I Know My Anxiety Is Going to Spike When I Feel These Physical Warning Signs

It starts with a slightly empty-stomach, nauseated feeling. I might not notice it at first, probably because I’m more focused on why there seems to be a pain point behind my left eye. These are small things that can easily be brushed off as being hungry, thirsty or needing some caffeine in most people. But for me, they are the first warning signs my anxiety is starting to spike. If I can seize control before a full blown anxiety attack, I can limit the physical symptoms to ones that people won’t notice. I can ease them out through tics like bouncing my knee, tapping my fingers or chewing my nails. Little stuff that is so common most people don’t notice.

But after that first indicator, my hands start to tremble ever so slightly and the vicious cycle of negative thoughts encouraged by my own fears — rational or not — start looping in my mind. At that point I get restless. I have to move, I need space to breathe because it feels like there is a weight on my chest and lungs. I have to get outside or into a bigger room or a quieter room to be able to figure out if I’m actually suffocating or if my mind has told my body it is, even when it isn’t.

Then the gut wrenching stomachaches start and the nausea grows worse. I can’t tell if I need to throw up or not and I wind up so dizzy that standing is hard. So I press my back against the wall and try to breath, try to stem the tears the lump in my throat and the burning in my eyelids tell me are going to fall. The symptoms spike quickly once I’m past a controllable stage and spread to weakness in my knees and legs, uncontrolled crying and desperate gasping for air.

Anxiety isn’t just an excuse to try and slide out of obligations, it’s a real illness with real symptoms that manifest both psychologically and physically. No two people with anxiety will display the same symptoms when they are feeling anxious, so I wanted to caveat my article with explaining these are the physical symptoms of my anxiety.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Silmairel.

Find this story helpful? Share it with someone you care about.

Related to Anxiety

young woman on her phone

What I Need as a Person With Anxiety, but I'm Afraid to Ask For

I take my medication and go to sleep. I wake up every morning knowing I’m going to worry. Yes, it is a part of my daily life and it is not the most enjoyable thing, but I don’t need pity and I personally don’t need to be defined by my anxiety. Most of the time [...]
donald trump signing an executive order

Redefining My Anxiety in the Age of Trump

Since November, I’ve been dreading a Trump presidency. Since Inauguration Day, I’ve dreaded every day of it. But as a person living with an anxiety disorder, I’m used to dread. I’m used to fear of the unknown. The thing that makes this so different is it’s real and palpable in a way my anxiety usually [...]
girl with flower hair covered ornaments, flora,black and white, fairy, vector

How a Neck Injury Taught Me Mental and Physical Pain Are Interconnected

Editor’s note: Please see a doctor before starting or stopping a medication. “Your body hears everything the mind says.” — Naomi Judd Does your mental health ever spiral as you experience physical ailments? Mine has. And I never quite understood the depth and powerful reality of the mind-body connection before. As someone with anxiety, when [...]
Distraught Confused And Anxious Teen Girl

When a Teacher Dismissed My Anxiety Because It's Not Diagnosed

I have anxiety. I struggle just to get through every day. Not very many people know about it — I’ve only told a few very close friends. My family does not know. Therefore, I’ve never been to the doctor to get it officially diagnosed. I have difficulties doing schoolwork. As a top academic student, I [...]