5 Initial Symptoms of Anxiety that go Unnoticed

5 Initial Symptoms of Anxiety that go Unnoticed
Gema Sánchez Cuevas

Written and verified by the psychologist Gema Sánchez Cuevas.

Last update: 25 September, 2023

Many times the initial symptoms of anxiety go unnoticed because they are subtle, and the symptoms may seem like they have nothing to do with anxiety. Neuroscientists have detected that these signal appear early and serve as a warning to what’s going on in our brains. 

Once anxiety has settled in, the predominant feelings are uncertainty, fear, and a type of deep inner abyss. With anxiety comes physical, psychological, cognitive, and emotional symptoms. Hence, anxiety is a complex condition, from which it’s hard to escape.

With all of these problems, the sooner anxiety is detected, the sooner it will be possible to intervene and you will have a greater chance of overcoming it. Therefore, it is important to be alert to the initial symptoms of anxiety. These are five of them:

Cold feet, one of the first symptoms of anxiety

Your feet’s temperature can be an indicator of our emotional state. One of the initial symptoms of anxiety may be having cold feet, recurrently and without a physiological reasons that explains why. Why is cold feet considered a symptom of anxiety? How are cold feet correlated to an anxious state?

This phenomenon happens when a human being feels threatened. The organs near your torso receive increased blood flow. Basically, towards the heart and digestive system.

This is the body’s way of reacting to danger. When this happens, the extremities, especially the feet, receive less blood flow. Therefore, the temperature drops.

girl with socks

Continuous yawning

Another early symptom of anxiety is yawning more often than usual. A study from Bournemouth University in England that confirms this. According to the research, people in states of anxiety, fear, or panic tent to yawn more frequently.

The study revealed that there is a direct relationship between the number of yawns and the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. The more yawns, the more cortisol.

This is because cortisol increases body temperature. The yawn, on the other hand, works to lower the temperature.

Mental fog

Mental fog is a condition that makes concentration difficult. We experience it as a type of unreality. Those who suffer from mental fog have difficulty connecting with the present moment and easily putting thoughts together.

Mental fog is also called “fibromyelin” and may be one of the initial symptoms of anxiety. When you have mental fog, there are so many ideas in your mind that a type of veil clouds your thinking. That is why it’s so difficult to focus attention.

Recurring nightmares

We have all had a nightmare. This phenomenon, associated with sleep, can be related to situations that we have lived and that have deeply impressed us.

Maybe we’re not done digesting these working through these situations and they return to us in our sleep. However, when this becomes recurrent, it may be a manifestation of latent anxiety.

Dreams, and especially nightmares, can be a manifestation of our subconscious. Maybe we don’t openly think about these situations during the day, but they are subconsciously taking over our life. Thus, nightmares can be an unequivocal sign of incipient anxiety.

Metallic taste in the mouth

The University of Bristol (United Kingdom) conducted a study on anxiety. Researchers discovered that anxious people tend to have a sharper perception of salty and bitter flavors.

Likewise, it has been established that one of the initial symptoms of anxiety is an annoying metallic taste in the mouth. 

This occurs because anxiety is a potential strong emotion that in some people stimulates the proliferation of oral bacteria. This, in turn, leads to bleeding gums.

However, this can be very slight and that is why it is often not visible to the naked eye. What it does feel like is the metallic taste of blood in the mouth.

Anxiety, like other psychological conditions, translates into behaviors that create patterns. Without realizing it, we learn these patterns and begin to repeat them.

In other words, we learn those anxious behaviors and  adopt them. When that happens, leaving the circle of anxiety becomes challenging and complicated.

That is why it is very important to maintain an attitude of self-observation. Detect changes, new symptoms, discomfort, no matter how small. If we can identify the anxiety it its initial phases, we will be in a better position to face it.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.