Anticipatory anxiety

Anticipatory anxiety

Anticipatory anxiety is worrying about the bad things that could happen. The anxiety typically focuses on things you can't control or predict.

While fears are normal, they can become signs of anticipatory anxiety if they start to interfere with your daily life.

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Your physical wellness can impact your emotional health.

  • Nutrition: If your symptoms include a nervous stomach, you may find it hard to eat, and that can make you feel even worse.
  • Sleep: Anxiety can make it difficult to get proper sleep, but a lack of sleep can increase anticipatory anxiety. Cutting back on caffeine and practising relaxation before bed may help you sleep.
  • Physical activity: Exercise can help relieve symptoms of anxiety and improve your sleep.

With anticipatory anxiety, you may spend many hours imagining the worst-case scenario.
Symptoms include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble managing emotions
  • Emotional numbness
  • Loss of interest in your usual hobbies
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea and loss of appetite
  • Sleep problems

Medication may help improve symptoms, especially when combined with therapy.

Medication may be recommended if your symptoms:

  • make it difficult to cope in your daily life
  • prevent you from making progress in therapy
  • cause serious distress
  • affect your physical health

Potential medications include beta-blockers, benzodiazepines (sedatives), selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), and other antidepressants.

If your own coping strategies are not helping, you could explore professional help. A therapist can help to find sources of stress and help to address possible causes. They can also help you identify harmful or less effective coping methods.

Therapists may recommend cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or exposure therapy.

Anticipatory anxiety can appear as a symptom of generalised anxiety disorder.

Other conditions can also involve a fear of possible future events:

  • Social anxiety disorder involves an extreme fear of rejection.
  • A specific phobia can involve extreme fear of ordinary objects or experiences such as clocks, spiders, heights, etc.
  • Panic disorder. Anticipatory anxiety is common in panic attacks.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). A traumatic experience such as a car crash or a mugging can cause anticipatory anxiety.

How you talk to yourself about anxiety will affect you.

When you start to worry about something, ask yourself if it is a realistic possibility.

  • If the answer is no, try to redirect your thinking to the present.
  • If the answer is yes, it is helpful to make a plan to cope, for example, restocking your emergency supplies. Then, set your thoughts aside. You've done what you can.

It's often not easy to talk about what you're afraid of, but voicing those fears can help them seem less scary.

Letting loved ones know about your anxiety can also help, especially if you feel isolated because of your symptoms. Friends can offer support by listening and providing a distraction.

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Learn To Relax

You cannot possibly feel anxious when you are in a state of relaxation. Try: 

  • Progressive muscle relaxation
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • Visualization
  • Deep breathing
Do you shake while angry?

Tremors caused by anxiety aren’t dangerous, but they can be uncomfortable. Sometimes losing control of your body when you’re having anxiety can quickly escalate into other symptoms.

Common symptoms of an anxiety attack include:

  • feeling faint or dizzy
  • shortness of breath
  • dry mouth
  • sweating
  • chills or hot flashes
  • apprehension and worry
  • restlessness
  • distress
  • fear
  • numbness or tingling

We should always be aware of the common symptoms of an anxiety. Let's help each other and have a happy life.

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