Anxiety Symptoms: Vision

Anxiety can cause distorted vision and tricks of the mind. It doesn’t mean you are going mad or losing the plot. Common visual disturbances are:

  • Thinking you saw something that wasn’t there
  • Things being hyper-real or surreal
  • Colours being very vivid and strong
  • Things appearing as if in a dream
  • Strange swirly patterns and flashing lights

Why do these strange visual symptoms happen? The fight or flight response brings about some very real physical, physiological changes in our bodies. I hearts beat faster, we take in more oxygen and we are on alert.


The amount of blood pumping through our veins increases and this can put a bit of extra pressure on the brain and nervous system. In fact most of the vision problems experienced during anxiety are identical to the kind of vision experienced while doing heavy exercise.

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It is common to mistake visual symptoms of anxiety for a sign or something much more sinister. Often people think they might be having a stroke or that a brain tumour is developing.


Of course strokes and brain tumours are thankfully very rare, you should always discuss new and unusual symptoms with a doctor. You will often feel much better when nasty sounding illnesses have been ruled out. Worrying about your health just makes anxiety worse.

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