The 47 Worst Symptoms of Anxiety We Don't Talk About
Anxiety can present itself in many different ways — from physical to mental and emotional symptoms. Sometimes, it’s a constant worry or a persistent fear that nestles itself in the back of your mind. Other times, it morphs itself into panic or anger which causes your heart to race and your thoughts to scatter.
But there are also symptoms of anxiety that don’t fit the cookie-cutter stereotype that is often portrayed; like when part of your body starts to hurt, or a certain feeling, like skepticism, emerges from your anxious mind.
That is why we asked our Mighty mental health community to tell us the worst symptom of anxiety they’ve experienced that people don’t typically talk about.
Here is what they had to say:
1. “Irrationality. Irrational fear, irrational anger, irrational sadness, sometimes irrational giggles. Anxiety twists up everything to an irrational level, and you know it but you still feel the tight muscles, chest pressure, etc.” — Jess C.
2. “My anxiety causes overproduction of stomach acid, which leads to diarrhea. Because what I really need during stressful social situations is a dozen trips to the bathroom, right?” — Jacki E.
3. “The shame. Just the absolute feeling of shame. Shame that you can’t be the individual people expect you to be, and further anxiety stems from that.” — Meaghan L.
4. “The recovery. We talk a lot about what happens during an attack, but we don’t really talk about what happens after. How it can take hours to feel like you can breathe properly again and how you feel exhausted afterwards — both mentally and physically.” — Hydee D.
5. “The mental and physical exhaustion. The inability to breathe. The aggression. The constant need to be perfect. The need to stick to a schedule in order to distract yourself. The insecurity.” — Fatima F.
6. “Chest pain. My chest usually feels really tight and heavy, like I’m having a heart attack. Then my heart starts to flutter and race. I start to focus on the physical symptoms which only makes my anxiety worse.” — Katie W.
7. “Isolation and loss of friends. My anxiety attacks cause me to avoid contact with people and I can’t even concentrate on a conversation. I isolate myself and eventually friends stop trying to fight what they see as a losing battle.” — Jenny B.
8. “Panic that races through your body and mind. The kind that almost takes your breath away on the inside, but goes unnoticed by others on the outside. The panic and fear that feels like the world is crashing down on you and spinning out of control, for really no reason at all.” — Renee S.
9. “Feeling dizzy, like I can’t put two words together and my head gets extremely fuzzy.” — Angelina M.
10. “Flushed skin. In certain situations I sweat profusely and my neck and chest will turn bright red. I rarely, if ever, hear anything mentioned about that awful symptom. It’s extremely embarrassing and causes me to stand out. People take notice and start asking questions about it. It makes my anxiety worse.” — Brandy G.
11. “I pee all the time. Literally I’ll be out for dinner with my partners family or something and I’ll excuse myself to the bathroom at least three to four times during a meal. It’s kind of embarrassing. Thankfully they know about my anxiety and we laugh it off, but it’s still such a pain!” — Cat M.
12. “My inability to hold down a job. I’ve tried my hardest at all kinds of things, and eventually my anxiety forces me to quit or leads to me getting fired. I fear that people think I’m incompetent or lazy, but it’s just the anxiety preventing me from handling situations appropriately.” — Caroline T.
13. “Even if you get good news, the excitement can trigger your anxiety. The heart pounding, sweaty palms and shallow breathing. I can’t even get too happy with my anxiety. It ruins the happy times.” — Glenda W.
14. “Needing to know where we are going, who and how many people will be there and if any factors are different then irrationality sets in.” — Samantha D.
15. “The dreams. Vivid crazy dreams. Not so much nightmares, but silly irrotational dreams like my husband cheating, kids being kidnapped, being lost in the woods or being locked in a room. I have a hard enough time falling and staying asleep as is, heaven forbid my anxiety takes a break when I actually do sleep.” — Staci-Lynn B.
16. “IBS. My anxiety puts my IBS into overdrive. In fact, one feeds into the other, which feeds back into the other. I’m currently housebound because of it. Nothing ramps up agoraphobia quite like the fear of having an accident.” — Mandi F.
17. “Rage and the inability to stop thinking about an event. I get rage from specific triggers and I’ve been told by my counselor that it is anxiety. And also after any awkward or anxious event, it can be hard to quit thinking about it.” — Kelli F.
18. “Air-hunger. Not being able to take a satisfying deep breath. It takes hours of trying to the point where breathing is not natural anymore. Filling your chest with so much forced air that you begin to have chest pain which leads to a whole new level of anxiety.” — Aleida T.
19. “The need to be in control of everything and the irrational behavior. Everyone thinks you’re suddenly an angry control freak. And the crying. You can’t be in control, you’re angry and then because you can’t control anything, you cry.” — Jessica L.
20. “Muscles spasms. When my anxiety is really bad, my hands clamp into claws and I can’t move them, feel them or flex them. My face also goes entirely numb and tingly along with all of my limbs. It’s really unnerving.” — Lucy J.
21. “Loss of appetite. Having anxiety is very fatiguing itself, but when you’re too worked up to eat, it’s especially true. Sometimes, I’ll have a plate of food and won’t be able to get more than one or two bites down. I know my body needs the energy, but when my anxiety is especially bad, I can’t even think about food. It makes me feel physically worse, which in turn, worsens the anxiety.” — Clara B.
22. “Skin picking. Most people, including doctors, don’t understand it’s my anxiety manifesting itself and not just a “bad habit.” I don’t even notice when I’m doing it until I’m either hurt or someone points it out.” — Mariana N.
23. “The tremors I get. My whole body shakes and the more I try to control it the worse it gets. Everyone notices. which just increases my anxiety and makes me shake even more. Then I start to stumble on my words and I feel ashamed of myself because I can’t control it.” — Katie B.
24. “Paranoia. My anxiety makes me irrationally paranoid about everything. Compounded with my post-traumatic stress disorder, it’s unbearable at times. I get especially paranoid when I’m alone with my kids. I check the doors over and over to make sure they’re locked. I can’t sleep because I’m afraid if I take my medication I won’t hear someone break in or I won’t be able to respond if one of my kids needs me. The panic attacks are bad, the nightmares are worse, but the paranoia is the worst of all of it.” — Jessica H.
25. “I can’t talk. I physically can’t form words with my brain. It’s like I forget every word in the English language.” — Melissa F.
26. “Guilt. Guilt that I feel this way, guilt that in school I’m a distraction, guilt that my family feels like they can’t help me, guilt that my anxiety attacks waste precious time with the ones I love.” — Savvy W.
27. “My anxiety triggers my obsessive compulsive disorder, and then I tend to start snapping at people and get a little mean.” — Elizabeth W.
28. “Getting frustrated over the littlest things. I could get mad because I can’t fold a blanket the right way, and that alone might start up an anxiety attack. Constantly picking at my nails. I notice that I’m doing it only when other people look down at my hands. It’s embarrassing during job interviews, talking to new people, or even talking to my therapist.” — Brianna T.
29. “Indecisiveness. When everyone in your life is mad because you just got dropped off somewhere and you immediately want to be home, than the cycle continues until multiple people are in tears. But it breaks down to smaller things like what to eat. Then you realize it’s been 12 days since you’ve been able to make that decision at all.” — Kelli D.
30. “Sweating. As soon as I get the t bit anxious my body over heats and I sweat from everywhere you can imagine and places you wouldn’t even think of. It’s awful. I have to carry extra clothes and undergarments or else I end up in a soggy, cold shiver for the rest of the day.” — Amber T.
31. “The exhaustion of trying to cover everything. My stomach turns and twists, leaving me with stomach cramps. In the back of my throat, I can feel my stomach acid rise up so I have to choke back from throwing up. Any sudden movements cause me nausea. All sounds become so loud that my head begins to spin. Embarrassing enough, it can happen anywhere, especially in front of people I love. I act like I’m fine, but I’m dying in side.” — Samantha J.
32. “The tightness in my stomach. It feels like my stomach is in knots all twisted and cutting off everything. I can’t eat or sleep or do anything but focus on that. I think the absolute worst though is being afraid of my own thoughts. I just want to escape my head.” — Tristen W.
33. “Being extremely cautious all the time, especially in public. Analyzing all people’s moves, gestures and behavior because I’m scared someone will attack me or just act aggressively. And when I come home I feel exhausted from being in an extra cautious mode all day.” — Aleksandra S.
34. “Staring at a computer screen at work to avoid talking to someone because you’re afraid to feel [silly]. Scrolling through Facebook on the same screen just to avoid eye contact or entering a conversation you’d like to participate in just because you feel ‘stupid’ or like you don’t know enough.” — Kelly L.
35. “The constant need to feel wanted. Even if people aren’t ignoring you when you need them most, it seems like they are. If they don’t text back soon enough, it drives me to tears in fear that they hate me.” — Shayna K.
36. “It literally comes out of nowhere. I’m out with my boyfriend, who I always say is my shield against mental illness because he makes me calm and happy, and then bam, out of nowhere I can barely talk. I don’t want to do anything, I’m nervous and anxious and my heart is racing. Why? I couldn’t tell you.” — Dara D.
37. “Having to bring someone everywhere with you and inconvenience them because you can’t drive alone very far. Afraid of being far from home — what will happen, how will I get out of it?” — Alyse S.
38. “Sarcasm and arrogance. I guess I try to make up for the weakness that I feel. I get exhausted, nauseous, shake, I’m unable to eat and I isolate myself.” — Kara A.
39. “Body spasms, losing the ability to stand up or see straight, feeling helpless as you go from being fine one second to having the rug yanked out from under you the next — and struggling to catch yourself.” — James B.
40. “The migraine headache it triggers because I am stressed and embarrassed by all the emotions, especially the relentless hysterical crying that accompanies my anxiety attacks.” — Melodie E.
41. “Temporomandibular joint dysfunction. The more anxious I am, the more I clench my jaw. It has created a lot of problems, but the worst is the constant clicking/plugged feeling in my ear.” — Kelsey R.
42. “Inability to speak without sounding like I’m barking orders or cannot make sense whatsoever. I can’t string a sentence together when I’m in total panic.” — Lynda B.
43. “Rambling. It comes out as nonsense and then you sit there after the conversation wondering what the other person thought about you. Just anxious rambling and repetitive sentences.” — Rachel R.
44. “Nervous laughter/giggles, diarrhea, stiff neck and shoulders, intense tummy pains, complete withdrawal and silence.” — Churri N.
45. “Mental fog — forgetfulness and inability to be attentive. Asking, ‘What?’ or, ‘Huh?’ People get very frustrated with you quickly for this.” — Krystal E.
46. “Constantly experiencing a dichotomy between what you want to say/do and what you actually say/do. Then beating yourself over it.” — Angelique M.
47. “The adrenaline crash when the anxiety dies down. Instead of feeling better you feel exhausted.” — Georgie W.
What would you add?