The symptoms of anxiety can be many and varied. People can experience symptoms from several categories at the same time.

These can include dissociative symptoms such as depersonalization and derealization, the ‘fight’ and flight’ response – rapid heart beat, rapid breathing, effects of hyperventilation and muscle tension. People can also experience a number of different effects as a result of their anxiety and panic attacks.

Fight and Flight Response.

The fight and flight response is a natural response to danger in humans and in animals. When activated, hormones are released through the body to enable us to either fight the dangerous situation or to run from it. The effects of the fight and flight response include an increase in our heart rate to pump blood faster to the brain, lungs and muscles. We can begin to breathe quickly to increase our oxygen levels, our muscle tense and we can begin to perspire.

Many of us don’t realize the way we think when we have an anxiety disorder turns the ‘fight and flight’ response on.

Our bodies can’t tell the difference between our thoughts, ‘what if I have a panic attack, what if I make a fool of myself, why am I feeling like this, why is this happening to me, what if the doctor has made a mistake etc etc’…. and the thought…

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‘Here comes a truck at 100 miles an hour and it has no brakes. It is heading straight for me!’

The way we think when we have an anxiety disorder keeps turning on the fight and flight response. The sensations of the fight and flight response and our anxiety and panic attack symptoms keep on cycling, which keeps on turning on the fight and flight response and around and around we go.

The main categories of physical symptoms are as follows:


  • Racing or rapid heart beat
  • Heart palpitations
  • Missed heart beats
  • Pounding heart

Breathing Symptoms

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Hyperventilation
  • Tightening of the throat
  • Choking sensation


  • Chest pain
  • Headaches
  • Lower back pain
  • Sciatica
  • Muscle pain
  • Aching jaw
  • Clenching fists

Digestive Problems

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Churning / burning stomach
  • Indigestion

Dissociative Symptoms

  • Feeling detached from the body
  • Feeling as if you and/or surroundings are not real
  • Feel as if looking through a white or grey mist
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Stationary objects appear to move
  • Sensations of falling into a ‘void’
  • Dizziness

Other Symptoms

  • Pins and needles
  • Hot and cold flashes
  • Shaking/ trembling
  • Excessive perspiration
  • Sweating hands
  • Giddiness / dizziness
  • Flushing face
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Diarrhea
  • Sleeping difficulties
  • Night sweats
  • Unexplainable rashes
  • Feelings of weakness in left hand and/or arm


  • Lack of concentration
  • Extreme exhaustion
  • Loss of feelings and/or libido
  • Short term memory loss

Major Fears

  • Fear of dying/ having a heart attack
  • Fear of going insane/ losing control
  • Fear of embarrassment / of making a fool of yourself.