Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

by Eileen Bailey Health Writer

Often, people receive a diagnosis of anxiety by accident. They seek medical help for one of the many physical symptoms associated with anxiety and when medical tests fail to find a physical cause for the problem, anxiety is considered. While I always suggest when you are having discomfort or pain you see the help of your doctor, you should also be aware of what physical symptoms are often attributed to anxiety.

Heart Palpitations

Heart palpitations are being aware of your own heartbeat. It usually involves pounding or irregular heartbeats. These can be felt in your chest, your throat or your neck. Palpitations can be accompanied by a feeling of fright. They are often caused by strenuous exercise, stress or high emotions. Although palpitations are rarely serious, you should be checked by a doctor to make sure there are no physical illnesses causing them.

Trembling or Shaking

There are some physical illnesses that can cause trembling or shaking, the most well-known is Parkinson's Disease but there are other causes such as stroke, tumors or multiple sclerosis. Tremors or shaking are also a sign of anxiety but can be caused by extreme rage or stress as well. Because there are a number of physical and emotional causes for tremors, you should always consult with your doctor.

Shortness of Breath

When you are short of breath you usually feel as if you can't breath or you can't get enough air. This may also happen if your organs are not receiving the proper amount of oxygen. Other people may feel like they are hyperventilating. Check with your doctor for possible physical causes but this is also common in people with anxiety or those going through emotional distress.

Chest Pain

Chest pain is one of the more common physical symptoms that send people to the emergency room. If you are experiencing sharp pains in your chest, you should seek immediate medical help. This symptom, however, can also be attributed to anxiety, especially panic attacks.

Stomach Pain or Nausea

We have all felt nauseous
or vomited when faced with emotional distress or nervousness. This is a common symptom for people with anxiety but can be attributed to medical conditions as well. If you have a stomach ache that is directly related to being nervous, it should go away once the situation has resolved itself. If you have chronic stomach problems, talk to your doctor about possible other causes.


Sweating normally occurs when you are hot, exercising or nervous. It is a normal bodily reaction. Some people do sweat profusely and require medical help. If sweating is causing you to not be able to function in every day activities, you should talk with your doctor.

Difficulty Swallowing

Globus Hystericus is feeling like you have a lump in your throat making you feel like you are choking. Other people may feel like they are gagging. If your doctor cannot find any physical cause for this it is usually attributed to anxiety.


Being light-headed or feeling as if you are going to faint is often associated with emotional distress. Again, always check with your doctor if you have this sensation on a regular basis or if it is chronic. Feeling light-headed once in a while, especially if you are in an emotional situation and do not have any other physical condition, could be caused by anxiety.

Eileen Bailey
Meet Our Writer
Eileen Bailey

Eileen Bailey is an award-winning author of six books on health and parenting topics and freelance writer specializing in health topics including ADHD, Anxiety, Sexual Health, Skin Care, Psoriasis and Skin Cancer. Her wish is to provide readers with relevant and practical information on health conditions to help them make informed decisions regarding their health care.