Physical Symptoms You Might Not Realize Are Actually Anxiety

I have experienced anxiety and depression at various times in my life. Certain situations or events can trigger a panic attack or a time of depression. Before I was first diagnosed with these conditions many years ago, I had no idea what was happening or what to expect from my body.


Through help from doctors, my family, and my own body, I have learned to recognize certain physical symptoms that often occur with my anxiety. Each person is different in their journey with anxiety. What I experience may not be what you or another person experience. We are individuals and our bodies are different.


I am thankful that over the years my husband has learned to recognize certain symptoms or behaviors from my body that indicate anxiety is happening. Often, my husband will recognize these symptoms before I am aware of the situation. He stays calm and is able to alert me and help if needed.


For myself, I am glad to be able to recognize certain physical symptoms and seek treatment or ways to combat the anxiety from going further.


Life can be going great for me and out of nowhere, anxiety sets in. Maybe something has happened or possibly a memory triggered anxiety. Also, there are times when I have no clue why anxiety is visiting my body again.


My husband is usually the first to notice. At one point, he asked me if I realized I was twiddling my thumbs rapidly. I had not realized I was moving my thumbs at all. I learned twiddling my thumbs is a physical symptom of my anxiety.

Another example for me is when I have an unexplained stomach ache. Pain begins and at times makes me want to double over. My doctor shared how the stomach and the brain work together and when one is out of balance, the other can be affected. 

One more example is my breathing. When I find myself breathing rapidly and I am sitting still, this lets me know anxiety may be elevating. I am thankful for deep breathing exercises which help calm me and slow my breathing back to normal during anxiety.


These are just a few physical symptoms that let me know anxiety is happening. I’m sure there are others and I will learn to deal with those as they appear.


Remember to contact a medical professional, family member, or friend when you feel anxious. You do not have to deal with the anxiety by yourself. 



Melissa Henderson is a writer of inspirational messages. Her first book for children, “Licky the Lizard”, was released in 2018. She also has a story in the compilations “Heaven Sightings” and “Remembering Christmas”. She contributes articles and devotions to various magazines and websites. Her passions are helping in community and church. Melissa is an Elder, Deacon, and Stephen Minister. She and her husband Alan moved from Virginia to South Carolina to be near son, daughter-in-love, and first grandchild. The family motto is “It’s Always A Story With The Hendersons”.

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19 thoughts on “Physical Symptoms You Might Not Realize Are Actually Anxiety

  1. Thanks for always sharing such needed and vulnerable posts with us, Melissa. I was diagnosed with anxiety 13 years ago for the first time. All of a sudden I began to experience panic attacks. I couldn’t quite connect why, but I sought help from my doctor. It has presented itself in milder forms when my dad passed away or when something stressful happened since that time.

    Then in January this year, because of a traumatic experience, it came back on in severity. Panic attacks, not able to sleep or eat, and a general sense of anxiety with some of your same symptoms. Thankful with the help of medication again, I’m doing much better although I still have triggers as you mentioned.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience Karen. I am thankful you are better. Those triggers can occur without notice and we definitely have to be alert to that possibility. Praying for you dear friend.

  2. Anxiety is something I also battle. Mine seems to have been triggered by sexual assault as a teen. Therapy was helpful when I finally sought help in my thirties. I find that when anxiety overwhelms me, I attempt to “keep everyone safe” by attempting to control the situation. Of course, this is impossible. When I recognize that inner fear/anxiety/control combo, that is my signal to back up and give it over to the Lord. Prayer helps. Soothing oils and aroma therapies do, too. And for the period when it was at its worst, an anti-anxiety medication worked well. Thank you for sharing about this, Melissa. You opened the door for us to talk openly about a struggle that is common to so many people.

    1. Thank you Melinda. Sharing our stories can help others. I have learned ways to help when those anxiety attacks occur. I have medication and coping mechanisms. I am thankful for everyone who shares their experiences. Praying for you dear friend.

      1. Thank you, Melissa. Your transparency here is such a great blessing. I’m also lifting you up in prayer and so many others I know who are especially struggling with anxiety right now. We are legion. 🙂 God bless you, dear sister and friend.

  3. This is really helpful. My daughter experienced a ton of physical symptoms before she was diagnosed with anxiety… including stomach aches. We were constantly at the gastroenterologist until we finally figured out the cause was anxiety. Thank you for this helpful info!

    1. Tummy aches get me, too. I didn’t even think to mention it before, until I read your comment. I have IBS, which started soon after we experienced the Columbine massacre from across the street. This conversation that Melissa started is so welcome for talking about this right now, to puzzle the whys and the signs. I’m glad you could figure out your daughter’s physical symptoms.

    2. Jessica, I never realized how the brain and the stomach are related. After many trips to various doctors, I finally found a great doctor who explained my anxiety in a way I had never heard. Praying your daughter is well. Thank you for reading and commenting dear friend.

  4. I had a scary first grade teacher and LOTS of stomach aches. We did test after test with no diagnosis, but when the school year ended, so did my stomach aches. Imagine that. The grown up version is called IBS, which is usually caused by … you guessed it, anxiety!

  5. Thank you for sharing this important and helpful experience for all of us to be aware of how stress and anxiety can manifest itself physically. I have seen stress and anxiety seep out and display itself in and through my body. It’s God’s beautiful design of our bodies, so we can recognize our inner being and seek the healing we need, whether spiritual, emotional or physical. Thank you for your life-giving ministry, Melissa.

    1. Thank you Melissa. Amen, God has created a beautiful design of our bodies. Yes, I pray we will seek healing. God is listening to our pleas. Stress can present in different ways in each of us. We need to be alert and ready to seek help when needed. Thank you for reading and commenting. 🙂

  6. This information is so helpful. Our minds ponder our symptoms, and our symptoms and anxiety grow. But when we understand our own thinking, we can help ourselves. I now recognize my own symptoms of anxiety. Mind and body interact much more than we realize. A very helpful post!

  7. Great timing for this post. I thinking many of us do experience symptoms of anxiety right now and don’t realize it. I know I have felt it at times. Praying for all of us to find ways to cope. Thanks

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