Anxiety is an illness that often feels hollow. It's hard to explain to people who've never had it. Worrying is a normal part of life. Everyone worries about something.
Anxiety, however, can be crippling. The difference between worrying and anxiety is quite simple: worry causes mental stress while anxiety causes physical stress. Anxiety can be so terrible that it becomes debilitating to the individual.
As anyone who has ever had anxiety knows, it’s hard to explain to someone who has never been there.
Here are 10 ways to describe what anxiety feels like:
1) It’s like having a little devil on your shoulder telling you everything will go wrong
Anxiety is a tricky opponent. Unlike depression, which can force you to retreat into your own world, anxiety has a way of making you feel like it's everywhere — even in the people around you who don't have anxiety.
It can be frustratingly hard to describe this feeling to someone who's never experienced it. But many people have said it feels like having a little devil whispering in your ear. This metaphor, while not scientifically accurate, actually describes the way anxiety makes anxious people feel pretty well.
Anxiety is like having a little devil on your shoulder, one that whispers all sorts of nasty things and convinces you they're true. Sometimes, that voice is loud and obvious: “You're not good enough.” “You're going to die.” “You're going to mess up.” Other times, it's subtle. You might be able to identify the source of your negative thoughts and emotions, but by then, the damage is already done.
2) It’s being scared of being scared, but not knowing what you’re scared of
Anxiety is often described by sufferers as “being scared of being scared”, but not knowing what they're scared of.
Anxiety is actually a normal reaction to stress. In fact, most people feel anxious at some point during their lives, and it's usually short-lived and passes once the stressful situation has passed, or the person has adapted to the stressor.
However, people with anxiety disorders often feel anxious most of the time and for no apparent reason.
You might also experience physical symptoms alongside your anxious thoughts, such as a faster heartbeat and palpitations, sweating, dizziness, dry mouth, trembling and muscle tension. These can be distressing in themselves and make you feel more fearful about how unwell you really are.
3) It’s feeling like something bad is going to happen but not knowing what or why
We all worry or are anxious now and then. Worry can help us anticipate problems and prepare to deal with them. For example, if you're worried that you won't have enough money for retirement, you might plan to save more or look for expert advice on financial planning.
But if your worries are out of proportion to the situation, last for a long time, or interfere with your daily life, you may have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). GAD is a common anxiety disorder that involves constant and chronic worrying, nervousness, and tension.
Everyone worries from time to time — when speaking in public, for instance, or when dealing with a difficult problem at work. But people with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) are extremely anxious most of the time. That's because their worry isn't focused on any one thing in particular; rather, it's a general feeling of dread that something bad is going to happen.
People with GAD feel anxious most days and often struggle to remember the last time they felt relaxed. As soon as one anxious thought is resolved, another may appear about a different issue.
4) It’s the feeling of being stuck in a situation where you have no control over the outcome
Most of us feel anxious from time to time. But for some people, the feelings of anxiety are so intense that they begin to interfere with their daily life.
Anxiety is a normal reaction to stress and can actually be beneficial in some situations. For some people, however, anxiety becomes excessive and can cause them to dread everyday situations.
Feeling like your life is out of control is incredibly stressful, especially if you have already been through distressing events. It’s only natural to feel scared or worried when we’re under pressure not knowing what will happen next and feeling unable to do anything about it..
That feeling of powerlessness leads to anxiety, which in turn makes us feel like we have lost control even more. Then we get even more anxious and it becomes a vicious circle.
5) It’s feeling trapped in your own body
The reason why anxiety feels like you're trapped is because anxiety itself is a trap. Anxiety causes you to worry and obsess over things that don't even matter and it's caused by your own mind. There are other factors, such as genetics and trauma, but overall, the main source of your anxiety is coming from your own mind.
Anxiety makes everything feel worse than it actually is. You start to imagine things that haven't happened, you worry about things that aren't a problem, you obsess over situations, and it all starts to pile up on your shoulders until you finally collapse under the pressure.
The more you try to get out of the trap, the tighter the trap becomes around you. It's the same way with anxiety. The more you try to escape from your anxious thoughts and feelings, the more they seem to come back at you. I'm not saying to ignore them completely because this will only cause them to come back even stronger in time.
6) It’s like being in an empty room with no lights on
People who suffer from anxiety are more inclined to have a greater sense of darkness in their lives, according to a new study.
People experiencing anxiety often report that they feel like “something is missing” or like they are living in a dark cave with no light. The study found that there is a neurological explanation for this feeling. People who experience anxiety have a more active amygdala, which is the part of the brain that processes fear and other strong emotions.
You can't see anything, but you know it's there, and it's just waiting for you to make a move so it can come and get you.
It's that feeling that something bad is going to happen – whether it be physical or emotional. It's the fear of being judged by others. It is the fear of being hurt physically or emotionally all at once.
It is the fear of failing, because what if that happens? Will you ever get back up again? Or will you give up, giving into your fears forever?
Anxiety makes us feel like every decision we make will result in something bad happening. It makes us afraid of even trying new things because maybe we'll mess up or do something wrong – and then what? What will people think?
7) It can make you feel hopeless
The link between anxiety and hopelessness is straightforward. The more anxious you are, the more likely you are to feel hopeless. Anxiety is a mental health condition that involves excessive worry and fear of future events. The anxiety caused by this excessive worry can lead a person to feel hopeless because they are focused on the possibility of a negative event occurring, rather than focusing on coping strategies or solutions to problems.
Anxiety can be linked to hopelessness in different ways. For example, a person may have ongoing worries about certain events that are causing them to feel anxious and hopeless. In other cases, a person may simply have an anxious personality type that makes them prone to feelings of anxiety, which then leads to feelings of hopelessness.
Anxiety has been linked with negative thoughts about the future and the past, as well as low self-esteem and depression. It's important to understand how anxiety causes a person to feel hopeless so they can seek treatment for both conditions.
8) Feeling like you are going crazy
Anxiety can make you feel like you're going crazy. And when it's at its worst, it's not entirely wrong to feel that way. Anxiety is an extremely powerful feeling. It makes you feel like there is something very wrong. It seems to be telling you that if you don't do something right now, something bad will happen.
And if you don't do anything about it? Your mind starts to wander down the path of “what ifs.”
What if I lose my job? What if my partner leaves me? What if I get sick?
The feeling of anxiety isn't just unpleasant. It can also stop you from enjoying life. When anxiety is extreme, it stops you from doing the things that normally bring joy and happiness into your life – like spending time with family and friends or learning a new skill. It can even stop you from getting out of bed in the morning and enjoying a simple breakfast with your family. The feeling of anxiety has many names – doubt, fear, worry, dread, panic and so on. But whatever name we give it, there's no denying that it is an uncomfortable feeling.
9) Not being able to turn your mind off
Anxiety is a normal, healthy survival response that all humans have. When people talk about anxiety conditions, they mean that those conditions tend to be on the extreme side of anxiety.
In short, anxiety causes you to feel like you cannot turn your mind off. And for many people, when their mind is racing, it can be hard to think clearly and find solutions to problems. Instead, you may feel stuck in a cycle of negative thoughts and self-doubt.
This difficulty with thinking can make it hard to function normally in your day-to-day life. You might find it hard to concentrate at work or school because of the constant worry that is present in your mind. It might be difficult to perform well on tasks or complete assignments if your mind is consumed by anxious thoughts.
10 ) Having a hard time focusing
You can be anxious about a certain situation, or you can have an anxiety disorder. Regardless of which you're dealing with, anxiety can cause you to have difficulty focusing.
Things that can cause you to focus less on the task at hand are being worried about something in the future, ruminating about something in the past and having distracting thoughts that take your attention away from what you're supposed to be doing.
Here's why this happens:
Anxiety is created by your brain's overactive fight or flight response. It senses danger, even when there is none. When you're anxious, you may feel tense and not know what to do with yourself. You may experience nervousness or worry about things that could go wrong. This causes your brain to become preoccupied with the problem and forget about other things around it.
When you're anxious, your mind has a hard time paying attention because it's focused on potential threats instead of the present moment.
It is said that one cannot truly understand another person, much less themselves, until they have walked a mile in their shoes. The same can be said for those living with anxiety. We can see it in others and wonder what is going on inside their heads, but until we walk a mile in those shoes (literally or figuratively), we will never truly know how it feels to be suffocating from inside—from your own thoughts and fears.