Back to Blogs
Blog Img

Anxiety and Stress – Tell Tale Signs

How to tell if someone is suffering from Anxiety and Stress

Everyone experiences anxiety from time to time, but when it becomes a constant it can quickly lead to under performance, mental wear and tear and potentially onto worse. It can be debilitating and destructive.  Often people experiencing anxiety want to hide what is happening to them because they fear they will be misunderstood, marginalised and disadvantaged. 

Taken from the excellent Psyblog here are seven subtle signs, which can help you to recognise if you or someone you know is suffering from anxiety and stress. 

1. Disappearing 

Anxiety can make people feel they want to escape or run away.  People experiencing anxiety may find it hard to continue doing the things they used to do.  For example, they may avoid contact with others in many subtle ways such as avoiding public transport or only going to deserted places. They may also make excuses to avoid social occasions. 

2. Change of eating habits 

People experiencing anxiety may start eating more or a lot less — it takes people in different ways.  The important thing is the change.  Some people who are anxious eat less because they don’t feel hungry or feel too sick to eat or find it hard to keep food down.  Other people may use food as a distraction from their worries.  They might experience constant cravings for sweet foods or anything that redirects their attention away from worries. 

3. Physical symptoms 

While we tend to think of anxiety as being something that is primarily mental, it actually has many physical manifestations.  Indeed, the physical symptoms of anxiety can be extremely varied.  For example, someone experiencing anxiety may complain of headaches or stomach pain.  Some people experience a dry mouth and throat, others feel nauseous, others still might grind their teeth or have the urge to urinate constantly. 

4. Difficulty focusing 

Constant worrying makes it hard to focus.  People describe being a fog, or feeling dizzy or experiencing giddiness. The swirl of anxious thoughts easily distracts from the task at hand which can make doing your job or even carrying out regular household chores much more challenging. 

5. Poor sleep 

Worries can keep people experiencing anxiety awake at night because they are exhausting.  Imagine drinking a double espresso and getting straight into bed.  With all that stimulation running around mind and body, it is difficult to drop off.  Similarly, when waking in the night, all those same anxieties are likely to come to the fore. 

6. Change in appearance 

Like weight, the appearance of people experiencing anxiety can go either way.  Some might start to lose interest in maintaining their physical appearance.  Clothes are not washed or ironed, hair unkempt and personal hygiene can suffer.  Alternatively, anxious people can become even more obsessed with their appearance.  People who are anxious are often perfectionists and their appearance is no different.  Again, a change in this other together with other signs could indicate excessive anxiety. 

7. Need for excessive reassurance 

Anxiety is frequently linked to difficulties making decisions or the avoidance of decisions.  Someone who is unusually anxious may request a lot of reassurance or help with their decisions.  Again, the thing to look for is a change in a person’s normal tendencies. 

These are all signs rather than definitive proof but they may help you to help your colleague, friend or family member recognise it and seek professional guidance. 

Paul Lyons is an experienced CEO, Coach, Speaker, NED and MTQ48 accredited.  As CEO of Mental Toughness Partners, he assists individuals and organisations to develop their mental toughness to improve performance, behaviour and wellbeing.  You can find him at and 

Contact Mental Toughness Partners

Latest Articles