Anxiety or Just Stress? 16 Signs It’s Time to Seek Help

It’s part of the human condition to experience stress.

In fact, stress can be broken down into two types, one which is beneficial to you (like when stressing out over your vacation leads to spending extra time on the computer and scoring a great deal on a hotel room), and one which can be negative and even detrimental (the kind of stress everyone thinks of when they hear the word).

But what about anxiety?

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, stress is the response you have to a threat in a situation, while anxiety is how you react to the stress.


There are many reactions to stress that fall more into the realm of anxiety. Here are 11 cognitive and emotional anxiety symptoms:

  1. Difficulty concentrating, or feeling like your mind is going blank: Do you have trouble thinking about something long enough to get it done? Or have a hard time finishing sentences during conversation, because your mind becomes a blank slate?
  2. Racing thoughts: Does your mind seem to flit around from one topic to another, never giving you enough time to have a complete thought? Are your thoughts so fast you can’t keep up?
  3. Rumination: Are you thinking about the same thing, over and over and over again? Do you replay conversations or scenarios in your mind endlessly throughout the day?
  4. Excessive worry, often about small, otherwise unimportant things: Are you worried about the guy who gave you a nasty look at the stoplight? Do you feel consumed with worry over whether you picked the right perfume for your mom’so birthday gift?
  5. Irrational fears: Are you afraid of the escalators at the mall? Of eating grapes? Of opening doors with your left hand? Do things that never used to bother you seem to terrify you lately?
  6. Self-doubt: Do you constantly second guess your decisions? Do you feel like you’re not good enough for the good you have in your life?
  7. Feeling very self-conscious in a crowd: Does the thought of being around more than a few people make you sweat? Does the possibility of eating, drinking or talking around other people make you feel nauseated? Do you avoid social settings to avoid these feelings?
  8. Restlessness: Do you have trouble sitting still for more than a few moments at a time? Are you unable to relax? Do you find yourself pacing without even realizing you’d begun?
  9. Difficulty falling or staying asleep: Do your worries keep you up at night? Do you wake up in the middle of the night, thinking about everything that lies ahead in the morning?
  10. Irritability: Are you more short-tempered than you usually are? Do you snap at family, friends and co-workers at the slightest provocation?
  11. Feeling on edge: Do you feel like you’re on the edge of an explosion? Of a total outburst?

Often, people experiencing anxiety also feel physical symptoms*, such as:

  1. Muscle tension: Do you have knots in your shoulders? Do you catch yourself clenching your jaw and balling your fists?
  2. Fatigue: Are you too tired to do otherwise simple tasks, like walking the dog or unloading the dishwasher?
  3. Tension headaches: Do you experience dull, aching head pain? Does it feel like you’ve got a tight band wrapped around your skull?
  4. Chronic indigestion: Do you get an upset stomach, no matter what kind of food you eat?
  5. Panic symptoms: When you become overly stressed, do you feel your heart pounding, have excessive sweating, feel tingly and light-headed, have trouble breathing or swallowing?

*Always be sure to have a physician rule out other causes for these symptoms.

It’s important to note that not all anxiety rises to the level of an Anxiety Disorder, but that therapy can help manage anxiety symptoms that are beginning to create problems in everyday life.

If you’re experiencing several of the reactions on this list and want help, please shoot us an email below. We’ll answer very soon and get you started on your way to feeling better. 



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