Nonverbal Signs of Anxiety

Instructor: Julie Zundel

Julie has taught high school Zoology, Biology, Physical Science and Chem Tech. She has a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a Master of Education.

Have you ever been anxious during a particularly special moment? Perhaps you got cold feet before getting married or felt nervous before competing in a tennis match. If you have ever experienced anxiety, you might have already realized that there are many different types. This lesson will discuss some common anxiety disorders and review nonverbal signs for these anxieties.

What is Anxiety?

You're about to walk on stage to deliver a speech. You feel nervous and a little scared. Did you suddenly come down with a case of the stomach butterflies? Probably not. What you experience in this moment is anxiety. Anxiety is the fear of what could happen; for example, maybe you'll trip on the stage, forget the speech, or faint. Perhaps, you fear that the audience will laugh at you because your zipper is down. While feeling nervous before a speech is normal, anxiety becomes a concern when it starts to impact normal life activities. There are many disorders where anxiety is the underlying culprit, from panic attacks where a person feels dizzy, sick and may have challenges breathing; to phobias where people are terrified of specific things like small spaces (claustrophobic) or spiders (arachnophobia).

Nonverbal Signs

A person may tell you he or she is anxious, but what are the nonverbal signs that someone is experiencing anxiety? There are actually quite a few. Let's take a moment to go through the list:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Rapid breathing
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Problems with the digestive system
  • Over eating
  • Under eating
  • Dizziness
  • Hot flashes
  • Chest pains
  • Changes in behavior
  • Addictive behaviors (drugs, drinking)
  • Irritability
  • Increased urination and/or diarrhea
  • Twitching

Sweating is a common nonverbal sign of anxiety

Types of Anxieties

Obviously, the non-verbal list of anxiety signs is quite long and varied. A person who experiences slight anxiety for a speech is probably not going to start drinking heavily. As mentioned previously, there are varying degrees of anxieties. One person may have a fear of spiders, whereas another may be experiencing severe anxiety from a traumatic experiences. Let's take a moment to go over a handful of anxiety disorders. Remember, some sort of anxiety is normal, but when the symptoms do not go away, then it may be a disorder. Also, the symptoms of each disorder may overlap.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account