Signs of High Anxiety

Anxiety symptoms can affect a person’s mental, emotional and physical well-being 1. When anxiety levels reach a high point, the person’s social, work or school life and relationships may begin to suffer. Below are some common signs of high levels of anxiety. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, seek out a qualified mental health professional for proper assessment, diagnosis and treatment.

Is This an Emergency?

If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.

Cognitive and Emotional Symptoms

People suffering from high levels of anxiety may experience excessive fear and worry accompanied by beliefs that they are not capable of handling those situations that they fear. Highly anxious people often feel they have no control over feared situations. They may ruminate--or think obsessively--about their fears, assuming the worst is going to happen. They may also tend to worry a lot about what others think about them and can become overwhelmed with the idea that people are looking at them all the time or that something terrible is going to happen.

Some people may be fearful of a specific object or situation--for example, heights or public speaking--while others may more generally fear social situations or just being out in public. These sorts of fears are accompanied by avoidance behavior, with the person being so afraid that they stay indoors or go out of their way to avoid situations they are scared to face. This can cause the highly anxious person to feel lonely, embarrassed, isolated and depressed.

Racing thoughts can lead the highly anxious person to feel like they are “crazy.” They may also experience problems with memory.

Physiological Symptoms

A study published in 2002 in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology reports that there is a significant link between anxiety and gastrointestinal symptoms 12. Specifically, highly anxious people are likely to experience symptoms such as nausea, heartburn, diarrhea and constipation.

Although anxiety is not necessarily a cause of chronic high blood pressure, high levels of anxiety can cause spikes in blood pressure. Those suffering from feelings of panic may experience acute rises in blood pressure associated with increased heart rate, hyperventilation, excessive perspiration, dizziness, chest pain or tightness and nausea. Other physiological symptoms of high anxiety include muscle tension, aches or tremors and chronic fatigue 1.

Substance Abuse

Some people who are highly anxious may engage in behaviors that are unhealthy to try to relax and reduce their anxiety, abusing alcohol, nicotine, marijuana and other drugs. Overeating is another form of self-medicating used to reduce anxiety. When used chronically, however, these substances fail to reduce anxiety and can actually cause anxiety. If you or someone you know is abusing substances, it may be a sign of high anxiety--or a cause of it--so it is important to seek professional help to alleviate your symptoms 1.