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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    What are the symptoms of anxiety disorder?

  • Find a professional to answer your question

  • beyondblue is a national, independent, not-for-profit organisation working to address issues associated with depression, anxiety and related disorders in Australia.beyondblue is a bipartisan initiative of … View Profile

    The symptoms of anxiety disorders may sometimes be ignored, as they often develop gradually over time. Given that we all experience some anxiety, it can sometimes be hard to know how much is too much.

    Below are some simple checklists for common types of anxiety disorders. They are quick and easy and are designed to help you reflect on your situation or that of someone close to you. They will not provide a diagnosis - for that you need to see a doctor. However, they will tell you if you have symptoms in common with people who have an anxiety disorder.

    Generalised Anxiety Disorder

    For SIX MONTHS or more on more days than not, have you

    • felt very worried
    • found it hard to stop worrying
    • found that your anxiety made it difficult for you to do everyday activities (e.g. work, study, seeing friends and family)?

    If you answered ‘YES’ to ALL of these questions have you also experienced THREE or more of the following:
    • felt restless or on edge
    • felt easily tired
    • had difficulty concentrating
    • felt irritable
    • had muscle pain (e.g. sore jaw or back)
    • had trouble sleeping (e.g. difficulty falling or staying asleep or restless sleep)?

    If you answered ‘YES’ it is important to see a doctor

    Panic Disorder

    Within a 10 MINUTE PERIOD have you felt FOUR OR MORE of the following:
    • sweaty
    • shaky
    • increased heart rate
    • short of breath
    • choked
    • nauseous or pain in the stomach
    • dizzy, lightheaded or faint
    • numb or tingly
    • derealisation (feelings of unreality) or depersonalization (feeling detached from yourself or your surroundings)
    • hot or cold flushes
    • scared of going crazy
    • scared of dying?

    If you answered ‘YES’ to ALL of these questions, have you also:
    felt scared, for ONE MONTH OR MORE, of experiencing these feelings again?

    If you answered ‘YES’ it is important to see a doctor.

    Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

    Have you:
    • experienced or seen something that involved death, injury, torture or abuse and felt very scared or helpless
    • had upsetting memories or dreams of the event for at least ONE month
    • found it hard to go about your daily life (e.g. made it difficult for you to work/study or get along with family and friends)?

    If you answered ‘YES’ to ALL of these questions, have you also experienced at least THREE of the following:
    • avoided activities that remind you of the event
    • had trouble remembering parts of the event
    • felt less interested in doing things you used to enjoy
    • had trouble feeling intensely positive emotions (e.g. love or excitement)
    • thought less about the future (e.g. about career or family goals)?

    AND have you experienced at least TWO of the following:
    • had difficulties sleeping (e.g. had bad dreams, or found it hard to fall or stay asleep)
    • felt easily angry or irritated
    • had trouble concentrating
    • felt on guard
    • been easily startled?

    If you answered ‘YES’, it is important to see a doctor.

    Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

    • Have you:
    • had repetitive thoughts or concerns that are not simply about real life problems (e.g. thoughts that you or people close to you will be harmed)
    • Done the same activity repeatedly and in a very ordered, precise and similar way each time e.g.:
    • constantly washing your hands or clothes, showering or brushing your teeth
    • constantly cleaning, tidying or rearranging in a particular way things at home, at work or in the car
    • constantly checking that doors and windows are locked and/or appliances are turned off
    • felt relieved in the short term by doing these things, but soon felt the need to repeat them
    • recognised that these feelings, thoughts and behaviours were unreasonable
    • found that these thoughts or behaviours take up more than 1 hour a day and/or interfered with your normal routine (e.g. working, studying or seeing friends and family)?

    If you answered ‘YES’ it is important to see a doctor.


    Have you felt very nervous when faced with a specific object or situation e.g.:
    • flying on an aeroplane
    • going near an animal
    • receiving an injection
    • going to a social event?
    Have you avoided a situation that might cause you to face the phobia e.g.:
    • needed to change work patterns
    • not attending social events
    • not getting health check-ups
    • found it hard to go about your daily life (e.g. working, studying or seeing friends and family) because you are trying to avoid such situations?

    If you answered ‘YES’ it is important to see a doctor.

    Some people who have symptoms of anxiety disorder can also experience symptoms of other disorders too. For more information on other mental health problems see beyondblue depression checklists, signs and symptoms of postnatal depression and signs and symptoms of bipolar disorder.

    If the symptoms of anxiety are left untreated, they can start to take over the person's life. Not only can it affect the person with the disorder, but it can also start to affect relationships with family and friends. For example, untreated anxiety disorders can lead to:
    •     marriage problems
    •     family problems
    •     financial problems
    •     difficulty finding and holding down a job
    •     drug and alcohol abuse
    •     a person losing their temper too easily
    •     suicide.

  • 2


    Renee Mill

    Clinical Psychologist, Psychologist

    Empowering people is my passion and life work. I have been working as a Clinical Psychologist in private practice for over thirty years. I have … View Profile

    Beyond Blue has given you a comprehensive list of symptoms. What I would like to add ,that may be helpful, is what I observed over thirty years - any physical symptom can be a presentation of anxiety. 

    If you have any problem like head aches, sweating, rashes discomfort etc ,and doctors cannot find a physical cause, then anxiety may be the underlying cause. Treatment for anxiety can often take away the symptoms. 

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