Definition and basic symptoms of anxiety

basic symptoms of anxiety

Definition and basic symptoms of anxiety

Definition and basic symptoms of anxiety 1792 1024 Paterakis Michalis
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Anxiety is a common mental health condition characterised by persistent worry, fear or discomfort that can affect your daily life.

Physical symptoms such as palpitations or trembling hands often occur, as well as emotional symptoms such as feelings of fear or panic.

Recognising these symptoms is essential as they are the signs that tell you it is time to seek help.

What anxiety means from a psychoanalytical point of view

From a psychoanalytic point of view, anxiety is a multifaceted psychological phenomenon closely related to unconscious conflicts and the interaction between the different components of the mind. Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, identified anxiety as a signal of unresolved conflicts between the  id , the ego  and the  superego.


That is the most primitive and instinctual part of the psyche, representing innate biological drives and desires. It operates on the pleasure principle, seeking immediate gratification and pleasure without concern for consequences. It is impulsive, irrational and unconscious, driving basic instincts such as hunger, thirst and sexual desires.


The ego is reality-oriented that develops in response to the demands of the external world. It operates on the principle of reality, aiming to satisfy the ego’s desires in a socially acceptable and realistic way. The ego acts as a mediator between the impulsive id and the moralistic superego, balancing immediate needs with the constraints of reality.


The superego represents internalized moral standards, social norms, and the individual’s sense of right and wrong. It develops through the internalization of parental and social values during the process of socialization. The superego acts as a moral guide, imposing moral standards and imposing feelings of guilt or shame when the individual deviates from these standards.

According to psychoanalytic theory, anxiety serves as a defense mechanism that the ego uses to manage the tension between the conflicting demands of id and the superego. The mind’s attempts to deal with these conflicts can lead to heightened states of anxiety. Unresolved issues from early psychosexual development, such as the oedipal complex, are also thought to influence the formation of anxiety patterns later in life.

By gaining insight into the underlying causes of anxiety, individuals can work towards resolving underlying conflicts and developing more adaptive coping mechanisms.

In summary, from a psychoanalytic perspective, anxiety is viewed as a complex reaction to internal conflicts and as a signal of unresolved psychological tensions. Understanding and addressing these underlying conflicts form the basis of psychoanalytic interventions aimed at alleviating anxiety and promoting psychological well-being.

Understanding stress

To truly understand the effects of anxiety, it’s important to know that this mental health condition is more than just occasional worry or fear – it’s a constant battle between emotional and physical symptoms. The causes of anxiety are varied, stemming from dna, life events or even everyday stressors acting as triggers. Understanding these triggers is crucial for effective management.

Coping techniques such as mindfulness, exercise and therapy can help you regain control. However, the impact on relationships can be profound, straining communication and emotional bonds. It is vital to develop a support system and share your experiences with those close to you. In doing so, you create an environment that is conducive to managing your stress effectively.

Common indicators of stress

By identifying common indicators of stress, you will notice that your body and mind often react to stress with a range of symptoms that can disrupt your daily life. Understanding the triggers is crucial; it helps you identify what triggers your anxiety.

By managing anxiety through various coping strategies, you are taking a proactive step towards maintaining your well-being. Seeking support from friends, family or professionals can provide you with a network of understanding and help.

In addition, incorporating self-care techniques into your routine can enhance your resilience. From deep breathing exercises to mindfulness, these coping strategies serve as tools for navigating stressful times, ensuring that you don’t have to cope alone.

Exploring emotional symptoms

Beyond the physical manifestations of anxiety, you will likely experience a range of emotional symptoms that can be equally debilitating, altering your mood and perspective on life.

This exploration of anxiety is not only about identifying these psychological effects, but also about understanding how they affect your daily life.

You may feel overwhelmed by persistent anxiety, a sense of fear, or an unexplained sadness that seems to have no clear cause.

It is important to develop coping strategies that work for you, whether through mindfulness practices, conversations, or activities that bring you joy.

Do not hesitate to seek professional support. Therapists can provide you with personalized guidance to help you overcome these emotional symptoms and regain control of your emotional well-being.

Physical manifestations

You may notice your body’s reaction to stress with physical symptoms such as palpitations and muscle tension. These are the physical manifestations of stress, which can be just as revealing as the emotional ones. Your heart may pound, your palms may sweat and you may feel a tightness in your chest – these are all physiological changes associated with stress.

The physical symptoms don’t stop there: you may have shortness of breath, dizziness or even stomach upset. These physical signs are your body’s way of signalling that it is in a heightened state of alert.

Understanding these manifestations of anxiety is crucial because it helps you recognize when to seek help and how to explain your experience to health professionals.

Cognitive implications

Anxiety can cloud your judgment, making it difficult to make decisions or focus on current tasks. This cognitive impairment affects how you process information and respond to the world around you. Your thought patterns may be disrupted, leading to difficulty in making decisions. You may notice that even simple choices become overwhelming and you constantly question yourself.

In addition, stress can affect your memory function. You may have difficulty recalling important details or learning new information. This is often due to attention difficulties; your mind may be so consumed by stress that it can’t focus on anything else.

Understanding these cognitive effects is crucial to managing anxiety and seeking appropriate help.

Sleep disorders

This is a common issue for those suffering from anxiety, as the condition can significantly affect the quality of sleep. Nightmares caused by anxiety can disrupt your sleep, leaving you feeling exhausted during the day.

To combat these sleep disturbances, consider insomnia management strategies and sleep hygiene tips. Establish a routine aimed at restful sleep and create a comfortable sleep environment. Engage in relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, meditation or progressive muscle relaxation. These practices can help calm your mind and facilitate a more restful night’s sleep.

Daily activities and stress
During your daily activities, the disturbing symptoms of anxiety can abruptly interrupt even the simplest of tasks. Disruptions at work are common, with lapses in concentration and a persistent sense of anxiety that can lead to decreased productivity.

You may find social situations increasingly difficult, experiencing social constraints because you are anxious about interactions or fear being judged. This often results in you avoiding gatherings or activities you once enjoyed.

Relationship tension can also surface as anxiety makes it difficult to communicate effectively or be emotionally available. In addition, you may experience impaired decision making as stress clouds your judgment and makes it difficult to choose confidently.

The importance of psychotherapy in managing anxiety

Psychotherapy, or counselling, can be beneficial in managing anxiety . Anxiety has a significant impact on both mental and physical wellbeing and psychotherapy addresses the underlying psychological factors that contribute to it.

Psychotherapy provides a safe space for individuals to explore and understand the sources of their anxiety. Identifying specific stressors is crucial to developing effective coping strategies.

Therapists can help individuals challenge and reframe negative thought patterns that contribute to anxiety. This cognitive restructuring can lead to more adaptive and healthy ways of thinking, reducing overall anxiety levels.

Learning how to manage emotions is a key component of many psychotherapeutic approaches. Developing emotional regulation skills helps individuals cope with stress in a more constructive way, preventing negative effects on physical health.

Psychotherapy often involves teaching practical strategies for managing stress, such as time management, problem solving and relaxation techniques.

Therapists often work with clients to develop individualized self-care routines. Engaging in activities that promote relaxation and well-being can counteract the negative effects of stress on physical health.

It is important to note that the effectiveness of psychotherapy may vary depending on individual factors, the specific type of therapy used and the nature of the stressors involved.

Effective therapeutic approaches

To treat anxiety, you will find that a combination of therapy and medication is often the most effective approach. Cognitive-behavioral therapy, for example, can help you understand and change the thought patterns that contribute to your anxiety. In terms of medication options, your doctor may prescribe antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications to manage your symptoms.

Beyond conventional methods, holistic approaches and alternative therapies are gaining momentum. Practices such as yoga and acupuncture can offer relief. Mindfulness techniques, such as meditation, can also be powerful tools in managing your anxiety.

Don’t underestimate the value of support groups either. Connecting with others facing similar struggles can provide comfort and insights, enhancing your overall treatment plan.

Contacting a psychologist psychotherapist

While researching treatment options for anxiety, it is vital that you communicate openly with your psychologist or psychotherapist to effectively tailor your treatment. The benefits of treatment are maximized when you are honest about your feelings, challenges, and progress. Effective communication strategies, such as sharing your thoughts and asking questions, play an important role in psychotherapy. They are vital to building a therapeutic relationship based on trust and understanding.

The importance of open communication cannot be overstated. It ensures that your therapist understands your unique experience with anxiety, which helps to develop a personalized treatment plan. Remember, your therapist is there to support you, and honesty can lead to more effective sessions and, ultimately, a more satisfying journey in managing your anxiety.

In conclusion

You are not alone in this struggle and it is vital that you recognise that anxiety is manageable.

By understanding the symptoms and how it affects your daily life, you have taken a critical first step.

Remember that reaching out to a psychologist or psychotherapist can pave the way for effective treatments.

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The process of psychotherapy requires commitment, dedication and is only for those who are serious about changing their lives. If you are considering embarking on this journey, call me at 211 71 51 801 to make an appointment and let’s see together how I can help you.

Michael Paterakis

Psychologist Psychotherapist

37 Karneadou Street, Kolonaki

I accept By appointment

Tel: 211 7151 801


    Πατεράκης Μιχάλης
    Ψυχολόγος Αθήνα


      Psychologist Athens