What are Anxiety Symptoms?

From Our BlogAnxiety section | July 21, 2020

Bahadir Bozoglan, PhD

Author of several papers published in distinguished journals including Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, Computer in Human Behavior, Psychological Reports and European Journal of Psychological Assessment.

Anxious man

Is there a difference between anxiety disorder symptoms and anxiety symptoms?

The answer to this curious question is no. Anxiety disorder symptoms and anxiety symptoms are similar. However, these two differs in terms of frequency, intensity, and duration of symptoms. Briefly, main features of anxiety include worrying about things in various settings such as work, home and school or outside where the people have difficulty to handle situations.

Main Anxiety Symptoms

Main symptoms of anxiety are as follows:

  1. Extreme anxiety and worry about several events or activities such as work or school performance.
  2. It is hard to control the worries
  3. It includes three or more of the following symptoms:
    • Restlessness or feeling tense
    • Being easily fatigued
    • Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
    • Irritability
    • Muscle tension
    • Sleep disturbance such as having difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless, unsatisfying sleep
  4. For anxiety disorder, the anxiety and worry should include three or more of the above symptoms for the past 6 months.


How can everyday people know if they are anxious?

The individuals who experience anxiety find it hard to control their worries and have worrying thoughts, which interferes with attention to ongoing tasks. Anxious people frequently worry about everyday life circumstances, such as probable job responsibilities, health and finances or minor matters such as doing household errands or being late for appointments. When a person’s anxiety is activated, the physical, behavioral and cognitive systems are affected.

Physical symptoms may include restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge, being easily exhausted, difficulty in concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, an increase in heart rate, depth of breathing and sweating as well as reduced activity of the digestive system, widening of the pupils of the eyes and sleep disturbance.

Considering behavioural system, people either run away or stand and are ready to fight when they believe that they are in danger. Therefore, the irresistible desires associated with this response are those of aggression and a desire to escape, wherever they are. Often this is not possible because of social restrictions and so people often satisfy their needs through behaviours such as foot tapping, walking, or snapping at people.

Cognitive system warns individuals to the probable presence of danger and they to change their attention to the surroundings to explore possible threat, which leads to the trouble in concentrating. This stops people from joining continuing responsibilities and they may start searching for possible danger, but from time to time, they can not find an obvious threat. Although anxious people do not have an explanation for their anxiety, they keep trying to find an explanation, which leads them to think that something is going wrong with them, but some people start looking for the methods of treatment about how to cope with.


  1. American Psychiatric Association (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. (Fifth Edition) American Psychiatric Publishing.
  2. Brown, T. A., & Barlow, D. H. (2014). Anxiety and Related Disorders Interview Schedule for DSM-5 (ADIS-5L).: Lifetime Version. Client Interview Schedule. Oxford University Press.
  3. Genes, S. (1987). Symptoms of Anxiety and Symptoms of Depression. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 44, 451-457.
  4. Understanding Anxiety [27th July, 2020]
  5. Recognizing and easing the physical symptoms of anxiety [27th July, 2020] https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/recognizing-and-easing-the-physical-symptoms-of-anxiety
  6. Anxiety Symptoms [27th July, 2020] https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety/generalized-anxiety-disorder-gad/symptoms


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