People with anxiety disorders often experience almost constant muscle tension. This can include twisting of the hands, clenched fists, a tight jaw, stiff neck, or back pain.
In the Primary Stress Reaction, your body prepares to ward off danger by fleeing or physically fighting, resulting in tense muscles ready for action. Relaxation techniques coupled with regular physical activity can be effective in combating the tension associated with anxiety.
Some anxious people will experience flashbacks of a past event that caused them severe anxiety. With extreme trauma, another condition called post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop.
PTSD shares similarities with anxiety disorder; however, it is not the same condition. Researchers published in 2006 a study in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders who found PTSD-like flashbacks in people with social anxiety disorder.
Social anxiety and agoraphobia
Some people experience anxiety in social settings, such as office parties, or when large crowds gather, such as amusement parks, malls, or grocery stores. These can be particularly debilitating forms of anxiety, as they can negatively impact important areas of a person’s life.
When these people find themselves immersed in social or crowded environments, their stress response becomes so intense that they can stop emotionally and even experience panic attacks. Therapy may include anxiolytics, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), or desensitization therapy, in which the person is gradually introduced into larger crowds or social environments for increasingly longer periods of time.