Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today


An Anxiety Checklist

Anxiety—it's more than just nerves

ZiCarlo van Aalderen/flikr
Source: ZiCarlo van Aalderen/flikr

“Doc, I’ve got a case of nerves. I’m just nervous all the time.”

“My nerves are just shot. I’m a nervous wreck.”

We commonly think of anxiety as a nervous condition. But anxiety is not simply a feeling of nervousness. It involves a range of bodily sensations, thought processes, and related behaviors.

An Anxiety Checklist

The following checklist can help you identify signs of anxiety. Anxiety is experienced differently by different people, but many people who have problems with anxiety report the kinds of bodily symptoms and associated behaviors and thoughts listed below. Which apply to you, and how often?

Bodily Sensations Associated with Anxiety:

Often Some- Rarely


_____ _____ _____ Feeling jumpy or jittery

_____ _____ _____ Hands or limbs trembling or shaking

_____ _____ _____ Feels like a tight band is tied around your forehead

_____ _____ _____ Sensations of tightness in the chest or in the pit of the stomach

_____ _____ _____ Perspiring heavily or having sweaty palms

_____ _____ _____ Sensations of light-headedness, faintness, or dizziness

_____ _____ _____ Feelings of dryness in the mouth or throat

_____ _____ _____ Having difficulty talking

_____ _____ _____ Having difficulty catching your breath

_____ _____ _____ Experiencing shortness of breath or shallow breathing

_____ _____ _____ Feels like your heart is pounding or racing

_____ _____ _____ Unsteadiness in your voice

_____ _____ _____ Fingers or limbs feel cold or clammy

_____ _____ _____ Experiencing a "lump in the throat" or difficulty swallowing

_____ _____ _____ Sensations of choking or smothering

_____ _____ _____ Upset stomach, nausea, or diarrhea

_____ _____ _____ Need to urinate more frequenty than usual

_____ _____ _____ Feeling on "edge" or irritable

Behaviors Associated with Anxiety:

_____ _____ _____ Avoiding particular situations because of fear

_____ _____ _____ Becoming agitated for no apparent reason

_____ _____ _____ Clinging to others or relying on them for security

_____ _____ _____ Using alcohol of other drugs to calm your nerves

Thoughts Associated with Anxiety:

_____ _____ _____ Worrying all the time

_____ _____ _____ Thinking you're about to lose control

_____ _____ _____ Thinking that something terrible is about to happen, with no clear cause

_____ _____ _____ Thinking about what's happening in your body

_____ _____ _____ Feeling a vague sense of dread or apprehension

_____ _____ _____ Thinking you won't be able to cope with your problems

_____ _____ _____ Thinking that the world is caving in on you

_____ _____ _____ Thinking that things are getting out of hand

_____ _____ _____ Thinking that things are swimming by too rapidly to take charge of them

_____ _____ _____ Worrying about every little thing

_____ _____ _____ Thinking the same worrisome thought over and over.

_____ _____ _____ Thinking that the walls are closing in on you

_____ _____ _____ Difficulty maintaining your attention or concentrating.

_____ _____ _____ Having nagging, intrusive thoughts you can't seem to shake off

_____ _____ _____ Thinking you are seriously ill, even though you doctor doesn't find anything wrong with you

_____ _____ _____ Worrying that you are going to be all alone.

How does anxiety affect you? How many of these items did you check that occur sometimes or often? Do you experience more of the bodily symptoms, behaviors, or thoughts commonly associated with anxiety?

If anxiety is a persistent problem for you, and especially if it is interfering with your daily functioning, you may want to seek a professional evaluation to explore whether you are struggling with an anxiety disorder and how best to treat it. You may also benefit from applying the Minute Therapist techniques discussed on this blog, such as behavioral coping skills like deep breathing relaxation and cognitive techniques we’ll talk about in future posts.

© 2016 Jeffrey S. Nevid

More from Psychology Today
4 Min Read
I believe that most current approaches to anxiety fall short because they are predicated on the medical model, which views anxiety as an illness.

More from Jeffrey S. Nevid, Ph.D., ABPP

More from Psychology Today