What are the Physical Symptoms of Anxiety?

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  • Written By: S. Ashraf
  • Edited By: A. Joseph
  • Last Modified Date: 04 December 2018
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Anxiety is a normal emotion felt by most people, whether children or adults, at some time. Feelings of anxiety are related to anticipating a threat or danger; the mind and body experience the threat as though it is really happening. Every person experiences this emotion differently and, because of this, the physical symptoms of anxiety are many and varied. Among the more common physical symptoms of anxiety that people experience are sweating, heart palpitations, headaches, muscle tension and upset stomach as well as diarrhea or frequent urination.

The physical symptoms of anxiety are caused by biochemical changes that affect not only the brain and nervous system but many other systems in the body. Sweating is natural if you are hot or have been exercising. Anxiety, though, is an emotional response that tells the brain to produce hormones that cause an individual to sweat. Heart palpitations, also brought about by strong emotions like anxiety, make one feel like his or her heart is pounding or beating very fast and might be felt in the neck and throat as well as the chest.

At times, symptoms such as sweating or heart palpitations might be accompanied by feelings of dizziness. Sensations of dizziness or lightheadedness, either alone or along with other symptoms, can be frequently experienced physical symptoms of anxiety. It might seem as though it is hard to stay balanced while either sitting or standing.


Headaches and muscle tension are sometimes experienced together during a period of anxiety. An individual feeling anxious will often hold his or her body somewhat stiffly or rigidly. This might, in turn, lead to a stress headache as well as tense muscles in the jaw, neck, shoulders or back. Pains might also be felt in the abdominal area.

It is possible for the digestive system to be affected by anxious thoughts or feelings. In some individuals, the brain responds to anxiety by triggering feelings of nausea and, sometimes, vomiting. For many people, a common response by the digestive system to anxiety might also be either constipation or diarrhea.

Shaking or trembling can also be caused by anxiety. Some people might experience shaky extremities such as the legs, arms and hands. Others, though, will feel the whole body tremble.

Some individuals have mild responses to anxiety, and others react more intensely. If someone has symptoms that seem to be anxiety related, it is advisable to see a doctor to rule out other undiagnosed medical problems. A variety of treatments are available, and individuals suffering from the physical symptoms of anxiety can get significant relief.



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