In the 12 months of 2017 and 2018, 3.2 million Australians (13.1%) had an anxiety-related condition. Yet, if we asked each one of those 3.2 million Australians to describe their symptoms of anxiety, we’d receive 3.2 million different responses. That’s because anxiety feels different for everyone. No two people will experience an identical set of symptoms, and similar symptoms will play out differently for every person. Whether it’s a pounding heartbeat, trembling body, or tightening of the chest, the key to diagnosing anxiety is recognising the symptoms when they arise.

So, let’s find out; what does anxiety feel like? And what are the signs and symptoms of anxiety to look out for?

What does anxiety feel like?

When you come down with a symptomatic combo of a fever, sniffly nose, and drowsiness, chances are you have a common cold or flu. That’s because the flu has a set of textbook symptoms. They’re easy to diagnose, they feel relatively similar for every person who experiences them, and that makes them reasonably easy to treat. Comparatively, anxiety is not so textbook. Anxiety feels different for everyone and can vary in severity and symptoms depending on the type of anxiety someone is experiencing. Thus, making it a harder condition to pinpoint and treat.

One person may describe their anxiety like a stabbing knife in their chest. Another may feel their anxiety is like a cloud of negativity following their every move. Anxiety can feel like there’s a tornado in your mind, sending thoughts spiralling out of control. Or anxiety can take on the traits of an earthquake, removing your stability, making you feel unsafe and insecure. Anxiety can make you feel like you’re not yourself or like you don’t know how you feel. And that’s okay; that’s anxiety.

On a personal level, the best way to move forward with anxiety is to learn how to recognise the symptoms of YOUR anxiety and how they make you feel. Learn what triggers YOUR anxiety, so you’re aware of when to take steps to treat and manage it.

What are the signs and symptoms of anxiety?

Common physical symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Pins and needles sensations
  • Feeling restless or unable to sit still
  • Headaches
  • Quickened breathing
  • A churning feeling in your stomach
  • Hot flushes or sweating
  • An accelerated or irregular heartbeat
  • Sleeping problems
  • Changes in your sex drive
  • Panic attacks

Common emotional symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Low mood and depression
  • Low energy
  • Feeling tense, nervous or unable to relax
  • Fearing the worst
  • Feeling like the world is speeding up or slowing down
  • Feeling like you can’t stop worrying
  • Thinking worst-case scenario
  • Feeling disconnected from yourself or the world around you
  • Repetitive thinking on a specific situation
  • Worrying about having a panic attach
  • Wanting lots of reassurance from other people or worrying other people will be upset with you

If you are familiar with several of these symptoms and concerned about the prospect of having an anxiety disorder, make an appointment with your trusted healthcare professional.

This guide is designed to be informative and educational. It is not intended to provide specific medical advice or replace advice from your medical practitioner.