Symptoms and Signs of Anxiety Disorders

Doctor's Notes on Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is a feeling of nervousness, apprehension, fear, and/or worry; an anxiety disorder is when anxiety reactions interfere with normal functions and sleep. Signs and symptoms of an anxiety disorder include panic attacks (associated with 4 of the following); palpitations, sweating, short of breath, sense of choking, nausea, dizziness, feel like your mind is blank, feel like you are detached from the world, fear of dying, numbness, tingling, chills and hot flashes. Signs and symptoms of a generalized anxiety disorder are defined as excessive, unrealistic and difficult to control worry over a period of a least 6 months and are associated with 3 of the following: restlessness, tires easily, difficulty concentrating, irritability, muscle tension and sleep problems. Phobic anxiety disorders (fear of spiders, snakes or public speaking, for example) can trigger panic attacks. Stress anxiety, like post-traumatic stress disorders, may have patients reliving trauma (flashbacks) or having nightmares, being hypervigilant, being depressed or gloomy, avoiding activities, places and people and having other symptoms such as difficulties with sleeping and concentration.

Anxiety disorders may be caused or triggered to occur by mental conditions (stress at work, viewing or participating in a traumatic event), physical conditions (angina, congestive heart failure), drugs (heroin withdrawal) and/or a combination of all of these.

Medical Author:
Medically Reviewed on 3/11/2019


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.