Many, many people suffer from anxiety symptoms. In fact, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) a staggering 40 million to be exact and that is a whole lot of anxiety!
However, the true figure of anxiety sufferers worldwide is not known. Indeed, it is well documented that many people with anxiety disorder do not seek any medical help or treatment, at all.
Furthermore, according to a 2009 medical study anxiety disorder is one of the most common mental health problems in the world. Why is this?
Some specialists suggest it is because of the ever-increasing demands of the modern world coupled with the onslaught of mobile phones and social media.
This post will examine some of the classic symptoms of anxiety, together with some more unusual symptoms so that you can assess if your anxiety levels are too high for good health.
Classic Anxiety Symptoms
Firstly, nearly all of us will have experienced and recognise some of the classic anxiety symptoms.
However, fear and anxiety, in moderation, have been helpful to our well-being and survival and are a natural part of life.
However, when anxiety takes over there are all sorts of both physical and emotional symptoms that can overwhelm us.
So, before we look at the more unusual signs of anxiety, let’s take a look at some of the classic anxiety symptoms that most of us will be familiar with.
Some Classic Physical Anxiety Symptoms
Some Classic Psychological Anxiety Symptoms
Bizarre Anxiety Symptoms
Much as many of us have experienced the above symptoms of anxiety all too often in our lives, there are quite a few other symptoms that you wouldn’t think are related to anxiety.
We are going to take a look at a few of them below:-
1) Excessive Burping
2) Cold Feet?
There is a reason why the common phrase, ‘have you got cold feet?’ is asked when a person is anxious about some new venture, whether it be a relationship, a planned trip or a new job.
Although, there are many medical reasons why people may suffer with cold feet, and sometimes hands too and anxiety is one of the hidden causes.
Again, the reasons for this are based on the physical response of the body to stress. Firstly, when your body reacts to stress sweating is increased to cool down the body for the expected fight or flight. Thus, the extremities are cooled down.
Secondly, the blood tends to gravitate towards the central organs in preparation to face the threat, leaving the feet and hands cold.
Thirdly, and often overlooked, is that people with anxiety tend to focus much more on altered body sensations (this is why anxiety is linked, in many studies to increased pain) and this only serves to increase the discomfort of cold feet.
3) Excessive Yawning
Yawning is a surprising, yet common symptom of anxiety.
Firstly, in the normal stress response, the heart rate and respiratory rate increases. In addition, the muscles of the body tighten in preparation to either flee from the enemy or fight them (the fight-or-flight response ).
Thus, it is the physical changes that can cause excessive yawning in people suffering from ongoing anxiety, especially those that suffer from anxiety attack.
In addition, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI’s), used in the treatment for some anxiety disorders, have been shown to have a side effect of excessive yawning.
So, if you are suffering from any of the classic symptoms of anxiety and find that you are yawning all the time, this may be a sign to seek medical help.
4) Hot Lips and Burning Tongue
Yes, this one is very odd, but many patients with anxiety suffer with a burning sensation of the mouth. Often patients with burning mouth syndrome may also experience a metallic taste.
The sensation in the mouth or tongue can vary from pain, burning, swelling or tingling.
Interestingly, it is often the tongue that is the most affected but sometimes it can be the whole mouth including the lips, gums and palate.
As mentioned earlier, people with anxiety tend to focus more on any unusual symptoms which only serves to heighten the sensations.
Strangely enough, burning mouth syndrome is not accompanied by any obvious physical causes for the sensation.
5) Brain Lightning or Brain Shivers
This anxiety symptom is not very well recorded and so does not have a proper medical name yet.
It has come about on a lot of internet site forums a strange electrical-type sensation in the brain, head or sometimes both. Sometimes these electrical sensations can shoot from the brain and around the body too. The most commonly-used term for this strange symptom of anxiety is ‘brain shivers‘.
The experience may vary from person to person but common features are ‘electrical’ sensations and dizziness.
According to one clinical trial the earliest reported use of the term ‘brain shivers’ is found in 1999 in relation to withdrawal from the antidepressant drug Venlafaxine, a serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor.
However, since the early 1980’s patients have described electric shock like sensations as well as ‘fizzing’ in the brain and head.
Jeff Aronson, a clinical pharmacologist, in his paper entitled ‘Bottled Lightning’ suggests that a possible medical term for this strange symptom of anxiety would be ‘neurastrapy’, which means “nerve lightning” or encephalastrapy, brain lightning.
What to do if you experience any of these Symptoms
If you suffer from any of the symptoms listed above, firstly try to work out if you have any other of the classic anxiety symptoms.
The first step, according to the American Psychiatric Association, is to seek advice from your family physician to rule out any underlying medical condition.
If your symptoms are related to anxiety, the good news is, that most of these respond very well to treatment.
Questions and Answers
Q: Hi, I suffer from social anxiety and I have an odd symptom. When I am in a social situation, I often blush when somebody speaks to me. However, the blush then escalates to a burning sensation on my face that can last for hours. What do you think?
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- Bystritsky B, Khalsa SS, Cameron ME, Schiffman J. (2013) Current Diagnosis and Treatment of Anxiety Disorders P T. 2013 Jan; 38(1): 30-38, 41-44, 57 (Retrieved August 12th 2016) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23599668
- Abetz LM, Savage NW. (2009) Burning mouth syndrome and psychological disorders. (Retrieved December 15th 2016) Aust Dent J. 2009 Jun;54(2):84-93; quiz 173. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19473148