapist trained in helping individuals with anxiety can give you the skills to manage and cope with anxiety. Many patients who attend therapy find ways to overcome it entirely.

Finding a therapist that works for you is easier than ever, and if you feel hesitant about attending an in-person counseling session, online therapy might be right for you.

Developing Healthy Coping Strategies

In addition to seeking professional treatment, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America suggestvarious strategies that can help an individual cope when they are feeling anxious:

  • Eat regular, nutritious meals

  • Aim to get daily physical activity

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  • Prioritize getting enough sleep

  • Engage in calming activities (like journaling or listening to music)

  • Practice deep breathing or meditation techniques

  • Limit caffeine (which can worsen anxiety)

  • Talk about how you are feeling with others (whether a family, friend, or support group)


Anxiety affects millions of people around the world. Although everyone has different reasons for feeling worried and stressed out, you are not alone, and support is always available in the form of therapy.

Some of the symptoms of anxiety can make it difficult to obtain help, however. Even leaving the house can be difficult, which is why online therapy is so popular among people with anxiety disorders. Online therapy allows you to speak to a licensed, accredited mental health professional on your schedule from the comfort of your home.

If you are experiencing symptoms of an anxiety disorder, reaching out to a therapist online with experience helping people struggling with symptoms of anxiety is an essential part of recovery.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you self-diagnose anxiety?

While many people attempt to self-diagnose. if you believe that you may be exhibiting signs of Generalized Anxiety Disorder GAD, it is important to reach out to a professional who can provide an official diagnosis and help you to explore treatment options. Treatment for GAD may include psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both.

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What causes anxiety?

Researchers believe that anxiety disorders occur due to a combination of genetic, psychological, and environmental factors. There are differentrisk factorsfor various types of anxiety disorders. However, common factors that may increase one’s likelihood of developing an anxiety disorder include a family history of anxiety disorders or other types of mental illness, certain personality traits, experiencing stressful life events, and/or a traumatic event.

Is anxiety a mental illness?

Common anxiety is a normal part of the human experience and doesn’t necessarily indicate a mental illness. However, chronic anxiety that persists and negatively impacts daily life may be indicative of an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are mental health conditions characterized by persistent worry that is difficult to control, avoidance of feared situations, and physical symptoms. However, there are different types of anxiety disorders that have their own set of signs and symptoms.

What Are The First Signs Of Anxiety?

Although each case of generalized anxiety disorder is unique, there are basic signs and symptoms that a person may exhibit. Intense fear, heart palpitations, restlessness, muscle tension, and worry may be the first signs of anxiety in persons dealing with anxiety. When any of these happen, it may be a good idea to seek professional help, anxiety medications, support groups, and other treatment options.

How Do You Feel When You Have Anxiety?

Most individuals react in a similar way togeneralized anxiety disorder,even if the signs and symptoms of each case may vary. When you experience anxiety, you may feel restless, overwhelmed with fear concerning an object or situation, weak or lethargic, excessive sweating, tense muscles, rapid breathing or shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, and trouble sleeping.

What Happens If Anxiety Is Left Untreated?

Unchecked, generalized anxiety disorder can have devastating effects on one’s daily life – work, school, and relationships. It can result in mental illnesses (such as depression), panic attacks, substance abuse, relationship problems, self-isolation, health conditions such as diabetes and heart failure, and more.

Does Ignoring Anxiety Make It Go Away?

Ignoring symptoms of anxiety does not make them go away. Instead, it can worsen the symptoms of anxiety and result in adverse mental health conditions like panic disorder. Treatment of anxiety disorders is necessary to help people living with anxiety lead normal lives.

How Long Does Anxiety Last?

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Anxiety and panic attacks usually span 5-30 minutes and can occur frequently and unexpectedly. The period may vary depending on the types of anxiety, the situation surrounding the attack (social situations), the severity, and the individual.


How do I know if I have anxiety 10 signs and symptoms? ›

  1. Feeling nervous, restless or tense.
  2. Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom.
  3. Having an increased heart rate.
  4. Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
  5. Sweating.
  6. Trembling.
  7. Feeling weak or tired.
  8. Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry.

How do I know if my symptoms are just anxiety? ›

Signs of an anxiety disorder
  • your worrying is uncontrollable and causes distress.
  • your worrying affects your daily life, including school, your job and your social life.
  • you cannot let go of your worries.
  • you worry about all sorts of things, such as your job or health, and minor concerns, such as household chores.

How many symptoms do you need to be diagnosed with anxiety? ›

excessive anxiety and worry most days about many things for at least six months. difficulty controlling your worry. appearance of three of the following six symptoms: restlessness, fatigue, irritability, muscle tension, sleep disturbance, and difficulty concentrating. symptoms significantly interfering with your life.

What are the 4 coping skills for anxiety? ›

The Coping Skills: Anxiety worksheet describes four strategies for reducing anxiety. Strategies include deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, imagery, and challenging irrational thoughts.

Do I have anxiety and not know it? ›

Even if you're not consciously aware of it, anxiety could still be affecting your life and well-being. The idea of being anxious without knowing it might sound impossible. But the subconscious mind is more than capable of producing anxious thoughts, which may be hard to recognize.

What feels like anxiety but is not? ›

If your blood sugar drops too low, it can cause you to sweat and feel shaky, which may be confused with anxiety. If your thyroid gland is overactive, you can sweat excessively and feel restless and nervous. Irregular heartbeats and tachycardia, which is increased heart rate, can also present as an anxiety disorder.

Do I have anxiety or am I just nervous? ›

Intensity: Nervousness doesn't prevent you from doing the things that make you nervous. Anxiety, on the other hand, can prevent you from doing something you enjoy and make it difficult to focus and go about your day. Focus: Nervousness is a response to something specific, while anxiety is often more general.

Am I just anxious or do I have anxiety? ›

Those who have an anxiety disorder often feel anxious for no reason at all; their anxiety cannot be traced to a specific event, task, or situation. With an anxiety disorder, an individual may continue to feel anxious even after the presentation is finished, even if they clearly did well.

What can anxiety do to your body? ›

Effects of anxiety on your body
  • a churning feeling in your stomach.
  • feeling light-headed or dizzy.
  • pins and needles.
  • feeling restless or unable to sit still.
  • headaches, backache or other aches and pains.
  • faster breathing.
  • a fast, thumping or irregular heartbeat.
  • sweating or hot flushes.

What does anxiety feel like in your head? ›

Some common mental symptoms of anxiety include:

Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom. Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry. Having difficulty controlling worry. Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety.

How do you test your anxiety level? ›

Anxiety test
  1. How often have you been bothered by feeling nervous, anxious or on edge over the last two weeks? ...
  2. How often have you been bothered by not being able to stop or control worrying over the last two weeks? ...
  3. How often have you been bothered by worrying too much about different things over the last two weeks?

What are the 5 C's of anxiety? ›

The 5Cs are competence, confidence, character, caring, and connection. The anxiety dimensions are Social anxiety, Physical symptoms, Separation anxiety, and Harm avoidance.

What are the three C's of anxiety recovery? ›

It is based on the three "C's" of recovery calm your body, correct your thinking, and confront your fears.

How I healed my anxiety without drugs? ›

Anxiety Treatment Without Medication: 7 Holistic Ways to Cope
  1. Keep Your Blood Sugar in Check. ...
  2. Avoid Stimulants. ...
  3. Get Enough Sleep. ...
  4. Just Breathe. ...
  5. Practice Mindfulness. ...
  6. Exercise. ...
  7. Do What You Enjoy. ...
  8. Where to Get Help.
Dec 6, 2017

Can anxiety make you sick? ›

Yes, anxiety can cause nausea and other gastrointestinal problems. Outside of your brain, your digestive system contains the second largest number of nerves in your body. Some scientists even call your gut your "second brain."

Can anxiety make you feel weird? ›

Feeling like there is someting wrong, odd, or strange about how you feel is a common sign and symptom of anxiety, anxiety disorder, and anxiety and panic attacks.

What is floating anxiety? ›

The American Psychological Association defines free-floating anxiety as “a diffuse, chronic sense of uneasiness and apprehension not directed toward any specific situation or object.” To put it another way, you might simply feel worried, nervous, and fearful for no clear reason.

What 3 things should you stay away from to escape anxiety? ›

Make sure your daily diet includes foods such as wholegrain cereals, leafy green vegetables and low-fat dairy products. Nicotine, caffeine and stimulant drugs (such as those that contain caffeine) trigger your adrenal glands to release adrenaline, which is one of the main stress chemicals. These are best avoided.

What does God says about anxiety? ›

Philippians 4:6

"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."

What makes anxiety worse at night? ›

Why Is Anxiety Worse at Night? Anxiety can get worse at night as people find themselves focusing more on their worries once they are lying in bed without the distractions of the day. For example, sometimes people with insomnia may begin to develop worries about whether or not they will be able to fall asleep.

When is anxiety serious? ›

Severe anxiety is when the body's natural responses to anticipated stress exceed healthy levels and interrupt your ability to function and carry out typical day-to-day tasks. The immediate physical symptoms can include a racing heart, changes in breathing, or a headache.

What illness is misdiagnosed as anxiety? ›


As an “invisible illness” that causes widespread pain and fatigue and does not have a definitive diagnostic test or cause, fibromyalgia is often assumed to be anxiety when doctors can't find a cause for the symptoms, particularly because fibromyalgia affects more women than men.

Can you have anxiety all day? ›

If you're feeling anxious all the time, or it's affecting your day-to-day life, you may have an anxiety disorder or a panic disorder.

What level of anxiety is normal? ›

Normal levels of anxiety lie on one end of a spectrum and may present as low levels of fear or apprehension, mild sensations of muscle tightness and sweating, or doubts about your ability to complete a task. Importantly, symptoms of normal anxiety do not negatively interfere with daily functioning.

Do I have a mental illness or am I overreacting? ›

It's important to note that only a mental health professional can diagnose a mental health condition. Therefore, the only way to receive a definite answer to the question, “Do I have a mental illness, or am I overreacting?”, is to get in touch with a professional at an accredited treatment center.

What happens if anxiety is left untreated? ›

Untreated anxiety can result in changes to the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus. This impaired functioning may increase the risk of developing neuropsychiatric disorders such as depression and dementia.

Why does my head feel weird with anxiety? ›

Anxiety causes a heavy head feeling because of tension headaches common in people living with the disorder. Most people describe these headaches as feeling like a tight band wrapped around their heads. A tightening of the scalp and neck muscles also causes an anxiety headache.

What part of head hurts with anxiety? ›

Anxiety headaches, sometimes referred to as tension headaches, may occur in many different places, including: The front, sides, tops, and even back of the head. The back of the neck. The shoulder muscles in between shoulder blades.

What goes through your head when you have anxiety? ›

Anxiety happens when a part of the brain, the amygdala, senses trouble. When it senses threat, real or imagined, it surges the body with hormones (including cortisol, the stress hormone) and adrenaline to make the body strong, fast and powerful.

Can anxiety affect your eyes? ›

When we are severely stressed and anxious, high levels of adrenaline in the body can cause pressure on the eyes, resulting in blurred vision. People with long-term anxiety can suffer from eye strain throughout the day on a regular basis.

What are the 9 symptoms of anxiety? ›

Feeling anxious or worried

Other symptoms of anxiety may include heart palpitations, shortness of breath, headache, sweating, trembling, feeling dizzy, restlessness, diarrhoea or a racing mind.

What are the 10 types of anxiety disorders? ›

Types of Anxiety Disorders
  • Generalized anxiety disorder. You feel excessive, unrealistic worry and tension with little or no reason.
  • Panic disorder. ...
  • Social anxiety disorder. ...
  • Specific phobias. ...
  • Agoraphobia. ...
  • Separation anxiety. ...
  • Selective mutism. ...
  • Medication-induced anxiety disorder.
Jan 7, 2023

What illness feels like anxiety? ›

Conditions That Look Like Anxiety
  • Heart Problems. 1/15. These can spike your heart and breathing rates the same way anxiety does. ...
  • Asthma. 2/15. ...
  • Diabetes. 3/15. ...
  • Hyperthyroidism. 4/15. ...
  • Sleep Apnea. 5/15. ...
  • Adrenal Dysfunction. 6/15. ...
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) 7/15. ...
  • Electrolyte Imbalance. 8/15.
Mar 17, 2023


1. 8 Signs of Anxiety You Might Not Recognize
2. 7 Signs It Might Be Anxiety
3. The Scary Physical Symptoms Associated With Anxiety #shorts
(Dr. Tracey Marks)
4. 8 Signs You Might Have Social Anxiety
5. Signs of a Panic Attack
(Psych Hub)
6. 10 Signs of High Functioning Anxiety


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