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  • Writer's pictureKristie Bray, LPCC

Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

Headaches…Stomach aches…Nausea…Muscle pain…Tension in jaw.


All of these can be signs and symptoms of anxiety. Your autonomic nervous system is to blame.


What is the autonomic nervous system?

It is a system that our body unconsciously controls. It regulates our heart rate, breathing, urination, and sexual functions. It is also the system that operates our fight or flight response. These are a part of the sympathetic nervous system that’s included in our autonomic nervous system.


When we become stressed, have worries, or become anxious the system is activated. It sends out “danger signals” and raises the “warning banner”.

Once this system becomes activated you can have:

  • Headaches

  • nausea

  • Shortness of breath

  • Shakiness

  • Stomach pain

  • Pins and needles

  • Hot flashes and/or sweating

  • Light-headed or dizzy

  • Rashes

Experiencing these symptoms can be scary. Symptoms can mimic other medical conditions and should always be discussed with your doctor to make sure you do not have another underlying medical condition. If all other diagnoses are ruled out, the symptoms you are experiencing can simply be an anxiety or panic attack.


With these warning signs our body can manifest symptoms and cause pain. This is a way for our body to say we don’t like this and want to move on. We may think we are having joint or muscle pain but all these aches and pains could be related to anxiety in our body and our autonomic nervous system being on high alert. Our mind body connection can become so hypersensitive that this stress, worries, or anxious feelings can create physical reactions in our body before we feel the anxiety or notice the situation. However it is important to remember pain is pain and we sometimes have to address both the physical and psychological component of the cause to help us move forward to become pain free.


Kristie Bray, LPCC



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