Signs and symptoms of anxiety

We all feel anxious sometimes, it’s a normal part of life. If your anxious feelings start to impact your quality of life and day-to-day functioning, it can be a sign of an anxiety condition. 

On this page we explain the signs and symptoms of anxiety conditions to look out for.

When to seek support for anxiety

The symptoms of anxiety conditions can appear suddenly or develop slowly over time. This sometimes makes it hard to notice.

If you recognise these signs or symptoms in yourself or someone close to you, we’ll also help you find the support you need.

What does an anxiety condition feel like? 

Anxious feelings usually go away in a short period of time. They might be connected to a stressful situation or event, such as a job interview, exam or moving house.

With an anxiety condition, the anxiety is more frequent or doesn’t go away. It’s not always connected to an obvious challenge and it makes it hard to complete everyday activities. 

There are several different anxiety conditions and each has its own unique symptoms. We’ve listed some common symptoms on this page you can use as a guide.  

A GP (doctor), psychologist or psychiatrist can assess whether you have an anxiety condition. 


Anxiety can lead to you avoiding situations that make you feel anxious. This can impact on study, work, your relationships and everyday activities.


Anxiety can make you feel:

  • excessive fear
  • restless
  • tense, wound up and edgy.


Anxiety can cause:

  • worrying
  • obsessive thinking
  • catastrophising. 

Physical symptoms

Anxiety affects your body in different ways. Physical symptoms of anxiety can include:

  • panic attacks 
  • hot and cold flushes 
  • racing heart 
  • tightening of the chest 
  • quick breathing or shortness of breath 
  • difficulty sleeping 
  • headaches. 
I’d get pins and needles and start trembling. I’d clench my jaw. I’d struggle to breathe, as though a tight band was wrapped around my ribs.

Read Milli’s journey with anxiety


Do I have anxiety or am I just feeling anxious?

You may be feeling unsure about whether you should seek support.

Our anonymous Anxiety and Depression Test (K10) can help you understand whether your anxious feelings are the kind of worries that will go away on their own, or whether it’s time to get more support to help you feel better.

It’s an evidence-based test that asks 10 questions about how you've been feeling over the past 4 weeks. Australian doctors and mental health professionals use this test, known as the K10. They sometimes ask you to take the K10 and talk about it with you.

Start the K10 test

Supporting someone else

If you’re worried about someone close to you, there are things you can do to support them. 

Journey to recovery - personal stories

If you have an anxiety condition, you’re not alone.  

Learn what anxiety feels like and how it can be managed.

Read and watch more personal stories about anxiety

I used to run from my anxiety, today I run with it – Catriona’s story

Catriona Bisset is an Olympian and the Australian record holder over 800m. But for a decade, she left the sport she loved.

"I thought I could outsmart my anxiety" – Colin's story

Colin shares his journey with anxiety, from trying to outsmart his condition to learning to live with it.


Beyond Blue uses statistics from trusted references and research. For a full list of references for all statistics quoted on our website, please visit Statistics