Anxiety shows in all kinds of ways, and it can be a bit difficult to pin down which symptoms come from it or other things. A lot of symptom lists include only the “essentials”… Or very, very vague, broad descriptions. Nobody’s talking about the daily frustrations of anxiety!
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Can anxiety give you chest pains? Can anxiety give you flu-like symptoms? And what about anxiety attack symptoms? Anxiety vs anxiety attacks are much different, yet most information online give a very similar list of symptoms for both.
I know what it’s like to have anxiety. I’ve dealt with panic attacks, health anxiety, and a generalized anxiety disorder(GAD) for years. It’s not fun, and it can be really tough to manage on your own.
That’s why I’m writing this post; to share some of the lesser-known symptoms of anxiety so that you can get the confirmation you may need. With health anxiety, I would often panic about symptoms until I found out that the symptoms were just another one of anxiety’s tricks.
So, I guess you could say I’m panicking about panic.
The different types of anxiety disorders
I want to quickly identify and clarify a few lesser-known anxiety types:
Anxiety vs Health Anxiety: you can have anxiety without health anxiety, but you can rarely, if ever, have health anxiety on its own. Health anxiety is usually an extension of your general anxiety, with a specific focus on your own body.
You would stay tuned to all the tiny things happening in your body, such as numbness, short pinches of pain, small muscle cramps, changes of temperature, etc, but every one of these details makes you overthink about all the worst possible outcomes. “Can anxiety give me (insert random symptom)” was a very, very used google search around here.
You also spend a lot more time in clinics and emergency rooms. So, that’s fun.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder: you have panic attacks and constant anxiety. This is where quite a few of the unknown symptoms of anxiety will be, because GAD affects everything in your day-to-day life.
“Rolling panic attacks” is a term for having one panic attack after another for as long as a few hours, or more. It would feel like waves of panic, and when the attack is over, the anxiety levels are still quite high, waiting for the next one.
Identifying anxiety symptoms
Anxiety is a complex disorder with a variety of symptoms, but don’t think that you have to deal with everything on this list. If you’re feeling lost and uncertain about your symptoms, then you’re in the right spot!
We’ve got the usual suspects:
- Feeling nervous, restless or tense
- Having a sense of impending danger or panic
- Having an increased heart rate
- Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
- Feeling weak or tired
- Unconscious avoidance of potential triggers
- Having trouble sleeping
Fair enough, I’ve seen those in just about any anxiety-related blog post.
Even when searching for unusual symptoms, or hidden symptoms of anxiety, it was just the exact same thing! So here’s what they don’t tell ya.
What they don’t tell you about anxiety
- panic attacks and GAD can both give you chest pains that feel exactly like what you think a heart attack feels like.
- If it’s not pain, you can also feel a rapid heartbeat, as well as palpitations(those REALLY suck)
- both GAD and panic attacks can also translate into inattention or brain fog, at levels akin to ADHD
- All it takes is one well-placed panic trigger to make most people with anxiety cry
- Your cold hands or feet may be due to anxiety. In panic mode, your anxious brain can decide to leave less oxygen/blood flow to your extremities in order to protect your central system.
- Acid reflux! Or heartburn, but they’re very similar. Oh, and both of these can also trigger the chest pains mentioned above. FUN.
- Perfectionism. There is “normal” perfectionism, and there there’s anxiety-perfectionism. Most of the time, I don’t even want to start anything, since I won’t be able to do it well.
I’m not done ♥
Stomach pain is often seen in anxious people, and that symptom can be seen on some websites, however, GAD’s constant elevated anxiety can cause you Irritable Bowel Syndrome flare-ups, regardless of your current anxiety levels.
If you’ll remember the common anxiety symptom of “unconscious trigger avoidance,” I want to add that once you’ve been anxious long enough, whether it’s panic attacks or GAD, you start avoiding things consciously. You know what triggers you and you don’t want to deal with that sh!t right now.
Fun fact: I drove through big-city traffic at rush hour daily for work for two years before I could handle the highways…
But, and this is more specifically for GAD, aside from avoiding the big triggers, you may also feel such anxiety at all times that even very small things trigger you. Wrong coffee order? Day ruined. Coworker asking you the same question all over again(and they should really have assimilated the answer by now)? You immediately get irritable, and it can stay for hours! You may feel like you’re always ready to burst into tears.
Being very quickly overwhelmed. Taking me as an example, I am really not good at computer things. I love computers and I spend my days using one, but I am ridiculously helpless when a small issue arises. So I’ll start googling… All the terms are unfamiliar, and I’m way over my head within minutes.
That overwhelm can and will lead me to extreme frustration, a panic attack, or complete shutdown where I’ll just ignore the problem altogether.
Okay last one, i swear:
I ain’t got the brain bandwidth for this sh!t™
So many of my problems end up taking days to fix because I cannot handle the entire thing in one sitting. It’s like I can feel the problem draining my brain batteries!
Coping with anxiety in everyday life
Alright, so I showered you with wayyyy more anxiety symptoms than you can find in most blogs around(from what I searched, anyway), but what about… coping with those?
We’re stuck with this sh!t, after all.
Obviously, coping mechanisms can differ a lot from one person to another, and all I can give you is my own way of dealing with this crap, but hopefully you’ll find something useful in here:
- Ain’t nothing wrong with conscious avoidance. I SAID IT. So what if you’re gonna avoid a specific grocery store? It’s not worth the panic attack.
- Chest pains, rapid heart beat, palpitations: if you have these, and it is new, then I certainly recommend getting some medical attention. However, once your heart has been looked at and proven to be in fine enough health, you can now push these symptoms into the “it’s just my f*cking anxiety” section.
- Even if you know that symptoms are triggered by anxiety, it’s still panic inducing. When I get chest pain or heart palpitations, I meditate for 10-15 minutes. I find that guided meditation is best for this, as it lets me concentrate on a voice instead of me.
- Acid reflux/heartburn: antacid, hands down. Keep a lil’ bottle of Tums close.
- Perfectionism: sometimes it still manages to get the better of me, but I try really hard to remind myself that “Finished is better than Perfect.” It may take a couple of tries.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome(IBS): while IBS is very tricky and difficult to deal with, I did get some relief from avoiding types of food if I think it triggered a flare-up. One funny change was to swap normal crust to thin crust pizza. Regular crust would give me a flare-up every damn time.
Finally, I also have meds for my anxiety that I take as needed. I make sure not to overdo it, because they are the kind of meds that you can build resistance from, but they can be handy from time to time.
somebody tell webmd their anxiety page is lacking.
I hope this information has been helpful in understanding your anxiety, panic attacks, or generalized anxiety disorder. I may add more symptoms if I find or remember more, but that’s the bulk of it.
Remember, while it is one hell of a list, it is unlikely that you will have them all. I just wanted to make an exhaustive list so that these weird symptoms can be found all in one place.
What’s your story? Do you have any symptoms not listed here that I should add? I’d love your input! ♥
Would you be interested in a “how-to” type of workbook or sheets for dealing with anxiety? Let me know in the comments!