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What Are the Signs of Anxiety?

woman sitting before window dealing with signs of anxiety

The signs of anxiety and anxiety disorders are varied. They look different from person to person and may differ as people age and develop. 

If you’re worried that you or someone you love suffers from an anxiety disorder, this post will help you understand the signs.

Understanding Anxiety

Most people experience some anxiety throughout their lives. It is a typical stress response to things like changing jobs or moving houses. But, when your symptoms of anxiety begin to interfere with how you live your life, you may have an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety consists of feelings of preoccupation, nervousness, or unease. 

Anxiety is a stress reaction, and many things in life are stressful. Stress and feeling anxiety are some of the coping mechanisms that help you survive. They prevent you from taking unnecessary risks and allow you to prepare for stress-inducing situations beforehand. 

When an intense fear or distress overwhelms you and prevents you from doing normal daily activities, you may be exhibiting signs of an anxiety disorder. 

Anxiety vs. an Anxiety Disorder 

Some signs of anxiety include things like staying up late preparing for a test or a job interview or checking that you’ve turned off the stove. These are all typical responses to potentially stressful situations.

Anxiety disorders have many unique signs. For example, suppose you find yourself struggling to sleep because you’re worried or wary of leaving your home. In that case, you may be showing signs of an anxiety disorder. 

A key sign of an anxiety disorder is when it stops you from taking care of daily tasks or prevents you from being social. 

Behaviors Associated with Anxiety

When you are growing up, you develop coping mechanisms to help you deal with stress and anxiety in your life. Some of these habits are expected. Others can prevent us from taking action in our lives. 

Many behaviors are signs of anxiety, but some are increasingly common for those coping with an anxiety disorder.

Watching TV Excessively 

You may watch countless hours of television or movies to distract yourself from the things on your to-do list. But, re-watching old series or films that you’ve seen before is a common sign of anxiety for people since you know what will happen, you feel comforted. 


Food brings many people great joy, but many of those who suffer from signs of anxiety report overeating and overindulging. Overeating brings you a sense of comfort and sometimes even control.


As another means of creating a sense of control in your life, you may under-eat. Eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia are anxiety diseases, so their full names include Nervosa, which translates to “nervous” in Italian.

Substance Use

Substances such as drugs or alcohol can often make you feel better temporarily. They feel like they relieve the pressure in your daily life. But, if you use substances as a way to cope with your anxiety, you may end up worsening your symptoms. 

Sleeping too Much

Another common complaint of those suffering from an anxiety disorder is chronic fatigue. This fatigue can lead to sleeping too much, which in turn makes you feel more tired. You may also sleep too much as a way of avoiding anxiety symptoms. 

Signs of Anxiety

Signs of anxiety vary from person to person, by age, and by gender. But, there are significant hallmarks of those who suffer from an anxiety disorder. 

Excessive Worrying

Worrying is one of the most common symptoms of anxiety. It can occur in ordinary situations. It also may be intense and prohibit you from accomplishing daily tasks. 


Agitation is your sympathetic nervous system’s reaction to anxiety. This agitation is because your brain thinks you are in danger and prepares to react to the threat. As a result, you may have symptoms such as sweaty palms, shaking hands, or a dry mouth. 


Restlessness is a prevalent sign of anxiety, especially in children and teens. Feeling on edge or continuously moving is common. 

A woman wearing a long sleeve shirt


For some people, a sign of anxiety may be feeling chronically fatigued. Mental health professionals theorize the fatigue is because your body is regularly in fight-or-flight mode, and it becomes exhausting. But, it may also be due to the hormonal effects of chronic anxiety. 

Difficulty Concentrating

Recent studies have shown that one of the symptoms of anxiety in teens and adults is difficulty holding short-term information. Memory lapses may be why many people suffering from anxiety show a decrease in performance during stressful situations. 


Another common symptom of anxiety is irritability. Turning to anger quickly or reacting with irritation is common. This irritability is probably due to excessive worrying from your body being in fight-or-flight mode.  


Tensing your muscles like you’re preparing for the attack is a common symptom of anxiety. Having this happen most days of the week may be an indicator that you’re suffering from anxiety. 

Disturbed Sleep or Oversleeping

Waking up during the middle of the night or having difficulties falling asleep are strongly associated with anxiety disorders. This difficulty sleeping may even evolve into full-blown insomnia.

You also may have the opposite reaction and sleep too much to avoid the things causing you anxiety. 

Panic Attacks

Some types of anxiety disorders are associated with panic attacks, but not all of them. Panic attacks are the result of extreme fear of something. They may be accompanied by sweating, shaking, difficulty breathing, nausea, and a rapid heartbeat. 

Social Avoidance

If you have anxiety or social anxiety disorder, you may find yourself avoiding social situations. You may worry that other people judge you, that you may be embarrassed by others, or you may just feel fearful of social interaction. These may cause you to avoid social situations or be extremely shy and reserved when meeting new people. 

Irrational Fears

Irrational fears may be of particular things, which may be an indicator of a phobia. For example, you may experience extreme fear of being on public transit, being in open or enclosed spaces, or being home alone. Regardless, these fears stop you from living your life the way you’d like to live it. 

Anxiety According to Age or Gender

You may or may not be aware that the signs and symptoms of anxiety vary widely between teens, children, women, and men. So keep an eye out for age and gender-specific symptoms. 

Signs of Anxiety in Children

Children usually show usual fears while growing up, such as fear of strangers, heights, and of course, the dark. But when the signs of anxiety in children do not go away over time, they may be suffering from an anxiety disorder. 

Symptoms of anxiety in children include:

  • Bedwetting
  • Refusing to go to school
  • Nightmares
  • Stomach aches
  • Trouble concentrating 
  • Nervous habits such as nail-biting

Signs of Anxiety in Teens 

Signs and symptoms of anxiety in teens may negatively impact their social lives, family relationships, and schoolwork. For teens, signs of anxiety could include severe emotional changes like unexplained outbursts and extreme irritability. 

Other indicators of anxiety in teens include:

  • Poor performance in school
  • Panic attacks
  • Poor quality of sleep
  • Physical symptoms such as frequent headaches or unexplained aches and pains
  • Social isolation from friends and extracurricular activities

An African American mother and daughter sit on a couch practicing mindfulness

Signs of Anxiety in Women

Women are more likely to suffer from anxiety disorders. But this increased likelihood in women may be because men are statistically less likely to seek care or treatment for their anxiety. 

One of the most common signs of anxiety in women is difficulties with food, such as bulimia or anorexia. In addition, women with anxiety tend to make more frequent trips to the doctor or emergency room and miss more workdays.

Signs of Anxiety in Men

Men under report anxiety. This underreporting may be due to the societal pressures on men to be self-reliant and not display signs of vulnerability. 

One of the most common signs of anxiety in men is displaying aggression or irritability rather than nervousness. Men also are more likely to abuse substances and experience difficulties in their relationships due to their anxiety. 

Treatment for Anxiety at ILC

At Integrative Life Center, we understand that your anxiety deserves unique treatment. If you’re ready to break free from anxiety and move forward with your goals and plans, then we have a treatment program you can trust. 

We offer a variety of treatment options that are suited to all kinds of needs, including:

  • Residential programs
  • Community re-integration programs
  • Partial hospitalization
  • Intensive outpatient programs
  • Aftercare follow up programs
  • Telehealth programs

At ILC, we take great pride in the amount and quality of therapeutic services we offer to people with anxiety and other co-occurring disorders. 

Our treatment programs include: 

If you’re ready to gain control of your anxiety, contact us today!


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