Understand what anxiety can look and feel like and the effect it can have on your daily life.

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What does anxiety feel like and how can it affect me?

Because there are different levels and types of anxiety, the feelings and effects can look and feel different for everyone.

For example, anxiety can look like:

  • Feeling dizzy, light-headed, and nauseated before public speaking
  • Becoming frozen when asked to go to dinner with people you've never met
  • Being unable to focus at work or sit still
  • Lying in bed unable to sleep because of distressing and repetitive thoughts.

Scroll down to learn more about the common thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations of anxiety.

Thoughts and feelings

When you experience anxiety, it tends to be about things that are out of your control.

As a result, you may have thoughts and feelings about all the possible outcomes (both good and bad) that could occur.

When you're experiencing anxiety, you might feel:

  • Worried about something bad happening
  • A general sense of dread or doom
  • Self-conscious about other people looking at or talking about you
  • Overwhelmed with negative thoughts
  • Like you’re experiencing repetitive or excessive thoughts
  • Worried about the feeling of anxiety itself.
I was like a duck on a pond – the surface looked still and serene, but underwater my legs were paddling furiously trying to stay afloat.

Physical effects

Because anxiety is part of your body's stress response, it's common to feel physical sensations.

When you're experiencing anxiety, you might also notice:

  • A racing or pounding heart or an irregular heartbeat
  • Sudden or excessive sweating
  • Rapid, shallow breathing
  • Muscle aches or other pain
  • Stomach discomfort (nausea or diarrhoea)
  • Feeling light-headed
  • Shakiness
  • Fatigue
  • The urge to fidget, pace or bite your nails
  • Panic attacks.
  • How else can anxiety affect me?

    In some instances, anxiety can lead to:

    • Difficulty sleeping
    • Loss of appetite
    • Skin irritation and hair loss
    • Irritability
    • Loss of libido
    • Isolation and loneliness.

To learn more about what it's like to live with anxiety, you can:

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