Could You Spot The Signs of Anxiety?

Anxiety is often thought to be a mental thing - like it only affects the mind. But as sufferers know, it can produce some very real physical symptoms, too. Here's how to spot them.

Kalms provided a contribution towards helping me bring this post to you. Thanks to them for their support and for helping me spread the word about anxiety to try and help others suffering with it.

Photo credit: Unsplash, Amanda Dalbjörn

So. Anxiety. As a previous sufferer of anxiety, I've heard people tell me it's all in my head, and that I just need to change the way I think about things. This may be true, and strategies like mindfulness and meditation certainly help, but have you ever thought about the physical symptoms that manifest when someone feels anxiety?

I know the physical symptoms that can come from either a sudden anxiety attack or from low level, chronic anxiety. And we all feel them slightly differently. 

I had my first anxiety attack about 8 years ago. I'd been going through a tough time - moving house, kids moving schools, husband starting a new job - and I just woke up with this feeling of dread - like something wasn't right. My hands were shaky, my knees felt weak and my heart was racing for no reason at all. My mouth was dry. I couldn't really breathe very deeply - it was like my lungs couldn't take in any air. Because I suffered with anxiety anyway, of course I jumped to the worst case scenario and convinced myself I was having a heart attack. I called my doctor, told them my symptoms, and they told me to get down pretty quickly to the hospital to get checked out. I got there, the brilliant doctors and nurses did some tests, wired me up to machines and took my blood pressure. A friendly nurse brought me a cup of tea. By then I felt much better. Eventually, about 3 hours later, a doctor appeared, flipped up the paper on his clipboard and peered over his glasses at me. He asked me some questions, nodded and then told me I had just had an anxiety attack. 

This was the first time I had ever heard of anxiety producing physical symptoms. 

And, I can tell you, it was pretty real. 

From then on, I've been very aware that when I'm feeling anxious, depressed or stressed out, it's likely I’ll have some physical symptoms, too. Sometimes, I'll feel achey and tired. I'll get muscle spasms in my shoulders or arms. Other times I get headaches or tension in my jaw or neck. Obviously, if you experience anything similar to what I did then you're best off getting medical help urgently to check you're ok - especially if it's the first time you've experienced it. But, as I'm sent away more and more from the doctor with the words 'it's probably just anxiety' - I've started to realise how much it really affects us and how it's not all in the mind. 

Kalms have produced this infographic, along with a short video, with some tips on some symptoms that can come with anxiety. You might not feel all of these at the same time, but I can relate to a lot of these myself. I thought it would be good to share, so that it helps spread the word about how anxiety can show itself physically as well as mentally - and it might be useful to you or if you spot these signs in a friend or family member, too.

Obviously, it goes without saying that if you are in any way doubtful whether your symptoms are caused by anxiety, or if it's a new symptom for you, go and get advice from your doctor. And do check out the Kalms website for more tips on reducing the symptoms of anxiety. 

Do you suffer with anxiety? Do you experience symptoms? What does anxiety feel like for you? Let me know in the comments below...