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What are the symptoms of anxiety?
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Anxiety is more than just feeling stressed, nervous or worried. Whilst anxious feelings are common in stressful situations, they usually go away once the stressful situation has passed. However, when these feelings are out of proportion, don't go away, make it hard to cope with daily life, or happen without any obvious reasons, it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder.


There are several different anxiety conditions (see below). These disorders share features of excessive fear and anxiety.

  • fear is the emotional response to real or perceived immediate threat- it is associated with a "fight or flight reaction".
  • anxiety is anticipation of a future threat- it is associated particularly with muscle tension and avoidance behaviours.


Around one in four people experience anxiety at some point in their life. Anxiety can be treated in many ways, and the sooner people with anxiety get help, the more likely they are to get better and recover.

Symptoms of Anxiety include:


  • feeling nervous, restless or tense
  • a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
  • an urge to avoid anxiety triggers
  • difficulty concentrating or thinking 
  • hypervigilance
  • an increased heart rate
  • rapid breathing (hyperventilation)
  • sweating
  • trembling/shakiness
  • weakness or tiredness
  • muscle tension
  • difficulty sleeping
  • tummy upset (such as nausea, diarrhoea)


Anxiety disorders include: 

  • Agoraphobia - an anxiety disorder involving fear and often avoidance of places or situations that might cause you to panic and make you feel trapped, embarrassed or helpless.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder - involves persistent and excessive anxiety and worry about activities or events, even trivial or routine things. The worry is out of proportion to the situation, is difficult to control and affects how you feel physically. It commonly occurs with other anxiety disorders and depression.
  • Panic disorder - involves recurring episodes of sudden intense anxiety and fear that reach a peak within minutes, in the form of a "panic attack". Feelings of impending doom, shortness of breath, chest pain, or a fluttering or pounding heart ("palpitations") are common symptoms of a panic attack. Panic attacks may lead to increased worrying about them happening again or avoiding situations or places in which they've occurred. Panic attacks can lead to people presenting to emergency departments, because the symptoms can be so severe and alarming.
  • Social anxiety disorder (social phobia)- involves high levels of anxiety, fear and avoidance of social situations due to feelings of embarrassment, self-consciousness and worry about being judged or viewed negatively by others.
  • Selective mutism - a consistent failure of children to speak in certain circumstances (such as school), even when they can speak normally in other situations, such as at home with close family members. This can interfere with school, work and social functioning.
  • Separation anxiety disorder - a childhood disorder involving anxiety that's excessive for the child's developmental level and relates to separation from parents (or others who have parental roles).
  • Specific phobias- these involve major anxiety when you're exposed to a specific situation or object, and a desire to avoid it. Phobias cause panic attacks in some people.
  • Substance-induced anxiety disorder - involves intense anxiety or panic resulting from the of misuse of drugs, taking certain medications, being exposed to a toxic substance, or withdrawal from certain drugs.
  • Other specified anxiety disorder and unspecified anxiety disorder - involves anxiety or phobias that don't meet exact criteria for any other anxiety disorder, but are distressing and disruptive to life.
  • Anxiety disorder due to a medical condition-  this includes symptoms of intense anxiety that are directly caused by a physical health problem, such as a thyroid problem or other endocrine (hormonal) conditions, respiratory, neurological or cardiac conditions. Your doctor may wish to rule out some of these possibilities if you are experiencing anxiety, before pursuing psychotherapy or medication treatment options.



If you need help or advice about anxiety, you can:

  • see your local GP 
  • see a psychologist or other mental health worker
  • or get immediate help by contacting Beyond Blue , Lifeline or Headspace.

If you are having severe symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath, and are not sure if it is anxiety, you should seek immediate medical attention/go to your nearest emergency department. 


The online doctors at Qoctor do not start new medications for treatment of anxiety, but they can provide prescriptions for ongoing treatment:

  • if you are already taking a medication for anxiety 
  • your condition is stable

This includes many common anti-anxiety medications (SSRIs and SNRIs), but not benzodiazepines. 


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