Understanding anxiety: A deep dive into its symptoms

In today's bustling, digitised world, 'anxiety' isn't just a term – it's becoming part of our vernacular. Every day, we hear individuals talk about feeling 'anxious' about an upcoming event or situation. But, is it always the clinical anxiety we think of, or is it sometimes just a transient feeling?


It's vital to understand that anxiety, in its true essence, isn't merely an occasional sense of unease; it's a profound emotion deeply entwined with our biology, external environment, and unique personal experiences.

Defining anxiety

At the foundation, anxiety acts as our body's natural alarm system, responding to threats or perceived dangers. We've all felt that flutter of nervousness before stepping onto a stage or the apprehensive tightness before taking a major decision. However, what happens when these emotions refuse to subside?

For numerous individuals, anxiety becomes a lingering shadow, persisting even in the absence of discernible stressors. When this state of heightened alertness turns chronic, an anxiety disorder may be lurking in the backdrop.

Symptoms unveiled: The many faces of anxiety

Anxiety's manifestations are diverse, echoing both in our physical and mental realms. Let's delve deeper:

1. Physical tell-tale signs

  • Heart pulsations: An abnormally racing or fluttering heartbeat.
  • Excessive perspiration: Sweating profusely even in ambient temperatures.
  • Muscle tremors: Noticeable shivering of hands or quivering of the voice.
  • Chronic fatigue: An unending sense of exhaustion, irrespective of sleep or rest.
  • Digestive concerns: Issues like recurring stomach cramps, frequent nausea, or diarrhoea.
  • Disturbed sleep patterns: Battling insomnia, facing restless sleep or experiencing recurring night sweats.

2. Mental and emotional indicators

  • Constant agitation: An ever-present feeling of being tensed or 'on edge'.
  • Overwhelming concern: Continual worries about potential threats, often disproportionate to the situation.
  • Easily irritated: A lower threshold for frustration or agitation.
  • Focus challenges: Struggling with concentration due to a storm of incessant thoughts.
  • Decision-making dilemmas: An intensified fear of consequences resulting in decision paralysis or overthinking.
  • Foreboding sensations: An inexplicable dread or feeling that disaster is imminent.

The intensity of panic attacks

For a subset of individuals grappling with anxiety, it culminates in episodes termed as 'panic attacks'. These sessions bring about an intense wave of anxiety and fear, often without a clear cause.

The severity can ramp up within minutes, with individuals reporting symptoms like breathlessness, a choking sensation, acute chest discomfort, dizziness, and at times, an unfounded fear of impending death.

Recognising the need for intervention

Differentiating between occasional anxiety, a universal human experience, and persistent symptoms affecting day-to-day functioning is paramount. Should anxiety begin to impede professional commitments, academic pursuits, or personal relationships, it becomes essential to consider professional intervention.

Charting the path forward: Managing anxiety

Acknowledging anxiety's symptoms is pivotal to addressing it. Empowerment often lies in recognition. With acceptance comes the opportunity to seek assistance – whether through therapeutic channels, joining support groups, or tapping into holistic healing modalities.

Techniques like mindfulness practices, meditation routines, and deep-breathing exercises have shown promising results for many. Some might find relief in medications, but it's crucial to proceed under the expert supervision of a qualified counsellor.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Counselling Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Ilford IG3 & London E7
Written by Saleha Choudhury, Diploma in Counselling | MBACP
Ilford IG3 & London E7

My name is Saleha Choudhury. I am an integrative counsellor based in Greater London. I enjoy helping people get unstuck as they work through difficult moments in their lives. I write regular blogs to keep in tabs with my readers on a regular basis. I hope you enjoy reading my blogs.

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