The hidden physical symptoms of anxiety
While anxiety and panic are considered mental health conditions, there are many physical symptoms that go hand in hand with them.
For a few years now, I've suffered with increased anxiety and panic. It's something that isn't very 'me' – I'm very laid-back, relatively organised and reliable in high stress situations.
It was only when I attended a course by Mind (a fantastic mental health charity) that I recognised many of the symptoms in myself. Since then, I have been learning to tackle the problems I face, with a mix of good days and bad days - but, on the whole, better days.
Some common but less-recognised symptoms
Here are some of the most common physical symptoms of anxiety by body part, all of which are natural bodily responses to an apparent impending threat. Sufferers may have one symptom, multiple symptoms or none at all, but it's important to know what to look out for.
- Headaches or tension
- Dizziness, vertigo or lightheaded sensations
- Inability to listen or concentrate
- General disinterest
- Fluttery butterfly-like sensations
- Knotting, cramping or bloating sensations
- Loss of appetite, or increased appetite
- Achey or tired muscles
- Heaviness or lightness in your legs
- Fidgety behaviour (not sitting still)
- Hot flushes or itchiness
- Sweating (from anywhere - palms, pits, whatever)
- Shortness of breath
- Quick, shallow breathing
- An increased heart rate (faster beating)
- Palpitations (unusually strong beats)
- Toilet troubles of the rear end
- Decrease in sex drive
- Feeling like you need to wee more often
- Unsettled sleep
- Frequent nightmares or vivid dreams
- Lethargy in the day
- Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or getting up
- Overheating in your sleep
Advice from Anxiety UK
"By recognising that your symptoms are a result of feelings of anxiety, it can be a really valuable step in helping you begin to be able to manage them... Next time you are experiencing anxiety or panic and find yourself with any of the above physical symptoms, reassure yourself that these are completely normal and experienced by many others."
An important note
If you recognise any of them in yourself, or have concerns about your mental health, please please please seek medical help from your GP or a mental health organisation.
It can change your life.