Module 3: Assessment

Lesson 5

Symptoms of anxiety

Anxiety is manifested in affective, cognitive, somatic, and behavioural domains, and these manifestations are modulated by three major neurotransmitters: norepinephrine, serotonin, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).

Disturbances in serotonin have been observed across different types of anxiety disorders, and the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in the treatment plan is often successful.

  • Affective:  Manifestations in this domain include the experience of foreboding, dread, panic, apprehension, irritability, overreaction, frustration, or intolerance. They are often accompanied by primarily autonomic sympathetic hyperactivity.
  • Cognitive: This may include attempts by the individual to make sense of the symptoms.
  • Behaviours:  A range of behaviours have been associated with anxiety including avoidance, restlessness, distractibility, apathy, preoccupations, compulsions, and repetitive behaviours (e.g., nail biting).
  • Somatic:  Common somatic manifestations include dry mouth, palpitations, loss of appetite, fatigue, sweating, hyperventilation, diarrhea, chest pain, paresthesia, and vomiting.