I feel anxious and panicky

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, worry or fear. Everyone feels anxious at some point in their life, but for some people it can be an ongoing problem.

A little bit of anxiety can be helpful – for example, feeling anxious before an exam might make you more alert and improve your performance.

But too much anxiety could make you tired and unable to concentrate.

Check how anxious you are with our mood self-assessment quiz.

Symptoms of anxiety

Anxiety can have both psychological and physical symptoms.

Psychological symptoms can include:

  • feeling worried or uneasy a lot of the time
  • having difficulty sleeping, which makes you feel tired
  • not being able to concentrate
  • being irritable
  • being extra alert
  • feeling on edge or not being able to relax
  • needing frequent reassurance from other people
  • feeling tearful

When you're feeling anxious or stressed, your body releases stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol.

These cause the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as an increased heart rate and increased sweating.

Physical symptoms can include:

  • a pounding heartbeat
  • breathing faster
  • palpitations (an irregular heartbeat)
  • feeling sick
  • chest pains
  • headaches
  • sweating
  • loss of appetite
  • feeling faint
  • needing the toilet more frequently
  • "butterflies" in your tummy

Anxiety can also be a symptom of another condition, such as panic disorder (when you have panic attacks) or post-traumatic stress disorder, which is caused by frightening or distressing events.


Although everyone has anxiety at some times in their life many people find that these feelings of fear, and worry come along when they are not expecting them. It is for example quite normal to have some feelings of anxiety when starting a new job, having to speak in public, sitting an exam etc but some people find that they have these sort of anxious feelings as a result of everyday problems. In fact some people find themselves spending time worrying about things that seem most unlikely to happen to them or even worrying about the fact that they are worrying.

Anxiety can be seen as a feeling of restlessness and many people suffering from anxiety start to withdraw from forms of social contact, not speaking to friends or family and taking time off work. There are often physical symptoms of anxiety including heart palpitations, insomnia, excessive sweating, dry mouth, trembling or nausea.