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Hi, my name is Caitlyn Patey. I’m a Licensed Clinical Social Worker at Thriveworks in Chesterfield, Virginia. The question I’ll be answering today is, “What are the symptoms of anxiety?”
So to start with, it’s important to note that anxiety can manifest itself in a lot of different ways. Some people experience more physical symptoms, others experience more psychological symptoms, and plenty of people experience a little bit of both.
So to start with, let’s talk about the physical symptoms. If you’re feeling anxious, you might find that your body temperature changes. So this could mean maybe you get chills all of the sudden, or your body temperature starts to rise, maybe start to sweat. Some people experience physical shaking as well, especially in like your hands or your legs. Those might start shaking. Or rapid breathing can feel like you’re hyperventilating or an increased heart rate like your heart is racing.
Another thing that can happen with anxiety is appetite changes. So maybe you find that you’re not as hungry as usual or that you’re experiencing some GI issues. Maybe your stomach hurts. The other physical symptom that can come with anxiety is fatigue. So that can happen for a few different reasons. When you’re anxious, your body can feel more tense, your muscles get more tense, and then they can stay more tense while you’re anxious.
A lot of times this happens without us even realizing it until after the fact. But that takes a lot out of us and that makes us tired. And that increases that chance of feeling fatigued. But then also with anxiety, sometimes your sleep is disrupted as well. Maybe you have a harder time falling asleep or staying asleep. So both of those things can contribute to that feeling of feeling fatigued.
Some of the psychological symptoms that come with anxiety to start with is excessive worrying. So maybe you’re finding that you’re worrying a lot more often or you’re having a harder time controlling the worry or distracting yourself from the worry. Maybe it feels like it’s just running through a cycle in your head and your mind is racing. So that’s definitely a symptom of anxiety.
Another psychological symptom is irritability. So this could mean that maybe you find you’re more annoyed with people than usual or you’re snapping at people more often, or you just feel more irritable and upset throughout the day. You could also feel restless or feeling on edge, kind of agitated, like you need to be up and moving and getting things done, or feeling like you’re having a hard time relaxing or de-stressing. All of those things can also lead to another symptom of anxiety, which is difficulty focusing or concentrating.
If you think about it, if all those things are going on, if you’re experiencing the physical symptoms or you’re experiencing the mental symptoms or a little bit of both, all of that is going to make it hard to concentrate and focus on what you’re trying to do. So those are some of the common symptoms of anxiety.
Again, this can look different for every person in terms of which ones you experience. So what do you do with that? Once you notice that you have those symptoms, once you recognize them, what do you do with them?
I’d like today to just give you a couple of quick techniques that can help in the moment and then talk about longer term what’s helpful. So in the moment it’s helpful to bring ourselves back to the present. So if you think about it, anytime you’ve been anxious, it’s typically about something that’s already happened or something that you’re worried about possibly happening in the future.
Anxiety can’t really thrive in the present. It doesn’t really know what to do. So a helpful way to cope is finding ways to bring yourself back to the present moment. One of my favorite ways to do that is a grounding technique. It’s called the five, four, three, two, one technique. It’s really easy. You can do it all in your head so you can do it anywhere you are.
And it starts with just connecting with your senses so you in whatever space you’re in, if you’re in your bedroom, if you’re in outside, if you’re in school, if you’re at work, whatever the situation is, recognizing five things that you can see in whatever space you’re in for things that you can hear. Three things that you can feel, two things that you can smell and one thing that you can taste.
The last one is hard to do if you’re not eating in that moment. So sometimes it’s helpful instead to think of something that makes you really happy or that’s really calming to you or something that you feel really grateful for. Another helpful technique that’s really easy and quick to do is a breathing technique. It’s called four, seven eight breathing. So all you have to do is inhale for four seconds, hold it for seven, and exhale for eight seconds.
Both of those you can do over and over again as many times as it feels helpful. But the other thing about anxiety is that sometimes you need some extra support in managing it. So maybe that means that you reach out to a therapist. Therapists and clinicians are trained to help you understand and manage and cope with your anxiety so that all of those symptoms you’re experiencing are decreased.
Um so there’s nothing wrong with reaching out for some extra support if you’re feeling like the, the anxiety symptoms or the worries is out of what you’re able to cope with on your own. So I hope this has been helpful. Thank you so much for listening and have a great day.