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What Does Anxiety Feel Like?

What Does Anxiety Feel Like?

Anxiety is a legitimate and diagnosable health condition that is difficult to live with and often even debilitating

Clinical anxiety is an often misunderstood health condition in Des Moines, either because it is viewed as proof of immaturity or even character flaws or because its symptoms are dismissed as normal worries. However, both thoughts are false. Clinical anxiety has nothing to do with either maturity or a lack of character. Instead, it is a legitimate and diagnosable health condition that is difficult to live with and often even debilitating.

Similarly, there is a powerful distinction between the normal worries or stressors of daily life and clinical anxiety. It is common to feel butterflies in your stomach before a job interview, while you are presenting in public or even in the midst of a sporting event. It is also typical to have short seasons where worry seems to take center stage, particularly when a major and unexpected life event has just occurred such as a job loss, divorce or death of a loved one.

An Up Close and Personal Look at What Anxiety Actually Feels Like

This article will walk you through several vignettes where you experience anxiety viscerally through individuals who are living with common symptoms of clinical anxiety. It is however important to note that there are over 100 symptoms and signs for anxiety, so even these stories will not give an exhaustive understanding of what it’s like to live with clinical anxiety.

Frank awakens in the middle of the night feeling sick to his stomach. He has to go to work tomorrow, and there is a meeting he has to attend as well. He knows that he won’t even need to say anything, but what if someone asks him a question, and what if he doesn’t know the answer? His colleagues could laugh at him during the meeting, or even worse snicker behind his back and around the corner when he’s not there. He tries to get out of bed to grab a drink of water but is hit by a wave of dizziness and a blinding headache as he sits up. “Not again,” he thinks to himself. As the anxiety starts to heighten, he feels tightness in his chest. Frank used to think these were heart attacks, but nine doctors later he knows they are panic attacks. Weary due to lack of sleep and downtrodden by his inability to function normally, Frank turns on his side and tries to go back to sleep.

Sylvia walks into her favorite coffee shop and is ready to order her iced skinny vanilla latte with an extra shot of espresso, when she notices them. A whole group of college-age kids staring at her and laughing. Maybe they weren’t staring after all, she thinks to herself as she tries to watch them out of the corner of her eye. Nope, the blonde in the sweatshirt is definitely laughing at her. Sylvia pulls out her compact and glances at her face, making sure there is nothing that doesn’t belong there. “Good, no grape jelly from breakfast.” Then why are they staring and laughing? She turns toward them and is ready to address their rude behavior when she sees it—a mobile phone with a video playing, something with a cat. This is why they were really laughing. Nobody even noticed her. With a small sigh, she returns to the end of the line for her latte. “I am tired of these moments where my paranoia get the best of me,” Sylvia thinks as she checks the time on her wristwatch.

Saul is proud of himself. He is giving a presentation to his economics class and not even stressing out. All is going well until it hits. For no reason at all, he feels his face turn red hot. He stutters as he realizes what is happening, again, and loses his train of thought. Starting to sweat, he looks to the slide deck on his laptop, but his vision goes blurry and he cannot see the words on the screen. “Not again,” he thinks to himself. At least this time he was up in front and talking; usually, it is for no reason at all.

If This Sounds Familiar, It Is Time to Get Some Help

There are at least three possible reactions you might have had as you read the detailed description of what it is like to live with clinical anxiety. It could have been a good source of information for you and allowed you to understand the daily experiences of a friend or loved one that is battling clinical anxiety. You also might have found yourself thinking of someone close to you and realizing that this is how they are experiencing life, but they don’t have any treatment to assist them with this. Lastly, you might have seen yourself in these descriptions. If so, you were likely thinking, “Thank goodness I am not the only one.”

If you identified with the third option as you were reading, there is really only one step for you now. If this is where you are right now, the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. We can help you in Des Moines. We can answer your questions. The admissions counselors at our toll-free, 24 hour helpline can help you learn more about building healthy relationships. They can help you find your way.


[1], “Anxiety Disorders,” accessed March 1, 2016