What Does Anxiety Feel Like?

What Does Anxiety Feel Like?

When your body feels some threat of danger, failure, or pressure, it probably responds with a feeling of uneasiness, tension, and worry that we call anxiety. For most people, this type of feeling comes with stressful situations that happen from time to time, like meeting a person on whom they would like to make a good impression, taking a tough test, or perhaps being put on the spot in some way in an uncertain situation. It might also come from worries about acquiring the necessities of life or fulfilling responsibilities.

The causes of anxious feelings can vary greatly from person to person, depending on personality, background, and other factors. When anxiety serves its designated purpose, it is beneficial. The feeling of pressure moves a person to take necessary action to relieve the worry, bringing a feeling of peace once the issue is accomplished or resolved.

However, in modern society we are experiencing anxiety in greater levels than ever before. Increasingly, people are feeling undue tension in nearly every aspect of everyday life. Rather than occasionally feeling pressured to perform, you may feel a heavy weight of anxiety that robs you of the ability to take action or to enjoy your life to the fullest.

How You Act When You’re Anxious

If you suffer from anxiety, your emotions are probably taxed. You might feel chronically worried or afraid, even when you recognize that there aren’t a lot of reasons to feel that way. Your sleep could be interrupted; perhaps you toss and turn at night or wake up with disturbing dreams. Others might note that your eyes seem to struggle to stay focused on one object, and rapidly change from one view to another, even in the middle of doing something that requires your visual attention, such as having a conversation or driving.

Anxiety might cause you to feel as if your mind has gone blank. When problems arise, it can be difficult to reason out the best course of action to take, knowing that even if this one issue is fixed, you will not feel better and will just face another. You might feel so overwhelmed as to be unable to identify any logical solution at all. Perhaps in fear of confronting challenging situations, you shy away from adventurous activity.

Concentration is also difficult when you are anxious. You are aware that if you organize your activities well and advance from one to the next in a succession of completed tasks, you can get more done, but you tend to accidentally leave projects half-finished or barely even started. Maybe you lose things that you need to get on with your day, like your keys.

Physical Symptoms and Anxiety Disorder Diagnosis

Anxiety can also bring on a lot of physical symptoms, such as these:

  • Sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Tense muscles
  • Frequent urination
  • Shivering or twitching

Currently, there are five disorders that can be distinctly diagnosed as anxiety related. Post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder each receive a unique diagnosis for their related yet distinct symptoms.1

Anxiety and depression are closely related to each other. A person who suffers from anxiety is likely to suffer from depression, and a person who suffers from depression will pass through bouts of anxiety. Often, treatment for both conditions is necessary.2

To determine if you are experiencing an anxiety disorder or regular anxiety, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do my anxious feelings interfere with my daily life?
  • Is my anxiety constant and severe?
  • Can I see where my anxiety is coming from? 3

Examples of this would be if anxiety causes you to miss family gatherings, stay home from work, or avoid social activities. You might also note that you make decisions more based on anxious thoughts and worry than you do based on what you actually prefer.

Help for Anxious Feelings

Excessive anxiety is not always related to a chemical imbalance or mental disorder. Factors that commonly cause chronic anxiety can be illustrated by the following examples:

  • Consuming too much caffeine
  • Not getting sufficient amounts of exercise
  • Irregular sleeping patterns
  • Keeping an overly demanding schedule

The more stress in your life, the more likely that you will feel anxious. So, examine your stress-management skills. Even of you do not have extremely pressing circumstances, if you are not getting good exercise, rest and nutrition, you will be more susceptible to those anxious feelings that result in poor mental health symptoms.

To mentally manage your anxiety, try to write down what makes you feel down or overwhelmed. Then, talk to someone with more experience about your worries. Designate a specific time that you will worry about each thing. Finally, accept that life is simply not worry-free. Get enough rest and exercise, and eat a healthy diet to the best extent possible. Drink less alcohol or caffeine, and don’t smoke.

That said, if your anxiety is severe, you might need professional treatment for anxiety management. You might benefit greatly from talk therapy or medications that can help you to cope. Many deal with anxiety by taking benzodiazepine medications such as Klonopin, but the effects of long-term use of such drugs generally bring negative effects and result in increased anxiety, health risks, or even addiction.4

Anxiety is treatable. There is no need to let it interfere with your ability to cope with challenges effectively and lead a happy life! If you or a loved one is struggling with anxiety, please, pick up the phone at any time day or night and call our toll-free helpline at no cost to you. Admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to take your call.


1 UC Davis Health System, Author Richard Maddock M.D. “Checkup on Health: When is Anxiety a Clinical Condition?” : http://ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/welcome/features/20081105_anxiety/index.html.

2 National Institute of Mental Health. “Depression.” https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml.

3Mayo Clinic, “Anxiety.” http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/anxiety/home/ovc-20168121.

4 Food and Drug Administration. “Klonopin. Safety Labeling Changes Approved By FDA Center for Drug Evaluation and Research.” April 2009.  http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch/SafetyInformation/Safety-RelatedDrugLabelingChanges/ucm154476.htm.