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Anxiety symptoms

2-minute read

Worrying, feeling sad and getting stressed sometimes can all be part of our busy lives. But when worry becomes constant and affects daily life, you may have an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety can become so bad you feel you can’t function properly. If it’s left untreated, it may also lead to depression. Anxiety can develop gradually which can make it difficult to work out when it has become a serious issue.

Signs of anxiety

There are different types of anxiety disorder and each has different symptoms. However, there are some signs and symptoms that might mean you have anxiety.

Physical symptoms

  • a panic attack — a sudden, intense episode of fear
  • shortness of breath
  • dizziness
  • a racing heart
  • sweating
  • problems sleeping
  • a churning stomach or stomach ache
  • ‘pins and needles’
  • feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • trembling
  • feeling very thirsty


Someone who has anxiety may avoid situations that make them feel anxious. This can affect their everyday life.

They might excessively worry about the past, present or future and have trouble thinking about anything else.


  • feeling apprehensive or powerless
  • feeling like something bad is about to happen
  • feeling you’re in danger
  • a racing mind
  • difficulty concentrating, finding it hard to think
  • memory problems

If some of these symptoms are impacting on your life, it’s a good idea to talk about them with a doctor, counsellor or mental health professional. It may take time to feel better, but getting professional help can support you in managing anxiety and reduce its effects on your life and wellbeing.

At any time, if you feel that you may harm yourself or have thoughts of suicide, talk to family or friends and inform your doctor as a matter of urgency. You can ring a phone service such as Lifeline 13 11 14, available 24 hours a day. If you are the loved one or carer, dial triple zero (000).

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: October 2020

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