The purpose of this page is to discuss some of the possible mental and physical symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks. Please note however, that this is not an exclusive list, so do not be frightened if you experience any scary symptoms that are not listed below, as chances are that whatever symptoms you are experiencing are being caused by your anxiety.
In this regard it must be noted that all symptoms of anxiety, regardless of how unpleasant they may feel, are totally harmless and that anxiety is a curable condition. We have found that the Linden Method is the most effective way of achieving this. The method is guarantee for a whole year after purchase, although notwithstanding such a solid guarantee only 1.2% of the thousands of purchasers every year claim a refund, which is testament to the effectiveness of the Linden Method.
- Smothering Sensations And Shortness of Breath
- Rapid Heart Beat & Heart Palpitations
- Brain Zaps or Electric Shock Feelings in the Body
- Fears of Going Mad or Losing Control
- Aggression and Frustration
- Paling of the Skin (blanching)
- Shaking or Shivering
- Neck and Shoulder Pain and Numbness in the Face and Head
- Rapid Gastric Emptying
- Indigestion, Heartburn, Constipation and Diarrhea
- Sexual Dysfunction
- Skin Rashes
- Weakness in Arms and Tingling Sensations in Hands and Feet
- Dry Mouth
- Sore Eyes
- Creeping or Pins and Needles Sensations in the Skin
- Increased Sensitivity to Light, Touch and Sound
- Involuntray Limb Movements and Twitches
- Derealisation and Depersonalisation
Smothering Sensations And Shortness of Breath
This is perhaps the symptom which is most commonly experienced by anxiety sufferers and can feel very distressing indeed. It may feel as if someone is pressing up against your chest and that your chest will not expand to allow you to draw a proper breath. This is just a sensation! It may feel as if you are not breathing correctly but you ARE. If you were not breathing correctly you would be unconscious! Do not give this sensation any credit, it will go away as will all other physcial symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks.
Rapid Heart Beat & Heart Palpitations
Anxiety causes adrenaline to be released into the blood stream, which causes the heart to race and may seem like it is occasionally missing a beat (palpitations). This is perfectly normal and just like any other of the physical symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks, totally harmless. You are NOT having a heart attack, you do NOT have a heart condition, you are just anxious so try to ignore these feelings.
Brain Zaps or Electric Shock Feelings in the Body
Also known as ‘brain zaps‘, ‘brain shivers’ or ‘head shocks’, head zaps feel as though the sufferer experiences a brief electric shock throughout the head, as if the head is being switched on like a light bulb. Although completely harmless as with all physical symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks, this symptom is extremely unpleasant and usually only occurs in times of very high anxiety. Do not let head zaps scare you, they will go away. It is also possible to experience this type of electric shock sensation anywhere else in the body. Some sufferers experience it in their arms and legs.
Insomnia is the inability to either fall asleep or to stay sleeping. A very distressing symptom as it may cause the sufferer to wake up very early in the night and not be able to get back to sleep. I suffered terrible insomnia prior to my recovery and would often not be able to sleep beyond 3:00am. If you experience insomnia from your anxiety, do not let it bother you and it is always advisable to avoid taking sleeping pills, which can make one feel tired and sick the next day. Don’t worry about not being able to fall asleep. It is a common misconception that the body ‘needs’ 8 hours of sleep per day, when in actual fact our bodies can operate fine with just a few hours. Ofcourse it is better to get between 6-8 hours but don’t let it bother you that you are getting less. It is only temporary. When your anxiety subsides you will fall back into a normal sleeping pattern.
Although strictly speaking not one of the physical symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks, nightmares can also be very distressing. Dreams and nightmares tend to mimic what is going on in our daily lives, but with a bizarre twist. If we feel happy, relaxed and contented we usualy have good dreams and tend not to remember them when we wake up. When we are feeling stressed and anxious, our dreams are likely to be unpleasant. Don’t let nightmares bother you. They are totally harmless and once you become more relaxed as your anxiety disappears your sleeping pattern and your dreams will get better and eventually return to normal.
Fears of Going Mad or Losing Control
When we are anxious and sleep deprived it is totally normal for our senses to become distorted and for the mind to play tricks on us. When I suffered from anxiety I was convinced on many occasions that I was going insane. I felt very lonely and confused. I also felt as if I didn’t love those close to me as much as I normally would. This is very normal for anxiety sufferers to experience. You are NOT going mad or insane, you are just anxious and tired. People who are mentally insane are not aware of their insanity and think they are completely normal.
Anxiety is a debilitating and distressing condition to live with and can make the sufferer feel very depressed, even to the point where they are so fed up they want to end their lives. It is important to understand that these thoughts and feelings are normal and are in the vast majority of cases NOT a sign of true clinical depression. Clinical depression is a real illness caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. However, anxiety can and often does, mimic the symptoms of depression. Do not get concerned that you are ill or clinically depressed! remove the underlying anxiety disorder and your depressed thoughts and physical symptoms of anxiety will simply disappear.
Muscle tensions in the neck and shoulders can cause immense discomforts in the head. Tension headaches, which make the sufferer feel as though there is a tight band around the head, are very common with anxiety sufferers. When I suffered from my disorder I had a constant headache for weeks on end. It was very disturbing and caused me to become more anxious as I thought there was something clinically wrong with my brain. Ofcourse nothing was wrong, I was just anxious. When I began to implement the Linden Method, my anxiety subsided and the headaches went away.
Anxiety is like a piece of electrical equipment that is badly wired. Our human bodies also operate through electrical impulses, which communicate different messages to different parts of the body. When we are anxious these impulses become confused and abnormal. Neurons are flying around our brains in a state of hyperactivity to send us a message that we are supposed to be scared and should prepare for fight or flight. These misfiring neurons can cause the person to feel dizzy or unsteady. I would feel these sensations for days on end prior to my recovery. The best way for me to describe it would be as more of a vertigo-like or unsteady feeling as opposed to the usual ’spinning’ kind of feeling we normally associate with dizziness. However, as I have noted before, anxiety is capable of creating any number of unpleasant physical symptoms of anxiety that are designed to scare you, so if you feel any kind of dizziness chances are your anxiety is responsible and you should ignore it. It will go away when you remove your anxiety disorder.
Aggression and Frustration
Anger and frustration is a very natural reaction to anxiety, which makes the sufferer feel tired, sad and scared. One of the main causes of true anger is actually sadness. When one thinks about times when they have been really angry, there will invariably be an underlying sadness that served as a catalyst for the anger. Aggression is also a normal reaction to fear. When we are scared, our body prepares itself, for physical violence if need be (fight or flight!). Try to relax, tell yourself that you are just anxious and that these angry moods are inappropriate.
Paling of the Skin (blanching)
This is caused by blood being diverted to the muscles during the ‘flight or fight’ response. When this happens the fine blood vessels in the skin that give it a healthy pinkish colour, receive reduced blood flow which causes the skin to lose colour and appear paler than usual. Often people with generalised anxiety disorder look pale most of the time. Again, this is quite normal and will return to normal once the sufferer has removed the anxiety disorder.
During periods of high anxiety the body prepares itself to either ‘fight’ or ‘fly’ and releases sweat to cool the pending exertions. Ofcourse, this is harmless and as the anxiety subsides, sweat levels will return to normal.
Shaking or Shivering
Shaking, especially of the hands, is experienced by just about everyone when they are very nervous or scared. Shaking occurs due to the muscles spasmodically contracting which creates friction between the muscles and other body tissues. This friction creates heat which causes a rise in body temperature. During anxiety it is quite normal to experience shaking or shivering. Don’t let these physical symptoms of anxiety bother you, they are normal and will go away!
Neck and Shoulder Pain and Numbness in the Face and Head
These symptoms can be both frightening and extremely uncomfortable. Around the time my anxiety disorder developed I would wake up in the morning feeling completely numb all over my head and face. This was very disturbing at first until I understood that it was just being caused by anxiety and that it was totally harmless and would go away. As with all physical symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks, to get permanent relief you must remove the anxiety disorder, but you can get temporary relief from tension/numbeness in the face and neck by firmly massaging the neck and shoulders. You can do this yourself, but it is often more effective if you get someone to do it for you.
Rapid Gastric Emptying
This condition causes the sufferer to feel full very early on in a meal and can sometimes make them feel as if they cannot breathe. Then soon after eating they experience diarrhea and feel as if their whole digestive system is emptying at a rapid rate. Avoiding spicy foods and not drinking large quantities of fluids during and immediately after meals helps the stomach to digest food properly.
Indigestion, Heartburn, Constipation and Diarrhea
During periods of high anxiety the body diverts blood from various parts of the body to the muscle tissues in order to supply them with the oxygen they need during the fight or flight response. The digestive tract is one of the areas where blood is used most. Blood is sent there to absorb nutrients from the food we eat. As blood is diverted away from the stomach during anxiety, the digestion slows and the muscles around the stomach can become knotted. This can cause indigestion, heartburn, diarrhea or constipation. Exercise and relaxation techniques are very effective at eliminating these symptoms.
Impotency, or failure to achieve or maintain an erection, is very common during high anxiety. In the context of anxiety there are two main reasons for lack of libido. Firstly, when someone is not feeling well they are not interested in sex. This is in part due to the fact that during the ‘fight or flight’ response the act of sex is not something which the body prepares for. Secondly, if the sufferer is on anxiety drugs, a very common side effect of these types of medication is lack of libido or sex drive.
Skin rashes, psoriasis, spots or dryness are all very common physical symptoms of anxiety and stress. It is common to get an eczema/psoriasis like rash around the nose, cheeks and foreheads. Many health shops sell natural emollient creams that are very effective at reducing itchy, dry skin conditions and itchy rashes on the body can be eased using calamine lotion.
Weakness in Arms and Tingling Sensations in Hands and Feet
The fight or flight response is an intense reaction and causes the central nervous system to become over-sensitised. Circulation, blood oxygen and blood carbon dioxide levels change and muscle tension is altered to prepare the body for action. These unpleasant physical symptoms of anxiety are quite normal and will pass.
As fluids are diverted for use in other parts of the body during anxiety, the mouth becomes dry. You can temporarily relieve the dryness by sipping water and sucking sweets. Once your anxiety subsides this symptom will go away, as will all your other physical symptoms of anxiety.
Reduced lubrication in the eyes when body fluids are diverted elsewhere during the fight or flight response, can cause the sufferer to feel pain and dryness in the eyes. Lubricating eyedrops can be purchased at any pharmacy quite cheaply and are very effective in alleviating this pain and dryness.
Agoraphobia is most commonly described as the fear of wide open spaces, but this term actually encompasses a much wider range of fears than that. Agoraphobia may affect sufferers in open spaces, however, it may equally affect sufferers in confined spaces. Agoraphobia is better defined as the fear of being in any place which has a perceived or real geographical distance from a place of safety. This condition can be very debilitating and can become so extreme that it prevents the sufferer from ever leaving his or her home. Ofcourse this fear is highly inappropriate and is fueled by the sufferer’s underlying anxiety disorder. These feelings and irrational perceptions will subside when the anxiety disorder is cured.
Creeping or Pins and Needles Sensations in the Skin
When in an anxious state the central nervous system becomes highly sensitised. The nerve endings, of which there are millions convering every square centimetre of your skin, are alive with electrical impulses jumping through anxiety charged nerves. These may feel like creeping sensations, pins and needles or tingling and they are a result of confused nerve impulses. While they may feel terrible these physical symptoms of anxiety are totally harmless. Don’t worry about them, they mean nothing.
Increased Sensitivity to Light, Touch and Sound
This is also a natural result of our nervous system being hyper sensitive when we are anxious. I remember often becoming startled by the slightest noise. Even the sound of receiving an sms on a cell phone would send shivers down my spine. I also became extremely sensitive to light and would have to wear sunglasses even indoors. Again, this hyper-sensitivity is quite normal and is just our bodies way of preparing your senses to perceive danger. Do not be concerned if you experience hightened senses during anxiety. When your anxiety subsides you will become desensitised and your senses will return to normal.
Involuntray Limb Movements and Twitches
Also caused by confused nerve impulses, the sufferer may experience muscle twiches or may even kick and punch without intending to. This is most common when the sufferer is trying to relax or fall asleep. The subconscious triggers an impulse which causes the person to twitch or involuntarily punch or kick. This is just anxiety trying to tell the brain that the person must stay awake and prepare for danger. Don’t give these twitches or spasms any credit, they will pass.
Derealisation and Depersonalisation
These are both symptoms which affect the way you experience your awareness. Derealisation is the sensation that you and everything around you seems unreal or dreamy. during my anxiety disorder this is exactly what I felt like. I felt as though I was wondering around in a perpetual dream-like state, almost as if I was seeing things through a layer of smoke. Depersonalisation is the sensation that you are outside your body looking at it from a different angle. Don’t pay any notice to these sensations, they mean nothing and are only temporary.
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