Mood & Stress

5 Surprising Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

Emotions, including anxiety, are a normal part of the human experience. Unfortunately in some individuals, certain emotions can become overwhelming, resulting in additional stress that may be difficult to control.

There are currently several different types of recognized anxiety disorders, including Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Many people are surprised to find that anxiety disorders can result in physical symptoms, which can exacerbate anxiety for many people. Here are five surprising physical symptoms that can be the result of anxiety. 

Choking Sensation or Difficulty Swallowing 

During an anxiety attack or panic attack, some people report having difficulty swallowing or feeling as if they are choking. This may vary from person to person, with some people not having this symptom at all. It may also manifest as a tightness in the throat, such as in people who may suffer anxiety over a fear of anaphylaxis. 

Muscle Aches and Pains 

Anxiety is considered a response to stress, and the potential causes of stress are endless in today’s world. With this in mind, it’s important to note that people who are experiencing elevated levels of stress often suffer from tensed muscles; and many people aren’t even aware their muscles have become tense. Learning to recognize and release tension in your muscles can help combat the aches and pains that may accompany anxiety. 

Shortness of Breath 

During an anxiety or panic attack, it’s possible for a person to feel as if they cannot get enough air. In these instances, shortness of breath is usually a result of increased awareness of a person’s breathing patterns and not actual shortness of breath. This is because people typically pay no mind to their rate or depth of breathing. However during an episode, some people focus in on their breathing and begin hyperventilating, which can, in turn, lead to additional symptoms such as dizziness or lightheadedness. This symptom alone can lead to additional physical symptoms, which are exacerbated by the worry a person with anxiety might experience. 

Heart Palpitations 

Heart palpitations are an especially concerning physical manifestation of anxiety. However, it is worth noting that anxiety can also accompany or worsen symptoms of a number of existing heart conditions. This is why it’s important to see a doctor to rule out any potentially serious issues and to determine that the heart palpitations are truly related to the anxiety alone. 

Chest Pain

Much like heart palpitations, chest pain can be related to anxiety. This is due to the increase in stress hormones many people experience, which can result in chest aches and pains. In some people, anxiety can cause chest tightness, pain, and even mimic the symptoms of a heart attack. To be sure, get checked out by your doctor to ensure what you’re experiencing isn’t heart related, but anxiety related. 

On its own, anxiety can be a normal, healthy reaction to certain scenarios. Unfortunately for some, it can become overwhelming, resulting in a slew of physical symptoms that, while alarming, are often harmless. However, it is worth noting that because anxiety can also go hand-in-hand with various conditions, it’s best to check with your primary care provider or mental health specialist. They can help you determine if your anxiety is primary or secondary, as well as evaluate what treatment options may be best for you. 

We also recommend checking The ASAP Dictionary of Anxiety & Panic Disorders where you can learn more about various anxiety and panic conditions and their associated named.


Carla Koning

Carla has a degree in Behavioral Psychology from UCLA and a deep passion about stress disorders and how they affect our lives. When not hanging out with her husband and 2 children, she spends her free time reading and researching the latest scientific discoveries of the human brain and is our resident contributor in this subject matter.

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