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Anxiety symptoms

Anxiety can affect your ability to concentrate.

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is the most common mental health disorder that can affect ability to concentrate, sleep and carry out ordinary tasks.

Worries about work, feeling sad sometimes and getting stressed can all be part of our busy lives. It's when worry becomes constant and affects daily life that you may have a problem. Anxiety can become so bad you feel immobilised and if left untreated, may 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

A panic attack is a sudden, intense episode of fear associated with physical symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness and a racing heart. Panic attacks may be triggered by specific situations and generally occur in people with a diagnosis of panic disorder, but may be a symptom of other anxiety disorders. For some people, these are a regular occurrence and worrying about them happening can cause further anxiety.

Other symptoms of anxiety may include:

Emotional anxiety symptoms

  • excessive worry about the past, present or future
  • feeling apprehensive
  • feeling powerless
  • a sense of impending panic, danger or doom
  • mind racing, finding it hard to think
  • difficulty concentrating and remembering things

Physical anxiety symptoms

  • increased heart rate
  • breathing rapidly (hyperventilation) or shortness of breath
  • sweating
  • trembling
  • feeling tired or weak
  • dizziness
  • choking
  • dry mouth
  • stomach or chest pain
  • diarrhoea
  • blushing
  • muscle tension and headaches
  • difficulty sleeping and nightmares
  • hot and cold flushes
  • feeling tense, wound up and edgy

Behavioural anxiety symptoms

  • avoiding situations that make you feel anxious

If some of these symptoms are impacting on your life they could be causing isolation and can eventually lead to depression. Talk about your anxiety symptoms 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).

Last reviewed: November 2016

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