Mental Health

What Having Anxiety Feels and Looks Like? 8 Illustrations

anxiety feels and looks like Posted On
Posted By Alex Perez - Mental Health Writer, B.A.

Living with Anxiety resembles being pursued by a voice. This voice is aware of all your weaknesses, fears, and insecurities and uses them against you. It always arrives at the worst moment, and the more you battle against it, the stronger it gets until the only thing you notice is the anxiety itself. This invisible enemy is like a parasite or a little demon that nourishes out of your fears and gradually grows with your attention and despair. Only by ignoring it you will have a chance to make it disappear.

There is no simple and easy way to explain what anxiety feels and looks like. Some people say that it resembles breathing failure, whereas others say it’s the powerless observation of yourself. Simultaneously, you undergo severe mental and physical torture coming out of nowhere and for no rational reason.

Most people believe that anxiety is a state of being sad, hopeless, and stressed out about something going on in your life like relationship problems, a financial issue, or stressful life events. In any case, it isn’t that simple.

It is very hard for individuals experiencing anxiety disorder to explain to others what anxiety feels like and what’s going on in their life.

 Severe anxiety[i] is confusing and disturbing, overwhelming and tricky, physically and mentally, and on occasion, so surprisingly crippling you can’t talk or think straight or even move. It suddenly goes from mild to severe, just in seconds. Anxiety makes you feel like you will faint or like you will die of this condition. Anxiety disorders are the real monsters; monsters you can’t see or hear, but you can feel them wandering in your brain.

If you wonder how the anxiety monster looks like and how it feels like when you encounter it, this article will help you understand how it is to live with this horrible monster in your mind.

Anxiety Feels and Looks Like:

Like being stuck underwater while running low on oxygen

Anxiety Feels and Looks Like Being Stuck Underwater

You’re diving on a beautiful sunny afternoon when suddenly you get stuck, and the more you fight to get yourself free and flee away, the worse the situation gets. You start to panic, use all your energy, and your heartbeat accelerates, breathing becomes difficult until you faint.

A few moments later, you wake up in the rescue boat and think that at least you don’t die from an anxiety attack.

Like being hit with a hammer

Anxiety Feels and Looks Like Being Hit By a Hammer

The anxiety monster will hit your mind like Thor’s hammer striking your brain with such a force that it will smash your thoughts into a fog. That fog clouds your eyes, leaving an emptiness both in your eyes and brain.

This emptiness will make you feel numb and useless. Thoughts become so unclear that you begin to avoid public places and social events. The anxiety monster doesn’t like anyone to be around you. When it takes over, it leaves you frustrated and lonely.

Like melting in an oven

Anxiety Feels and Looks Like Melting In An Oven

You’re stuck in this situation where you can’t escape from, start sweating, have the chills, have numb hands, feel nauseous, blush, and breathing becomes increasingly tricky.  You wonder how you got yourself in this situation. Only one thing is clear to you once you’re in the oven, it is too late.

Now you will have to learn how not to get thrown into the oven anymore.

Like becoming a marble statue

Anxiety Feels and Looks Like Becoming A Marble Statue

Suddenly you tense up. You’re worried about it, but there is nothing you can do. Now you stand there like a museum piece, and you don’t want this to happen ever again.

So next time, you will avoid this situation and all the situations that resemble this situation until one day you’ve become nothing more than a marble statue standing in your house.

Like a tornado coming your way

Anxiety Feels and Looks Like A Tornado Coming Your Way

“Anxiety is a thin stream of fear trickling through the mind. It cuts a channel into which all other thoughts are drained”.

_Arthur Roche, archbishop and theologist

One horrible side of the anxiety monster looks like a tornado of negativity or a horrendous stream of darkness coming to take you over. Your mind gets caught in this self-judgment cloud. You endeavor to break out of it yet all in vain. The anxiety monster persuades you to avoid your daily life activities by making you believe that something terrible will happen if you go on this way, making you feel bad and sorry for yourself. This self-judgment and fear of being judged by others soon will interfere with your everyday life, and you will start avoiding things because of this fear.

Once the tornado passes, he will leave nothing behind, and everything will have to be build up again.

Like being someone’s puppet

Anxiety Feels and Looks Like Being Someone's Puppet

As the anxiety monster becomes more powerful, you will become his puppet. He starts pulling strings, draining your energy, and hijacking your usual self. You sit there silently and ask yourself, “what have I become?” “This is not me who is behaving this way” “When did I lose control?”

You are not acting like you used to anymore. You want to escape this horrible situation, but you cannot even fight the puppetmaster off and get yourself free from this silent trap.

Like being chased by a serial killer

Anxiety Feels and Looks Like Being Chased by a Serial Killer

Your run into the night, but you know that there is nowhere to hide. He is smarter and stronger than you. Then comes the moment where he grabs you with his cold hands and stabs you right into your chest. This pain is what anxiety feels like. Imagine a dagger running sharply through your chest, giving you physical symptoms of severe acute and stabbing chest pain[ii].

It’s a cold hand that strangles you in the middle of the night[iii]. You feel palpitations in your chest, and suddenly it becomes more difficult to breathe. This agony may last from a few minutes to half an hour. Once he is done with you, he will continue wandering in your mind for several days, weeks, months… You might experience other physical symptoms while the serial killer is around included pain in your neck and shoulders, muscle tension, sweaty palms, and even fainting. Once he’s gone, he will leave you worried, exhausted, restless, fearful, and insomniac.

Like being in an earthquake

Anxiety Feels and Looks Like Being In an Earthquake

Like the earth is shaking you in all directions, you have no control over it. Suddenly the ground opens up, and everything vanishes beneath your feet. You fall into a suckhole. There is nothing left.

This is how devastating suffering from severe anxiety can be.

Mental Health Awareness

No word can explain the severe physical pain and mental stress associated with anxiety. I hope this article about the anxiety monster and its horrible looks and feels will give you some empathy for those fighting this terrible monster daily.

I’m sure there are plenty of other ways to describe anxiety. Tell us, how would you personify anxiety?

Infographic: What having anxiety feels and looks like
Infographic: What having anxiety feels and looks like
Selection of what having anxiety feels and looks like
Infographic: Selection of What Having Anxiety Feels and Looks like



[iii] What does anxiety feel like and how can you manage anxiety? What having anxiety feels like 36 People Show Us What Their Anxiety Looks Like

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