• Can you describe what anxiety feels like to you?

    Asked by GregP_WN on Sunday, December 18, 2016

    Can you describe what anxiety feels like to you?

    When you tell someone that you are OK, just have anxiety. Exactly what does that mean?

    19 Answers from the Community

    19 answers
    • Carool's Avatar
      Carool

      Interesting question. It's hard for me to describe how a common emotion feels - almost like trying to describe how something tastes, but even harder. I feel fear, feel jazzed up, insecure, unsure. Unstable. Of course, what do any of those words mean? Describe those feelings. Anxiety is highly unpleasant, and its degree of severity depends on what is causing the anxiety. My anxiety over a school test isn't nearly as high as my anxiety about a possible cancer - not that I'm dealing with either situation right now.

      over 4 years ago
    • Ejourneys' Avatar
      Ejourneys

      What @Carool said.
      For me it depends on context and degree. When I'm anxious to a high degree, my body goes numb and my legs feel rubbery. My left leg -- the one that had a compound fracture when I was a kid -- goes completely numb when my anxiety is especially high (I can count those occurrences on the fingers of one hand). I feel as though my stomach has dropped down a couple of feet. Usually that kind of anxiety lasts for only a few seconds and is rare.

      Then there's the low-grade but persistent anxiety that's also called dread. That interferes with my concentration and leaves me feeling a little sick. Depending on the cause, I can deal with that through journal writing or, if applicable, by taking direct action.

      There's also Red Alert anxiety, which is also rare. That occurs when I perceive an immediate threat to health and safety and must spring into action mode. My entire body is tense and all my senses are acute. I become laser-focused. My anxiety there is especially heightened during the period when I must figure out what action(s) to take and feel helpless until I do. This anxiety is almost exclusively caregiving-related.

      The anxiety that I've felt that's cancer-related tends to be a hybrid of dread and Red Alert. When I experienced the symptoms of my blood clot back in January, it started out as dread that I handled through journal writing and monitoring. Once I spoke with my oncologist's colleague and he told me to go to the ER, I switched to Red Alert anxiety, but it was of a calmer type than the Red Alert anxiety I feel as a caregiver. When I'm just dealing with myself, I feel as though the situation is less out of control.

      My other cancer-related anxiety is a kind of Zen anxiety. I can tell I'm anxious, but I'm also dissociated from it and feel oddly calm. That happened when I had an anaphylactic reaction to IV Feraheme, where my body started to cramp up and I had trouble breathing. The chemo nurses were right there with me, so I knew I was in good hands and just focused on getting through the rough spot. A much milder form of Zen anxiety is my version of scanxiety, because I often don't realize I've been anxious until after I've gotten the all-clear.

      I'm sure I've got more varieties, but that's a sampler. :-)

      over 4 years ago
    • BoiseB's Avatar
      BoiseB

      When I have anxiety I have a rapid heartbeat, shortness of breaths and chest pains and yes I have sometimes misdiagnosed those symptoms and ended up in the hospital with pneumonia.

      over 4 years ago
    • Lynne-I-Am's Avatar
      Lynne-I-Am

      Anxiety makes me tense up and my stomach feels fluttery My heart beat quickens and I know my BP starts elevating. Sometimes my face feels flushed and my hands grow cold. My mouth is dry and I swallow frequently. I become talkative and reassuring to others as a defense mechanism to reassure myself.

      over 4 years ago
    • banditwalker's Avatar
      banditwalker

      I have what I call "panic attacks". I get shaky inside, can't breath, feel claustrophobic, heart feels like it is going to come out of my chest. And, I never had this until after treatment was all over with. So, can someone explain the difference to me? Anxiety & panic attacks could mean the same for some.

      over 4 years ago
    • BoiseB's Avatar
      BoiseB

      You are right Bandit Walker how is a panic attack different from pneumonia, or a heart attack and can we tell the difference. The time I landed in the hospital with pneumonia I thought the chest pains, difficulty breathing and a rapid heartbeat was just anxiety over midterms. What symptoms of anxiety do we need to be concerned about.

      over 4 years ago
    • banditwalker's Avatar
      banditwalker

      BoiseB, I think stress comes first, then that leads to anxiety, then panic attacks. And yes, some symptoms can be related to the same problems. That is why it is always best to have anything checked out. My doc told me I have PTSD. But, he could not tell me the difference between anxiety and panic attacks. It's like some people call being cancer free, remission. Others NED. It is all in the interpretation I guess.

      over 4 years ago
    • Bug's Avatar
      Bug

      To me, anxiety is a feeling of worry, dread, fear, insecurity, not feeling safe. Depending on the situation, I can have a rapid heart beat, feel shaky, have to go to the bathroom more, have sweaty palms, an upset stomach, and sometimes I feel lightheaded. I want to move - don't want to sit still.

      over 4 years ago
    • LaughSmile's Avatar
      LaughSmile

      Feels like I can't catch my breathe. Heart races. Light headed. Bug knows and others here describe the same. Still experimenting with remedies. Good question!

      over 4 years ago
    • Janetspringer's Avatar
      Janetspringer

      To me, anxiety is a feeling of being either"antsy" or frozen. I feel like my mind is going 100 miles a minute without going anywhere. The worst is when anxiety hits at night and I can't sleep because I fixate on whatever it making me anxiety.

      over 4 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar
      GregP_WN

      I have a couple of close people that have issues with anxiety, one of them has gotten better over the years, she used to not be able to travel to other States to visit relatives because of it. She couldn't stand being in a car traveling.

      over 4 years ago
    • BoiseB's Avatar
      BoiseB

      Another symptom of anxiety for me is barfing. I also totally freak out at airports. I sort of have a phobia with those scanning machines, It must be evident because I always get pulled out for more scanning.

      over 4 years ago
    • LiveWithCancer's Avatar
      LiveWithCancer

      Thankfully, I rarely suffer from anxiety. I wasn't really sure how to translate the feeling into words, though. Like some others said, depending on the degree of anxiety, i can get rubber legs, a feeling like I am going to have diarrhea, an upset, queasy stomach, rapid breathing, dry mouth ...

      over 4 years ago
    • BoiseB's Avatar
      BoiseB

      I have probably more than my share of phobias that is what I have anxiety about hard to separate them from real anxiety. I used to have a lot of anxiety about cancer but when I was diagnosed that fear went away. The worst had already happened so I couldn't worry about it. However I do get flashbacks of traumatic events but not cancer related.

      over 4 years ago
    • kdavis11259's Avatar
      kdavis11259

      To me, it has always felt like I am hanging from a tree branch, just waiting for it to break!

      over 4 years ago
    • Littlebit's Avatar
      Littlebit

      Anxiety makes me feel very short tempered. I feel like I am on the edge of yelling at someone. I make short comments to people. I have a feeling of my body jittering inside my skin. I've been on anti-anxiety medications for many years and they work for me very well with a small dose that didn't have to be increased over the years other than one time. I was first diagnosed with malignant melanoma 32 years ago and a couple years after that diagnosis is when I started taking anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medications. I was given a projected two year life expectancy with the malignant melanoma and I became so depressed then that I have been told that it altered my brain chemistry so that I have to take medications now. I do know that recently when I changed oncologists from UAB to Vanderbilt, the new Vanderbilt oncologist does not write prescriptions for Xanax and instead gave me Ativan. At first it was not working well and she told me recently to double the dose since I was on a very low dose. Thankfully it does seem to be doing the job.

      I wish I didn't need to take these medications and over the years since I started taking them, about 30 years ago, I have stopped taking them many times. I would get to feeling like I had control of the situation and didn't need the medications anymore and stop them. I always ended up having to go back to the medications in order to not have panic attacks or be short tempered with people or feel like I was jumping out of my skin. About 10 years ago I resigned myself to the fact that I need the medications and it is best for me to not try to stop taking them. If I needed insulin for diabetes I'd take it and not feel like I should try to do without it. This is no different for me.

      over 4 years ago
    • BarbarainBham's Avatar
      BarbarainBham

      Severe anxiety makes me have the same feelings as above---fast heartbeat, shaky/tremor, and feel shaky inside and all over jittery. Sometimes the fast heartbeat hurts in upper and middle back.

      I've also had blood clots in my lungs (PTE diagnosed with CT), which had similar symptoms, so that's scary.

      about 4 years ago
    • Sasukesuma's Avatar
      Sasukesuma

      For me anxiety sometimes feels just like my afib. Dizzy, shakey, shortness of breath, extremely low blood pressure. It’s scary because sometimes it turns into a bout of afib and I have had to be cardioverted 5 times in the last 4 months. I have had to cut off communication with my oldest son who has bipolar disorder and sometimes gets really nasty and tells me that he can’t wait until I die. We were really close until my diagnosis and I think that he is actually very worried and upset and can’t deal with all of this. He had a really hard time when his dad died of cancer 4 years ago., and acted out then as well. I feel bad about this situation but I can’t deal with it right now and his sisters tells me he is better off this way as well. My oncologist recommended counseling but when it came to be time to go I had a major panic attack. I decided to put off the counseling until my afib is under control. Maybe I just want to be in denial.

      over 2 years ago
    • BarbarainBham's Avatar
      BarbarainBham

      BoiseB, if you are claustrophobic, tell your doctor, and they can send you somewhere else with an "Open MRI" machine, give you an anti-anxiety pill or put you to sleep.

      Counseling can help phobias and anxiety attacks.

      over 2 years ago

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