What does anxiety feel like to a sufferer?

Clients often come to see me after they have consulted their GP, Psychologist or Psychiatrist but express that their anxiety signs, symptoms and how they feel when they experience anxiety, was never properly understood.

The signs and symptoms of anxiety can feel awful, and I have heard many clients describe it as something ‘you would not wish on your worst enemy’. It is important to note that if you do suffer from anxiety, you are not alone, which is why I describe here how anxiety sufferers can feel and what symptoms they often experience. Please also don’t despair, as with the right understanding and help, recovery is possible.

Read more on ‘What is anxiety’?

Read more on ‘What is panic’?

How does anxiety make you feel?

  • Constantly on edge with your mind focusing and worrying about things in the past, or what negative things may happen in the future – most of these thoughts begin with the words “What if?”.
  • You often view the world with a thin veil between you and the rest of society. You might often look around at other people and see them moving forward with their lives, which makes the way you feel harder to cope with.
  • Often you are aware the anxiety or fear you feel is not always based in reality, yet you can’t seem to stop the anxious thinking.
  • Clients often describe wishing they would ‘get back to their old self’ or would prefer to have some other type of other illness rather than continue to suffer from anxiety.
  • Anxiety rushes can come on seemingly out of the blue, can be worse in the morning when you wake up, or can feel like a slow drip of anxiety constantly in the background.
  • Sometimes anxiety can disappear for weeks or months, then it comes back and it can be hard to understand why.

Anxiety Symptoms*

Often it is the symptoms of anxiety that are for many the hardest to cope with. Here I outline an extensive list of the symptoms of anxiety:

  • A racing heart beat and heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath and tightening in the chest
  • Feeling like you have a lump in the throat
  • Sever tension headaches
  • Worried about losing control or going crazy
  • Frequent use of toilet
  • Churning or sickening feeling in the stomach
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach feeling like it is in knots
  • Burning sensations or numbness
  • Hot flushes in various parts of the body
  • Shaking, particularly the hands and arms
  • Excessive sweating and ‘clammy hands’
  • Muscle tension and tightness in the neck and shoulders or back
  • Wobbly or jelly like legs
  • Insomnia and problems with sleeping
  • Intrusive and obsessive thoughts and thinking (sometimes thoughts of harming or weird, strange thoughts)
  • Constant anxious thinking
  • Feeling dizzy and blurred vision
  • Sounds seeming louder
  • Overwhelming feelings of tiredness or exhaustion
  • Low motivation, hard to do everyday tasks
  • Panic attacks
  • Social anxiety around others
  • Feeling paranoid
  • Easily influenced or open to suggestion
  • Constant Googling for answers and reassurance about anxiety and symptoms
  • Feeling of unreality (like you are not quite here)

*Anxiety symptoms are usually harmless and mimic other health issues, but if you suffer from anxiety and have not done so, for peace of mind I always recommend you see your doctor or GP for a general check up for confirmation that your symptoms are anxiety related.

While extremely unpleasant and hard to cope with at times, anxiety and anxiety symptoms are ultimately just feelings or thoughts and do not cause harm. As an anxiety sufferers understanding of anxiety improves, and with strategies to manage the symptoms, peoples lives can improve dramatically and ultimately recover.


Do your workplace colleagues show signs of anxiety? This can be incredibly disruptive to overall happiness in a workplace environment, leading to increased absence, conflict, and turnover. Samuel Eddy provides expert group corporate training in workplace wellbeing and personal executive coaching to develop strategies to increase overall satisfaction and engage issues with anxiety in the workplace.