Hidden Symptoms Of Anxiety And Depression

Updated March 21, 2023by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Content Warning: This article mentions self-harm and suicide. If you think you may hurt yourself or someone else, reach out for help immediately. Call 911 in the United States and consider calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or texting the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988. 

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety and depressive disorders are some of the most common mental illnesses in the United States, with around 1 in 5 Americans experiencing an anxiety disorder at some point in the past year. However, while some symptoms of depression and anxiety are well known, other symptoms are less commonly discussed. Familiarizing yourself with both the common and hidden symptoms of anxiety and depression can help you determine whether it’s time to reach out for help.  

Unsure Why Your Stomach Hurts?

The Link Between Anxiety And Depression

Anxiety and depression commonly co-occur, with around 60% of people with anxiety also experiencing symptoms of depression (and vice versa). While it isn’t entirely clear why these disorders frequently co-occur, psychologists hypothesize that the neurological triggers of anxiety and depression are similar, or that overlapping symptoms make it possible for many to meet the diagnosable criteria of both anxiety disorders and depressive disorders. 

The co-occurrence of these disorders can make them more difficult to diagnose, especially because anxiety and depression can both cause psychosomatic symptoms that are seemingly unrelated to mental illness. For example, some people with depression may tell their doctor that they have been falling down frequently. While falling may be a result of old age or an underlying physical condition, it can be caused by depression. If you have any physical or psychological symptoms that are unusually, you should consider reaching out to your medical practitioner. They can rule out underlying medical conditions and provide you with a diagnosis. 

Common Symptoms Of Anxiety

In general, people with anxiety disorders commonly experience:

  • Cold hands

  • Sweating

  • Dry mouth 

  • Numbness 

  • Muscle tension 

  • Rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and/or heart palpitations 

  • Panic 

  • Racing thoughts 

  • Overwhelming worry 

  • Inability to stay calm or sit still

  • Sleeping difficulties

Depending on the type(s) of anxiety you have, you may experience different symptoms. Some of the most common types of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and social anxiety disorder (which is a type of phobia). 

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by worry and stress that may not have a specific trigger. People with GAD often experience: 

  • Feelings of restlessness

  • Inability to concentrate

  • Trouble sleeping

Panic disorder is characterized by intense episodes of panic attacks. Since the symptoms of panic disorder can mimic serious medical conditions, you may want to seek medical attention to ensure you’re physically healthy. Typical symptoms of panic disorder include: 

  • Racing heartbeat

  • Sense of dread or feeling like you’re dying

  • Heart palpations 

  • Sweating

  • Shaking

  • Shortness of breath

Social anxiety disorder is a phobia of social situations. People with social anxiety may experience the following symptoms: 

  • Avoidance

  • Self-consciousness 

  • Overwhelming worry or fear of judgement 

  • Sweating

  • Clammy skin

  • Trembling voice 

  • Blushing

  • Indigestion

  • Trouble making eye contact

Common Symptoms Of Depression

Major depressive disorder, also called clinical depression, is a psychiatric disorder characterized by overwhelming sadness that disrupts daily functioning. The symptoms many people are familiar with include: 

  • Overwhelming sadness, hopelessness, or feelings of worthlessness

  • Lacking interest in activities you used to find enjoyable

  • Changes in sleeping habits (such as sleeping too little, too much, or sleeping during the day)

  • Feeling tired or fatigued easily

  • Changes in appetite and/or weight

  • Forgetfulness, less attention to detail, and difficulty concentrating

  • Experiencing guilt, blaming yourself, feeling weak, or feeling like a burden

  • Self-harm

  • Suicidal ideation

If you think you may hurt yourself or someone else, reach out for help immediately. Call 911 in the United States and consider calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or texting the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988. 

Unsure Why Your Stomach Hurts?

Common (But Infrequently Discussed) Symptoms Of Anxiety And Depression

Anxiety and depression can cause a wide variety of physical and psychological symptoms, but many of them are not talked about. Common but under-discussed symptoms include the following: 

  • Gastrointestinal issues: Stress releases hormones that can make it difficult for the body to control normal gastrointestinal functioning. This can trigger symptoms such as diarrhea, indigestion, heart burn, nausea, cramps, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). 

  • Tinnitus: While research is unclear on the causal relationship between anxiety and tinnitus (ringing in the ears), studies reveal that they are closely linked, and that stress might be a possible trigger of anxiety. 

  • Skin problems: Anxiety and stress can cause flareups of skin conditions like psoriasis, rosacea, acne, and eczema. Anxiety may also cause itching, burning sensations, rashes, or hives. 

  • Numbness, tingling, or “pins and needles” sensation: These symptoms are particularly common during a panic attack, when the heartrate increases, and blood vessels become constricted. Constricted blood vessels can reduce blood flow to extremities, causing temporary tingling or numbness that can feel frightening during a panic attack. 

  • Phantom smells: Also called olfactory hallucination, phantom smells are sometimes seen in people with anxiety disorders

  • Globus hystericus: Anxiety can cause the sensation of a lump in your throat (technically called globus hystericus). The sensation can make it feel difficult to swallow or breath, and it can become a medical emergency in rare circumstances. Globus hystericus can result from muscle tension experienced during high periods of stress, and you may be able to reduce the sensation by drinking water or getting some light exercise. 

  • Dissociation: Dissociation is characterized by feeling disconnected from your body, floating outside your body, or as if you’re living in a dream or video game. It’s frequently experienced by people who have experienced trauma, but it’s also commonly experienced by people with an anxiety disorder or depressive disorder. 

  • Dry eyes and blurred vision: Stress, depression, and anxiety are linked to experiencing dry eyes, which can cause blurred vision. 

  • Unexplained physical pain: According to Harvard Health, more than half of people who reach out for help with their depression also experience physical pain. Common types of pain include back pain, migraines, gastrointestinal distress, and nerve pain. 

  • Irritability: Many people know that depression can cause sadness and hopelessness, but those are not the only common symptoms. Irritability, or a heightened proneness to anger, is a very common predictor of psychiatric disorders later in life (including anxiety and depression) as well as a very common symptom of depression. 

  • Anger attacks: Anger attacks are similar to panic attacks, though they occur without symptoms of fear and anxiety. Anger attacks are characterized by inappropriate outbursts of anger, and they are very common, with an estimated 30-40% of people with depression experiencing them. 

  • Perfectionism: Perfectionism is a character trait that is linked to anxiety disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorder. While it’s not necessarily a symptom of anxiety, perfectionism can drive extremely high standards and inflexible beliefs, making perfectionists more likely to experience low self-worth and anxiety.  

  • Poor temperature control: Anxiety often causes sweating, hot flashes, chills, blushing, or shivering, which may occur in response to altered heart rate and irregular vasodilation and vasoconstriction. 

  • Restlessness: Anxiety and depression can cause an uncomfortable need to fidget or move, which can make it difficult to relax, sleep, or concentrate

  • Trichotillomania: Also called hair pulling, trichotillomania can develop as a coping mechanism to deal with uncomfortable symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

  • Falling frequently: Depression can make people less aware of their surroundings, which can make them more likely to fall. According to Dr. Anne Fabiny, this symptom may be common in older adults. 

The Importance Of Getting Help

You cannot diagnose depression or anxiety on your own, and these disorders are unlikely to get better without help. If you’re experiencing any of the emotional or mental breakdown symptoms discussed in this article, you should consider reaching out to your medical practitioner or an in-person mental health professional. They can use a diagnostic manual (called the DSM-5) to carefully evaluate your symptoms, and a medical practitioner can run blood tests and conduct a physical exam to rule out physical conditions.

After making a diagnosis, they will likely provide you with a recommended treatment plan. Their recommendation may include one (or both) of the following:

  • Medications

A psychiatrist or your general practitioner can prescribe you with the appropriate medications to help you address your symptoms. According to a study updated in 2020, around 40-60% of people taking antidepressants noticed an improvement in symptoms within 6-8 weeks. In general, the more severe your depression is, the greater the likelihood that antidepressants will be effective. 

  • Psychotherapy

Talk therapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), is shown to be an effective way to address depression and anxiety for most people. Even if you do not meet the diagnostic criteria for a mental illness, you can still reach out for help from a therapist. 

If you want to meet with a therapist as soon as possible, you might want to consider online therapy. One in-person psychiatrist reportedly had 880 patients on their waiting list in 2022, and many people wait 6+ weeks to see an in-person therapist. In contrast, online therapy providers, like BetterHelp, typically match clients with therapists within 48 hours. According to a 2017 study, online CBT can effectively address symptoms of many psychiatric disorders, including anxiety disorders, depression, OCD, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and chronic pain. 


Anxiety and depressive disorders are very common, but some of their symptoms are not frequently discussed. For example, around one-third of individuals with major depressive disorder experience anger attacks, but this symptom is rarely mentioned in self-help pamphlets or blog posts.  

If you are experiencing any symptoms of depression or anxiety (whether commonly discussed or not), you should consider reaching out for help. Online cognitive behavioral therapy is shown to improve symptoms for most people, and it is generally easier compared with in-person therapy.

For additional help & support with your concerns

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started