content top

What Does Anxiety Feel Like?

What Does Anxiety Feel Like?

Anxiety disorders can cause an individual to feel as though his life is in chaos

Anxiety is a completely normal human emotion that everyone experiences throughout their lives. Many people feel anxious, or even nervous at times, when they are facing a problem at work, prior to taking a test, or even when it comes to making important decisions. Anxiety disorders, however, are much different. They can cause such distress that it can interfere with a person’s ability to live and lead a normal life. Anxiety disorders are a serious mental illness and for those suffering from them, they are in constant worry and fear making mistakes, which can cause crippling effects. [1]

Because these effects can be so debilitating to an individual’s life, they often find themselves reaching for forms of coping, such as drug use and abuse. Opioids, also commonly referred to as opiates or narcotics, are a pain relieving medication derived from the poppy plant. Common forms of opiates include morphine and codeine. Those suffering from an anxiety disorder may reach for these narcotics due to their sedating and anxiety-relieving effects. Often times, however, when abused or used incorrectly, those using the prescription medication find themselves addicted to it after an extended amount of time. [2]

Anxiety Symptoms and Treatment Options

Although the exact cause of anxiety disorders is still unknown, what is known is that anxiety disorders, like other forms of mental illness, are not the result of personal weakness, character flaws or even poor upbringing. As research on mental illness continues to progress, it is becoming increasingly clear that many of these disorders are caused by a combination of factors, such as changes in the brain along with environmental stress. Included in the following are recognized types of anxiety disorders:

  • Panic disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Specific phobias
  • Generalized anxiety disorder

Similar to other mental health conditions, anxiety disorders may have been caused by dysfunctional brain circuits, which regulate fear along with other emotions. Numerous studies have shown that severe or long-lasting stress can change the way specific nerve cells within these circuits transmit information from one region of the brain to another. Other studies have shown that those with certain anxiety disorders have changes in their brain structure which are responsible for controlling memories linked with strong emotions. Additionally, studies have shown a genetic link, which means anxiety disorders can be inherited from either one or both parents. Specific environmental factors, such as a trauma, could trigger an anxiety disorder in people who may have inherited or are susceptible to developing the disorder.  Although symptoms vary depending on the type of anxiety disorder those who suffer from an anxiety disorder may suffer from the following general symptoms:

  • Feelings of panic, fear and uneasiness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Inability to be still and calm
  • Muscle tension
  • Numbness or tingling in the hands and/or feet
  • Shortness of breath

Fortunately, tremendous progress has been made within the last two decades in the treatment of those suffering with mental illnesses, including anxiety disorders. Although exact treatment approaches will differ from one another, treatment options may include medication, psychotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, dietary and lifestyle changes, and relaxation therapy. Therapy can be inpatient or outpatient, and is tailored to each individual’s needs and long-term goals. One treatment option may be more beneficial to one individual than another and finding which treatment option an individual would better respond to is vital to helping them with their anxiety disorder. Knowing what may trigger or worsen an individual’s anxiety is a huge step towards the recovery process.

Although anxiety disorders cannot be prevented, there are steps an individual can take to help control or even lessen their symptoms. Stopping or even reducing one’s intake of caffeine and even chocolate can help lessen anxiety symptoms. Ask a doctor or pharmacist prior to taking any over-the-counter medications or herbal remedies because many contain chemicals which can increase anxiety symptoms, and seek counseling and additional support during times when anxiety levels and symptoms progress with no apparent cause.

Drug Addiction Treatment

If you or someone you know and love is struggling with an addiction to opiates and trying to mask the side effects of their anxiety disorder, please call our toll-free helpline today. Our highly-trained and professional counselors are available 24 hours a day to answer your addiction questions and help you find the best treatment available. It only takes one call to save a life, so call us today!


[1], Anxiety Disorders, Joseph Goldberg, MD, 03/03/2016, 02/2014.

[2], Painkillers, Narcotic Abuse, and Addiction, Jennifer Robinson, MD, 03/03/2016, 04/26/2015.