Anxiety doesn’t always make sense. That’s why it can be hard to talk about symptoms that may seem “strange” or “unheard of” — and often why we might push aside certain mental, emotional or physical symptoms of our anxiety.
The question, “will people believe me when I tell them this is caused by my anxiety?” or “am I the only one going through this?” may have crossed your mind when experiencing a certain thought or behavior.
That’s why we asked our mental health community to share with us symptoms of their anxiety they think (or thought) they were the only ones experiencing. Because even though most peoples’ anxiety is different, it’s important to remember whatever you’re going through is valid and support is out there.
Here’s what our community told us:
1. “The urge to act impulsively. For example, if there is something triggering my anxiety, I may feel the urge to hit Amazon and start buying things. That urge will pass, but will be replaced with the urge to eat tons of chocolate. Then that urge will pass just as quickly, to be replaced by another urge to act impulsively (get in the car and make the four hour drive to Minneapolis because I can get there and back in a day). I find I have to distract myself with something in order to not give into the urge to do something stupid and impulsive.” — Kathy K.
2. “Inability to swallow. I choke if I’m having anxiety and I try to eat. It’s like my brain and my throat get befuddled and do not communicate. It’s terrifying, especially in public. I mentioned it to my old psychiatrist and she said it’s just one of those lovely symptoms of anxiety.” — Madison C.
3. “Narcolepsy-type symptoms. I have fallen asleep in the weirdest places because of my anxiety. At a Cardinals game, the drag races, other social events, etc.” — Katie G.
4. “Indecisive. My anxiety makes me constantly overthink, so every decision I make, I go back on. It annoys everyone and I wasn’t sure if it was just me, or if there was a reason. Apparently, there’s a great reason.” — Sierra B.
5. “Skin, nail and lip picking. I’ve always felt so gross and ashamed because I never see anyone else doing those things.” — Bri R.
6. “I dig my nails into my hands to relieve the anxiety. I have never seen it as self-harmbecause it doesn’t make me bleed, but it can leave the marks of my nails on my hands for hours or even a few days.” — Hazel M.
7. “My head pumps in sync with my heart. I feel ‘white.’ My eyes move restlessly. My palms get cold and sweaty.” — Karl M.
8. “Breathlessness to the point I almost pass out. Tingling, nausea, disassociating to extremes — missing life because of this damn illness.” — Annalise H.
9. “Nausea. I would throw up every morning before work because I was anxious to go.” — James-Micah E.
10. “Being moved to tears when my husband conveys his love, even if it’s a simple act. It’s like my anxiety won’t let me believe I’m lovable.” — Robyn B.
11. “My legs shaking. I would get yelled at for annoying people or told to control it when I really just could not stop. Sometimes I still can’t.” — Kaylee M.
12. “I have always been super sensitive to sounds like wrappers crackling and long nails typing on the computer. I almost had a panic attack a couple weeks ago because I was sitting in the back of class. There have been so many instances where I have to put my earbuds in just to concentrate on studying or the lecture slides. I’m so glad this didn’t happen a lot in high school because I would’ve been punished for having my earbuds in.” — Megan A.
13. “I would feel trapped inside of myself, and couldn’t speak if I tried. When I could speak, it was rushed and sometimes mumbled.” — Brooke K.
14. “I go one of two ways: I either completely zone out and disassociate or I go into hyper mode and I can’t stop talking or sit still and I get very loud and in everyone’s face. The worst part is I never know which one is going to happen and sometimes it can switch from one to the other.” — Kelda M.
15. “My lips go numb to some degree. It only started happening a few weeks ago, but it’s becoming a clear indicator of when I’m close to experiencing a panic attack.” — Katie O.
16. “Thinking/feeling like I’m ‘going crazy.’ I often feel I’m ‘losing all sanity’ and that I’ll ‘lose all sense of reality.’ [I] recently found out I’m not the only one who feels that way during an anxiety attack.” — Amy W.
17. “My nose tingles. It’s so bizarre and annoying to be honest. Sometimes I get that before I’ve even realized my anxiety is bad.” — Jennifer W.
18. “Hair pulling. I get so anxious I actually pull out my own hair. Now I have a massive bald spot.” — Kira K.
19. “Lashing out in anger at people, even though I don’t mean to.” — Kalli R.
20. “I get a ‘sinking’ heart feeling or it’ll be a sudden ‘drop’ heart feeling.” — Shannon M.
21. “I stutter horribly when I am anxious, which just draws even more unwanted attention to myself.” — Heather S.
22. “Having recurring guilt over something that happened a long time ago.” — Shelby M.
23. “Losing all the feeling in my limbs. The first time it happened I thought I was having a seizure or something, but later on I learned it was my anxiety.” — Helmi N.
24. “Depersonalization or derealization. This happens to me often during a panic attack; it feels like my mind has left my body. I always thought I was the only person in the world having this problem. But I’ve found this symptom is a lot more common than I first thought.” — Kayte E.
25. “I have a very odd nervous tic. Some people think it’s gross. But whenever I get real anxious, I will pick at the calluses on the bottom of my feet, sometimes until they are bloody raw.” — Dorianne M.
26. “Shaking. I shake every day until I take my afternoon vitamin that calms me down. It’s hard to paint my nails, put on makeup or write my hands are so shaky.” — Jamie J.
27. “I rub my teeth together and make rhythmic movements or sounds with them, I’ve been doing this for years. And it is annoying and hurts my jaw but I keep doing it.” — Tylee T.
28. “My speech patterns. If I get extremely anxious then I’ll stutter and slur my words. Oftentimes I just won’t talk at all cause I don’t want to mess up.” — Alyssa B.
29. “Missing out on life. Feeling like I’m downing in air. Nausea and vomiting and all the overwhelming thoughts and suicidal thoughts.” — Kaylyn W.
30. “I’m removed and I become so hyper-aware of myself and the world around me — the slightest movement and the quietest sound, everything becomes so much more than it is.” — Elizabeth R.
31. “My body shivers like I’m cold but I get really hot and feel like I’m going to melt. I can’t keep eye contact. I pick at my nail polish without realizing I’m doing it.” — Stephanie C.
32. “Isolation. Thinking everyone is against me and anything I do is ultimately wrong.” — Julie Y.