In this article we’ll look at the symptoms and different types of anxiety.


This article has been medically approved by Pharmacist Sumaiya Patel - GPhC Reg No: 2215078

Anxiety can affect us all in different ways and at different times. There are many different types of anxiety, although some are less well known than others. Read our article below for more information on the symptoms of anxiety, as well as the different types.

What is Anxiety?

Stress and anxiety can sometimes become confused and, while it is true that stress can cause anxiety, they aren’t the same thing. Whereas stress is something that will come and go as the external factor causing it comes and goes, anxiety is something that can persist whether or not the cause is clear.

What causes anxiety?

You may have heard the phrase ‘fight or flight’. This response is passed down to us from our days as cavemen, as it would protect us from danger in the wild. A boost of adrenaline causes us to become super alert while also increasing the heart rate and the amount of oxygen going to our limbs. This means we are more prepared to either fight the danger or run away from it. Butterflies in the stomach can be a sign of this mechanism kicking in. Anxiety is caused when this response is wrongfully triggered during normal situations.

Some people are able to identify a cause for their anxiety, which could be a traumatic incident, lots of stressors, or having undergone a significant life event like moving house, getting divorced, or having surgery. However, others may not be able to find the cause of their anxiety.

Different Anxiety Conditions

Anxiety can be linked to a range of different conditions, including:

  • Agoraphobia
  • Anticipatory Anxiety
  • Body Dysmorphic Disorder
  • Claustrophobia
  • Compulsive Skin Picking
  • Dental Phobia
  • Depersonalisation Disorder
  • Emetophobia
  • Fear of Flying
  • Generalised Anxiety Disorder
  • Health Anxiety
  • Hoarding
  • Injection Phobia
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Panic Disorder
  • Phobias
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Postnatal Anxiety
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • Separation Anxiety
  • Social Anxiety/Social Phobia
  • Stress
  • Toilet Phobia
  • Trichotillomania

Symptoms of Anxiety

People often experience physical, psychological, and behavioural symptoms when they feel anxious.

Common physical symptoms

  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased muscle tension
  • “Jelly legs”
  • Tingling in the hands and feet
  • Hyperventilation (over breathing)
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty in breathing
  • Wanting to use the toilet more often
  • Feeling sick
  • Tight band across the chest area
  • Tension headaches
  • Hot flushes
  • Increased perspiration
  • Dry mouth
  • Shaking
  • Choking sensations
  • Palpitations

Common psychological symptoms

  • Thinking that you may lose control and/or go “mad”
  • Thinking that you might die
  • Thinking that you may have a heart attack/be sick/faint/have a brain tumour
  • Feeling that people are looking at you and observing your anxiety
  • Feeling as though things are speeding up/slowing down
  • Feeling detached from your environment and the people in it
  • Feeling like wanting to run away/escape from the situation
  • Feeling on edge and alert to everything around you

Common behavioural symptoms

The most common behavioural symptom is avoidance. Avoiding an anxiety provoking situation provides immediate relief from the anxious feelings, but it is only a short-term solution. The next time you encounter the same situation, this anxiety will return. As well as this, avoiding the situation will psychologically reinforce the message that you should be afraid.

More Information

For more information, check out our articles on Self-Managing Anxiety and Treatments for Anxiety.