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How Anxiety Affects You In Ways You May Not Fully Realize

Westside Behavioral Care / Blog - Anxiety  / How Anxiety Affects You In Ways You May Not Fully Realize
How Anxiety Affects You In Ways You May Not Fully Realize

When most people hear the word “anxiety,” they think about sweaty palms being unable to sit still, and the jitters. This is true for many people but doesn’t illustrate the complete picture. Anxiety is a far more complex condition than most people realize. The WHO estimates that 260 million adults worldwide have anxiety, with most people presenting symptoms before the age of 21.

anxious woman by her computerThe science behind anxiety is well-known. As your body anticipates something happening, it triggers a reaction in the amygdala. This is the area in your brain that sends distress signals to the hypothalamus. The signals are then redirected to the rest of your body. Your heart rate quickens. Blood rushes to your brain and muscles. A rush of adrenaline forces you to fight or flee.

Most symptoms of anxiety are well-known, but some people experience a completely different set of symptoms that aren’t traditionally associated with anxiety at all. This article will ignore the commonly known problems of anxiety. It will focus on lesser-known symptoms that people would never guess were symptoms of anxiety at all.


A 2017 paper published in the Journal of Psychology and Cognition suggests that anxiety and perfectionism go hand-in-hand.

Anxious people have a profound fear of wondering what others think. They resort to over-thinking and over-analyzing their actions to avoid criticism and exhibit perfectionist behaviors instead. Left neglected, this can transform into depression, eating disorders, or even suicidal tendencies. This is especially problematic given how perfectionism in the workplace is seen as a positive virtue by many, so the problem goes unchecked.


This is a popular coping mechanism among many anxious people. People that experience chronic anxiety have a low tolerance for stressful situations of any kind. As a result, they begin to postpone presentations, procrastinate important tasks, and cancel plans altogether.

They might never realize they are avoiding things consciously either. This is the “flight” in the “fight or flight” response, but it occurs before the threat even presents itself. An anxious person might notice they are feeling stressed over an event and exit before they ever have to confront it. It becomes a habit that is quickly internalized and becomes a problematic coping mechanism.


serious woman using a laptop indoorsThis symptom is rarely spoken of because it’s not quite fully understood yet. Depersonalization can make you feel disconnected from your environment, from the people around you, or distort your sense of self. It’s well-known that people with anxiety are far more likely to exhibit depersonalization than regular people. This problem is more severe than regular anxiety and requires treatment in its own right.

Cold Hands and Feet

Everyone knows anxiety can trigger a fight or flight response. This, in turn, directs your body’s blood supply to important organs such as your heart and away from less important things such as your fingers and toes.

Even though a person is otherwise completely healthy, they might begin to have ice-cold toes and fingers while the rest of their body is perfectly warm. This is a sign the nervous system is overactive and can lead to jitters and shakiness if left neglected.


Anxious people are prone to something known as catastrophizing. This is a state of mind that makes someone assume worst-case scenarios with everything that happens.

This, in turn, leads to people feeling scared of the decisions they take, thinking that small actions can have large, devastating consequences unless they absolutely make sure to choose the right option.

Indecisiveness results because taking an action, any action, can seem incredibly high-stakes and scary.


It’s not unusual for anxious people to commonly experience acid reflux, stomach pains, and nausea. They might believe they are allergic to certain foods when in reality, their constant fight or flight response is playing havoc with their digestive system instead. Chronic anxiety can damage the stomach lining, the esophagus and make any diet unpleasant.

Low-Stress Tolerance

anxious young woman holding a pillowHealthy people have a healthy tolerance for stress in their lives. Anxious people deal with constant stress and have warped reactions to normal things instead. The smallest inconveniences become huge ordeals because of catastrophizing. Regular bursts of adrenaline without enough rest make them more prone to crying and not being able to deal with small frustrations in their lives. This can lead to problems as small to insomnia to bigger problems such as high blood pressure.

Do you or anyone you know suffer from these symptoms? You might be experiencing the lesser-known symptoms of anxiety.

Sometimes it’s not enough to tackle anxiety with lifestyle changes and diet alone. You need to tackle the problem from several different points by looking at every facet of your life.

Westside Behavioral Care has several Humana therapists who provide treatments to fit most needs. Scroll through the Humana anxiety therapists.