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.

Person stretching with dog

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. 

Behaviour

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

I… began skipping social events and spent a lot of time alone. After school I studied by myself in the library or locked away in my room. My parents thought I was just shy. But it wasn’t that I didn’t want to go out. It was because I experienced intense anxiety in social situations.

Read Catriona’s story of anxiety

Feelings

Anxiety can make you feel:

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

Thoughts

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 mental health check-in 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 tool which asks you 10 questions about the feelings you’ve been having over the past 4 weeks. It’s sometimes called the “K10” and is widely used by GPs and mental health professionals.

Mental health check-in

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.

Read more

"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.

Read more

References 

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