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Signs & Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety disorder presents itself in many forms. Here are the most common signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders to keep an eye out for.

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Anxiety can be very debilitating

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What is Anxiety

Everyone will experience occasional anxiety at some stage of their life. These feelings are usually induced by things like job interviews, exams, moving, and other everyday things that almost everyone goes through at some stage.

People that struggle with anxiety disorders, on the other hand, have excessive, persistent, and intense fears and worries about things that most people would simply get a few nerves over. Often, this presents itself as frequent episodes of overwhelming fear or terror that cripple them within minutes. These episodes are known as panic attacks.

These anxiety disorder symptoms can interfere with everyday life, as they are incredibly difficult to control and mostly out of proportion to the actual danger facing the individual. These symptoms could start in childhood or develop as a teen and into adulthood.

There are many different types of anxiety disorders, such as social anxiety, specific phobias, and separation anxiety, for example. It’s also possible to have more than one anxiety disorder.

These are the signs and symptoms of most anxiety disorders that you need to keep an eye out for:

Worrying Excessively

Excessive worrying is something that commonly accompanies most anxiety disorders. This worrying is often disproportionate to the event that is causing it and will typically develop over seemingly innocuous everyday situations. The worrying is often severe and intrusive – it makes it difficult for the person to concentrate on and manage everyday tasks.


When we feel anxious, our sympathetic nervous system gets overloaded. This causes our body to react in ways such as higher heart rates, sweaty palms, trembling hands, and a dry mouth. This happens because the brain believes that it has detected significant danger and it’s getting the body ready to react in the most appropriate way.

The body prioritizes the places that it thinks will be most needed when the danger hits and this means it directs blood away from the digestive system and into muscles to prepare for flight or fight mode. These effects are particularly important if the danger turns out to be real, but they can be debilitating if it’s disproportionate to the threat itself.

These effects also last longer in those suffering from an anxiety disorder, so they will deal with these heightened body changes for a long time after the threat has been dismissed.

Frequent Restlessness

Children and teens are the most likely to suffer from restlessness as a form of anxiety disorder. People that struggle with frequent restlessness always feel on edge, or the urge to move due to discomfort.

Restlessness doesn’t occur in all people that have an anxiety disorder, but it is one of the red flags that medical professionals frequently look for when making an anxiety diagnosis – especially in children.

General Fatigue

This may come as a surprise to many people, as anxiety is normally associated with hyperactivity and awareness. Fatigue, however, is a common symptom of generalized anxiety. In some cases, fatigue might follow an anxiety attack, but for others, fatigue could be an ever-present chronic issue.

It’s not clear yet whether fatigue itself is a symptom of anxiety or whether it is a result of other symptoms like insomnia, muscle tension, and chronic worrying. Keep in mind that fatigue is also one of the most common signs of medical conditions such as depression.

Concentration Problems

Difficulty concentrating is one of the most commonly reported symptoms in people with anxiety disorders. In fact, one study involving 157 children and teens with generalized anxiety uncovered that two-thirds of them have concentration problems.

In general, the more intense anxiety is, the harder it is for people to concentrate. In fact, some studies have shown that anxiety interrupts some people’s working memory, which is responsible for retaining short-term information. This could be why people that struggle with high anxiety often experience decreased performance.

Keep in mind that concentration difficulties are also a symptom of other conditions like ADHD and depression.


Excessive irritability is another symptom of anxiety disorders. This is mainly due to the hyperawareness and constant state of being ready to fight or run from the perceived danger.

Tense Muscles

People that struggle with anxiety disorder often report feeling muscle tenseness on most days. It’s not fully understood why muscle tenseness is so prevalent – whether it’s from the blood rushing to the muscles, the tenseness increases due to feeling anxious, or that having tense muscles increases the feelings of anxiety.

Interestingly, many people report that muscle relaxation therapy reduces worry and anxiety in those who struggle with the disorder.

Sleep Disturbances

People with anxiety disorders frequently struggle with sleep. The two most commonly reported sleep issues are trouble falling asleep and waking up in the middle of the night. Insomnia has been recorded in most people with anxiety, but it’s unclear whether it’s insomnia that leads to anxiety, anxiety that leads to insomnia, or a bit of both.

Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are common in many anxiety disorders, but they are particularly frequent in panic disorders. Panic attacks are characterized by a debilitating sensation of fear that is so intense that it completely overwhelms the senses.

This intense feeling of fear is normally felt alongside other symptoms like rapid heartbeat, shaking, shortness of breath, trouble breathing, sweating, and nausea. While panic attacks can happen infrequently and in isolation, panic disorder is usually accompanied by frequent, unexpected panic attacks.

Social Avoidance

Social anxiety disorder is characterized by overwhelming anxiety over upcoming social situations. This could be related to a fear of judgment or scrutiny by others, a fear of being embarrassed or humiliated in front of peers, and more.

People that suffer from social anxiety will often avoid social situations however they can. This is a disorder that predominantly develops early on in life and can become particularly intense during teen years. People that struggle with social anxiety might seem extremely quiet or shy when they are surrounded by new people. Although they might not look distressed on the surface, they are often battling crippling fear and anxiety on the inside.

Specific Phobias

Phobias are extreme fears about specific things and can be defined as extreme anxiety. The most common phobias people exhibit are the fear of spiders, enclosed spaces, heights, and injections. A phobia is severe and can interfere with a person’s ability to function normally.

Get Help

While some people may be able to decrease their anxiety using natural remedies like yoga, meditation, diet, and so on, for many people, this simply isn’t enough. If anxiety isn’t treated by a medical professional, it could be debilitating for a person and can have long-lasting negative impacts on their everyday life.

In some cases, individuals suffering from anxiety turn to alcohol and drugs to soothe the symptoms. This can lead to addiction and have an even more grievous effect on anxiety and mental health.

At Addiction Rehab Treatment, we create individual treatment plans for people suffering from all kinds of mental health disorders and substance abuse resulting from mental health disorders such as anxiety.

Our highly trained and empathetic treatment navigators work with patients to ensure that they get the treatment they need to live a healthy life where they can manage the obstacles in their way. If you, or a loved one, are struggling with anxiety disorder, don’t hesitate to get in touch to see how we can help you.

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