Physical anxiety

The Top 9 Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety To Be Aware Of


Profile pic

Written by Emma Reliason

B.A. - Psychologist

21 Jul, 2022

Anxiety can feel overwhelming and debilitating to deal with on a daily basis. With 2.71 million Australians experiencing anxiety every year, it’s important to talk about the signs and symptoms so you can determine if you may need professional help.

As with many other mental disorders, anxiety doesn’t often stay within the confines of your brain. Anxiety manifests itself in your everyday life, impacting your physical health, as well as your behaviours, relationships, and careers.

When we experience physical symptoms of anxiety, this can exacerbate the emotional side of it as well.

As discouraging as anxiety may feel, it’s a mental illness that is highly treatable. Recognising your signs and symptoms is the first step to overcoming this disorder and living a happier, healthier life.

Defining ‘Anxiety’

Before we jump into the signs and symptoms of anxiety, let’s define the term ‘anxiety’ first.

Worrying, feeling sad, and experiencing stress are all part of the human experience. But, when those worries become nonstop, or those feelings of stress become too much to bear, you may be experiencing anxiety.

Anxiety is both a mental and physical response to either real or perceived threats. You may feel as if you’re constantly expecting the worst to happen, or may have a difficult time relaxing and enjoying the current moment. Anxiety causes many individuals to spend large portions of their day managing intrusive thoughts and balancing out feelings of dread, fear, or general uneasiness.

What Causes Anxiety?

The root cause of anxiety differs from person to person. Each individual has their own unique reason anxiety has developed, however most experience similar symptoms regardless of their origin.

A few causes of anxiety include:

  • Genetics: A family history of anxiety disorder can make an individual more likely to experience the same mental illness.

  • Stressful Situations: A buildup of stressful situations over time can increase hormones known to cause anxiety disorder.

  • Underlying Health Issues: Heart disease, thyroid problems, diabetes, and respiratory conditions have all been known to cause anxiety disorders.

  • Tumours: Some tumours produce higher amounts of the hormone known to cause our “fight or flight” response.

Symptoms Of Anxiety:

Anxiety affects both the body and the mind. If you suffer from anxiety, it’s likely you experience both physical and mental symptoms. While many physical signs are often chalked up to something else, it’s important to take a hard look at when these symptoms occur.

Physical Symptoms Of Anxiety:

  1. Panic Attacks: Sudden, intense feelings of fear. Your heart may start racing, you may experience chest pains, and you may feel as though you’re dying. Panic attacks come on often unannounced and can be terrifying to deal with. We have prepared a guide on how to survive a panic attack.

  2. Shortness Of Breath: From an evolutionary standpoint, our bodies are hardwired to respond to danger using our fight or flight response. Since this response is triggered in individuals with anxiety, you may begin to breathe faster as your body aims to send more oxygen to your muscles.

  3. Dizziness: When you feel anxious, you may begin to take quick, deep breaths. This lowers the amount of carbon dioxide in your bloodstream, making you feel dizzy or lightheaded.

  4. Sweating: Anxiety triggers the body's stress response, causing the nervous system to pump adrenaline, thus activating sweat glands.

  5. Sleeping Problems: Chronic high levels of stress hormones, especially at night time, can make it incredibly difficult for your body to relax and fall asleep. Read up on sleeping issues here.

  6. Stomach Aches: Anxiety causes a release of hormones and neurotransmitters in the body, causing a host of intestinal issues. These issues slow digestion and impair the stomach's ability to process food quickly, causing stomach aches.

  7. ‘Pins and Needles’: During periods of anxiety, our blood vessels constrict, increasing heart rate and skyrocketing our blood pressure. When this happens, blood flow to certain body parts is constricted, causing numbness, tingling, or ‘pins and needles' sensations.

  8. Trembling: When our bodies come in perceived contact with a stressor, our muscles become primed to act in order to protect us from danger, leading to twitching, or trembling feelings.

  9. Dry Mouth: Anxiety can cause physical reactions to take place, such as the removal of bodily fluids from our mouths, to other parts of our body. When we feel like we’re under attack, our bodies will take all necessary steps to ensure the muscles we need to fight are well hydrated.

Other Symptoms Of Anxiety:

Emotional symptoms of anxiety are just as prevalent as physical symptoms. These symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Feeling nervous or restless

  • Feeling tense

  • Feeling a sense of impending danger or doom

  • A general feeling of uneasiness

  • Increase alertness

  • Irritability

  • Feeling on edge

If you feel like you’re experiencing any of these emotional symptoms of anxiety, as well as suffering daily from the physical symptoms, it may be time to contact a mental health professional. Anxiety can impact every aspect of your life if left untreated. Just remember, you don’t have to battle the war against anxiety alone. We have prepared plenty of tips and articles to teach you how to deal with anxiety if you wish to learn more.


Anxiety Therapists Available Now

Michael Hines


674 Sessions




674 Sessions

Hi, I'm an experienced Psychologist with a passion for helping people function at their best. I provide evidence-based psychological treatment to help people traverse and...More

Sally Walsh


189 Sessions




189 Sessions

Professional Excellence and Authentic Care for over 10 years. Opened during April school holiday and Anzac, so get in touch if you need support. Are you overwhelmed, an...More

Shey Cooper


79 Sessions




79 Sessions

Hi, I am a registered psychologist, and I offer both face-to-face and telehealth therapy sessions in Melbourne and remotely throughout Australia. I support individuals wi...More

Jo Crothers


163 Sessions




163 Sessions

Hello, I am a qualified and experienced Mental Health Counsellor, EMDR practitioner and Clinical Hypnotherapist, specialising in working with people who have experienced ...More

Profile pic

Emma Reliason

B.A. - Psychologist

Emma is an accomplished writer with a passion for mental health. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology where she gained insight into why people think, feel and behave the way they do.

Book a Therapy Session Today

Find a therapist and book your session online

Browse Therapists