Anxiety and Stress: Common Symptoms and Recommended Treatment

Anxiety and Stress: Common Symptoms and Recommended Treatment

Anxiety can be the underlying cause for hundreds of physical symptoms.  Often individuals believe they have a serious medical condition long before they realize they have an anxiety disorder.  Many clients, specifically adults, deny having anxiety but will readily admit that they worry constantly.  It is estimated that nearly 70% of Americans suffer from at least one type of anxiety.

Chronic or severe anxiety can be disabling; a roller coaster of emotional and physical symptoms drastically impacting the quality of one’s life.  Following is a list of commonly reported physical and emotional symptoms reported by individuals who suffer from anxiety.  Frequently patients are relieved to hear or read that others have similar experiences or thoughts such as "anxiety about anxiety" or fearing another panic attack.  As unique as we are individually, so is the severity and type of symptoms one may experience as a result of anxiety.

Below is a condensed list of commonly reported physical symptoms, thoughts and fears associated with anxiety. 

Physical symptoms associated with anxiety:

  • Body and muscle aches
  • Extreme sensations of being hot or cold
  • Chest pain and tightness
  • Startling easily
  • Dizziness or lightheaded
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Body or Head Zaps, tingling sensations or numbness
  • Restlessness or inability to relax
  • Weakness/weakened muscles
  • Flu-like symptoms, feeling as if coming down with a flu
  • Frequent urination
  • Profuse Sweating
  • Sensation of choking or suffocation
  • Gagging, coughing
  • Heart palpitations, pounding or racing heart
  • TMJ or tightening of the jaw
  • Shooting pains in any area of the body
  • Holding one’s breath, shortness of breath or rapid breathing
  • Increased or decreased sex drive
  • Difficulty hearing, “plugged” or ringing in the ears
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Neck, back, or shoulder pain, tension, tightness/stiffness
  • Night sweats, waking up in a sweat
  • Vertigo or feeling off balance
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Headaches and migraines
  • IBS-Irritable Bowel Syndrome or colitis

Impact on Sleep

  • Insomnia-Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Frightening or bizarre dreams
  • Hearing sounds that jolt one awake
  • Waking up in a panic attack
  • Experiencing heightened anxiety in the mornings

Fears associated with anxiety

  • Excessive fear of what others think
  • Afraid of being trapped with no exits
  • Fear of dying
  • Fear of losing control or snapping
  • Fear of panic attacks
  • Fear about health or having an undetected health condition
  • Fear of making mistakes or feeling humiliated
  • Fear of being in public places
  • Fear of fainting
  • Fear of going insane or losing a sense of reality
  • Fear of uncontrollably harming oneself
  • Fear of being alone
  • Fear of germs, infection or contamination

Thoughts associated with anxiety

  • Difficulty focusing or concentrating
  • Feeling that one is in a non-reality
  • Brain fog or Deja Vu
  • Depersonalization 
  • Feeling disorientated
  • Constant feeling of overwhelm
  • Obsession about physical health or sensations
  • Repetitive thinking/rumination
  • Desensitization
  • Difficulty with short term memory or learning
  • Crying for no apparent reason
  • Not caring about things once important
  • Feeling detached from loved ones or emotionally numb  
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Mood swings


Living with severe chronic anxiety can lead to feeling desperate and hopeless about one’s life.  Misunderstanding anxiety disorders or lacking knowledge about mental health treatment, stress and triggers prevents many from seeking the help they need. Enduring an anxiety disorder without treatment can prolong daily suffering.  Research indicates that the most effective treatment plan for chronic anxiety is a combination of mental health treatment and medication.  Medication may help with physical symptoms and/or a chemical imbalance; mental health professionals can assist with strategies to change faulty thinking patterns, reduce stress, and identify triggers that contribute to anxiety disorders. 

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