Common Symptoms of Anxiety


There are a number of different anxiety disorders, each with a distinct collection of symptoms. However, the most common symptoms often include:

  • overwhelming emotion

  • excessive / persistent worry

  • insomnia

  • sweating

  • dizziness

  • shaking / trembling

  • increased or irregular heartbeat

  • muscle pain / tension

  • feeling on edge

  • inability to relax

  • being easily startled

  • back pain / irritable bowel syndrome (I.B.S)

  • restlessness and fatigue

  • avoidance of certain situations

It is important to recognise that any of these symptoms listed above can be experienced by any ‘normal and healthy’ person at some point in their life. If you have experienced any or all of the above list [at some point in your life] it does not necessarily mean that you definitely have an anxiety disorder. For example, if you go through a period when you find it hard to sleep, it doesn’t automatically mean that you have an anxiety disorder.

To understand the difference between ‘normal’ anxiety and an actual anxiety disorder, here are some differences:


  • Concerns over if you will be able to pay the bills, get the promotion or job you want, experience a relationship break-up or another important life event.

  • A case of nervousness or sweating prior to doing an exam, a public presentation or some other specific and significant life event.

  • Appropriate levels of apprehension and/or fear of a dangerous object, place, person or situation.

  • A reasonable level of emotional response after a significant or traumatic life event, which passes after a few minutes or hours (max.).

  • Low level occasional feelings of nervousness surrounding certain social situations, which does not stop you from doing the activity.


  • Persistent and irrational compulsion to worry about almost anything and everything, to the point that it causes such high levels of stress and interferes with everyday life.

  • Unexpected sudden panic or intense fear for no reason and/or living with the constant worry you will be overcome by anxiety in the future.

  • Irrational fear or avoidance of an object, place, person or situation that poses little genuine threat or danger.

  • An inappropriately high level of emotional reaction after a significant or traumatic life event, which takes days or weeks to pass.

  • Avoidance of a number of social situations due to a significant fear of being judged, embarrassed or being overwhelmed by anxiety.

Having read the symptoms along with the lists describing the differences between ‘normal’ anxiety and anxiety disorders, would you say you need to learn ways to manage ‘normal’ levels of anxiety or do you need help with an anxiety disorder? When considering this, aim to remain as objective as possible and base your decision on how you’ve felt and behaved most often. The trap with these kinds of ‘tests’ is that we can often relate to the worst case scenario, when in reality you may only experience them occasionally and to a less extreme extent.

Having gone from having crippling anxiety to come out of other side to live with consistent calm and confidence, I want you to know there is hope and there are solutions to your symptoms. Always remember: peace is possible and if you take action now you can soon look back on the anxiety as a distant memory!

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