This group of problems is typically recognised by symptoms of over-arousal. The symptoms can relate to some specific event or trigger, they can occur quite frequently, or there could be a generalised (underlying) level of anxious discomfort.

Symptoms of anxiety include feeling:

  • nervous, restless, keyed up, or on edge;
  • being easily fatigued;
  • feeling tense and/or trembling;
  • having difficulty falling or staying asleep;
  • feeling lightheaded or dizzy;
  • irritability; and
  • poor concentration.

Panic can be described and an extreme and overwhelming version of anxiety. Apart from the above symptoms being magnified, this issue can include other symptoms such as:

  • heart racing or pounding;
  • sweating;
  • sensations of shortness of breath or smothering;
  • chest pain;
  • feeling faint;
  • feeling chilled or hot;
  • sensations of numbness or tingling;
  • feeling detached from reality or oneself; and
  • feeling that you are losing control, "going crazy", or even dying.

Panic attacks sometimes feel like they occur "for no reason".

Excessive and irrational fear is generally referred to as a phobia. Some common phobias include agoraphobia (a fear of going out, e.g. to go shopping), claustrophobia (a fear of being closed-in, e.g. in an elevator), and social phobia (a fear of being judged negatively by others).

People generally try to cope by adopting avoidance strategies. However, that makes this type of problem even worse. An effective treatment would involve Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (including Relaxation Training) to provide the psychological skills required to systematically confront these problems, and overcome them.

General information only; not specific personal advice. Do not make decision based solely on information on this website. See a health professional for advice about your specific problems. Symptom lists are based primarily on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition diagnostic criteria (by the American Psychiatric Association, 2013).