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Dr Muffazal Rawala

Author: Dr Muffazal RawalaConsultant Adult Psychiatrist

The symptoms of anxiety include physical, behavioural and emotional and will be different for every person. Anxiety symptoms often change over time and may become more severe if left untreated.

What are the symptoms of anxiety?

Physical, emotional and behavioural symptoms of anxiety will vary between individuals but on the whole, most people will experience some degree of physical distress due to their anxiety disorder – it is our bodies way of telling us something is wrong.

People suffering from anxiety disorders often experience irritability, dizziness, nervousness and could have problems with sleep and their mood. They may also have palpitations, get breathless, sweaty, shake and have nausea and diarrhoea.

Having an anxiety disorder may mean someone will do everything in their power to avoid any chance of confrontation, or may worry excessively about failure and being ‘not good enough’. It’s very common for people with an anxiety disorder to become socially isolated, cancelling plans to socialise as they may assume no one wants to talk to them or they simply don’t have the energy to engage with others.

Although often not understandable to someone who doesn’t have anxiety, a person with anxiety will experience very real and often debilitating symptoms and distress that can dramatically affect their quality of life.

Physical symptoms of anxiety

The physical symptoms of anxiety disorders can be very worrying, especially if they come on for no obvious reason. They include:

  • Heart palpitations
  • Increased heart rate
  • Breathlessness
  • Muscle tension
  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Grinding teeth at night
  • Stomach complaints
  • Numbness
  • Weakness in legs
  • Tightness in chest

People with anxiety are quicker to perceive changes in facial expressions than those without anxiety, but with less accuracy

Emotional Symptoms of anxiety

Having an anxiety disorder can mean you react emotionally in ways that seem out of your normal character or even seem counter intuitive.

It’s important to remember that people with an anxiety disorder spend much of their time in a heightened state of awareness, which can be emotional and physically exhausting.

  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Feeling tense and on edge
  • Intolerance for noise or bright lights
  • Loss of appetite
  • Sleeping difficulties (waking up very early, finding it hard to switch off)
  • Low self-esteem and low self confidence
  • Feeling lonely or isolated

Every contact I have made with Clinical Partners has been caring and compassionate. The consultation has helped me to understand the many issues I have struggled with for years.

Sarah, Southampton

Behavioural symptoms of anxiety

When you are feeling very anxious or if you have an anxiety disorder like a phobia or panic attacks – it is likely you won’t be able to do all the things you might wish you could. Sometimes, our anxiety disorders can make things worse as we shy away from certain situations, which can further compound our negative associations.

  • Becoming socially withdrawn
  • Avoiding certain situations
  • Working extra hard
  • Checking and double-checking things
  • Nervous energy
  • Finding it hard to switch off or relax

Cognitive symptoms of anxiety

Depending on the anxiety disorder you have, you may have a range of different thoughts, which can include:

  • Intense fear that something will go wrong
  • Rigid thinking
  • Feeling overwhelmed by even small things
  • A sense of just not being able to cope
  • Intense worry you have done something wrong
  • Feeling you are going crazy
  • Easily distracted
  • Racing thoughts
  • Memory loss
  • Mental ‘chatter’

Anxiety can stop people leading the lives they want.
Dr Muffazal Rawala

Consultant Adult Psychiatrist

Dr Muffazal Rawala is an experienced NHS Consultant Psychiatrist, currently working for East London NHS Foundation Trust. He has a Medical Degree, a Masters in Transcultural Mental Health, has a postgraduate certificate in Psychopharmacology and is a...


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