Signs and Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder

The symptoms of anxiety disorder are sometimes ignored as they gradually develop over time. Everyone has experienced anxiety so it is often difficult to tell how much anxiety is too much?

Here we provide a checklist of symptoms of social anxiety, anxiety attacks, or symptoms other anxiety disorders. They are a quick and easy comparison to some of the symptoms of anxiety disorders but are not to be used as a diagnosis - please see your doctor or psychologist for that.

About 40 million Americans are affected by anxiety disorders each year. This makes these disorders the most common emotional disorder.

Here we discuss some of the:

  • common symptoms of anxiety disorders
  • symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder
  • symptoms of panic attacks and panic disorder
  • symptoms of social anxiety disorder
  • symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder


Common symptoms of anxiety disorders

There are may different types of anxiety-based disorders that range from panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, phobias, post traumatic stress, and generalized anxiety disorder.

Typically many of the symptoms of anxiety disorders include:

  • overwhelming feelings of fear and panic
  • catastrophic or uncontrollable thoughts
  • physical symptoms such as a racing heart, rapid breathing, or increased muscle tension

Anxiety disorders can be debilitating for the sufferer, impacting on their life and happiness.

If left untreated these disorders can force people to avoid certain situations, increase the incidence of anxiety depression symptoms, and lead people into alcohol abuse to seek relief from their symptoms of anxiety.

There are a number of options for treating anxiety disorders. Some of these include:

People who suffer from anxiety also can also suffer from poorer relationships, have reduced work or school performance, and an overall decrease in happiness. So it is important to be aware of the warning signs and symptoms of anxiety and put in strategies to beat anxiety.

Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder

All of us worry from time to time. But there is a difference between normal worrying and the worrying that a person with generalized anxiety disorder experiences.

Some of these differences include:


Normal Worry

  • Able to control your worry
  • Worry for short periods of time

  • Worry about specific things

  • Worries, while unpleasant, do not cause significant distress

Generalized anxiety disorder

  • Not able to control your worry
  • Worry for more days than not over the last 6 months
  • Tend to worry about all sorts of things
  • Worries interfere with life, daily functioning and sleep patterns

In addition to these symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder the person also experiences three or more of the following symptoms for more days than not in the last 6 months:

  • has difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, or restless and unsatisfying sleep

  • irritability
  • is easily fatigued
  • has difficulty concentrating or mind goes blank
  • excess muscle tension
  • restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge.

Symptoms of anxiety attacks

This assessment is not designed to make a diagnosis, or take the place of a professional diagnosis; however, it is a way for you to gain some clarity around your anxiety attacks.

As you read each of the following, click the button beside each question that relates to your cognitive or somatic experience.

Within a 10 minute period have you felt FOUR OR MORE of the following:

palpitations, pounding heart, or accelerated heart rate
sweating
trembling or shaking
sensations of shortness of breath or smothering
feeling of choking
chest pain or discomfort
nausea or abdominal distress
feeling dizzy, unsteady, lightheaded, or faint
derealization (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself)
fear of losing control or going crazy
fear of dying
paresthesias (numbness or tingling sensations)
chills or hot flushes

If you have felt 4 or more of these symptoms in a discrete period then this is a criteria for panic attack (APA, 1994).

Anxiety attack symptoms may be the consequence of physical illness or medications so it is important to have your doctor rule these out.

Similarly anxiety attacks may occur in the context of other anxiety or medical disorders.

For example, panic attacks may:

  • occur unexpectedly as with a panic disorder
  • be cued by the situation
  • be situationally predisposed

The context of a panic attack is important for the determining the differential diagnosis (DSM - IV).

Symptoms social anxiety disorder

Do you get nervous in front of people?

Are you shy from time to time?

Most people experience some form of apprehension from time to time but this is not social anxiety disorder!

People with social anxiety disorder (or social phobia) have an excessive fear of situations in which embarrassment may occur.

The intense fear and anxiety of the social situation, whether it is school, work, or other activities, leads to avoidance and hampers daily living.

There are a number of physical and emotional symptoms of social anxiety disorder. Some of these include:


  • tremors
  • palpitations
  • sweating
  • gastrointestinal discomfort
  • hot or cold flashes
  • excess muscle tension


  • feeling of confusion and self-doubt
  • negative thoughts such as "People think I am stupid"
  • an urge to flee from the situation
  • knowledge that these feelings are irrational

People with symptoms of social anxiety disorder also have difficulty concentrating or focusing on anything other than the physical symptoms of anxiety or the negative thoughts or feedback from others.

Symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder

There is stress and then there is STRESS!

Those who suffer from post traumatic stress disorder symptoms typically have experienced or witnessed a terrifying ordeal in which they felt helpless in the face of the fear and horror.

Post traumatic stress disorder symptoms typically appear within three months of the trauma and include symptoms such as:

  • intrusion. A person who experience post traumatic stress disorder may have flashbacks in which the relive their nightmares.
  • avoidance. This may be characterized by closing down and disconnecting from family and friends, avoid situations that remind them of the event, or numbing feelings through alcohol and drugs.
  • hyperarousal. Here the PTSD sufferer is on high alert and may become irritable or angry.

Search here for more information on symptoms of anxiety disorder

Related anxiety articles

obsessive compulsive disorder Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD Symptoms and Treatment

10 most common phobias 10 Most Common Phobias

The Most Common Phobias


More anxiety articles

Anxiety Help: Professional Online Counselors for Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety and Depression Treatment: Treating the Twin Towers of Mental Disorders



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