Typical Symptoms of Anxiety

The symptoms of anxiety can be broadly broken up into three categories, physical, psychological and behavioural.

Physical symptoms of anxiety

Anxiety brings physical sensations with it that can feel incredibly uncomfortable, and even make you feel more anxious. It is important to know that these feelings cannot and will not cause any harm, no matter how quickly they come on or how serious they feel.

  • Butterflies in stomach, churning, feeling sick.
  • Fast, thumping heart.
  • Palpitations.
  • Rapid breathing (hyperventilation).
  • Ringing in the ears.
  • Dry mouth and tight throat.
  • Weakness in legs/feels like jelly.
  • Headache/dizziness/blurred vision.
  • Tense muscles.
  • Pins & needles.
  • Trembling/Shaking.

Psychological symptoms of anxiety

It can be common for feelings of panic to occur from time to time. This can affect everybody slightly differently, but usually includes feelings that something bad is going to happen. Panic attacks are not dangerous and are not a sign of serious mental or physical illness. It is just a fight or flight response occurring in a way that feels uncomfortable.

  • Fear
  • Panic or Terror
  • Distress
  • Uncertainty 
  • Embarrassment  
  • Irritability 
  • Anger
  • Excitement 
  • Distress
  • Loss of control

Behavioural symptoms of anxiety

When experiencing panic or anxiety, people can behave in ways that they would not normally. These behaviours can include:

  • Agitation or restlessness
  • Pacing
  • Verbal physical aggression
  • Safety behaviours – avoiding people, places or situations
  • Staying in or needing someone with you in certain situations
  • Paranoia / jumping to negative conclusions
  • Fear of losing control
  • Disturbed sleep / insomnia
  • Noise intolerance
  • Difficulty concentrating 
  • Using unhelpful coping strategies – smoking, drinking drugs, biting nails

The Anxiety Cycle


  • An extreme form of fear… in an ordinary situation
  • The longer you are anxious, the more hypervigilant you become
  • The body’s normal fear reaction becomes oversensitive and is then triggered in ‘normal situations
  • Anytime you feel slightly worried this will trigger the body’s normal fear reaction

REMEMBER – panic attacks are not dangerous

RECOGNISE – your symptoms

UNDERSTAND – what causes it and what keeps it going.

ACCEPT – the feelings are not harmful and do not indicate anything is seriously wrong

LEARN – techniques and coping strategies

Once you understand what is going on, half the battle is won!

Rules for Coping with Panic

  1. Panic is a normal reaction to fear that is exaggerated.  It is not dangerous.
  2. Symptoms are not harmful.  Nothing bad will happen.  The feelings will pass.
  3. Acknowledge what is happening to your body and try to relax and stay in the present moment.
  4. Only think about now.  Thinking about what might or could happen is unhelpful.
  5. Accept the feelings.
  6. Monitor the level of anxiety (0-10) and watch it come down.
  7. Stay in the situation.  Avoid running away, avoiding it or escaping as this will make it more difficult in the future.
  8. Take deep breathes.  Say or visualise the word calm.
  9. Relax tense muscles.  Feel yourself relaxing. Drop your shoulders.
  10. Concentration what you were doing before.

Anxiety Resources