Anticipated anxiety: causes, symptoms and treatment

In situations of danger or stress, we must be confident that our body will respond to the challenge. Imagine, for example, the situation of running away from a beast: if a tiger is chasing you, it is better to have the full cooperation of your body to have the senses, muscles and reflexes more active and efficient than ever.

The same can be said when suddenly dodging a car or avoiding any unexpected danger of modern life. Fortunately, our bodies have tools to “ activate the alarm ”, and in fact another virtue is the ability of our mind to anticipate events, especially if they involve danger. It’s a skill that allows us to plan, organize, and ultimately prepare for what (maybe) happens. This is true both for immediate physiological responses and for long-term planning.

Both of these abilities are essential for survival, even in our seemingly calm and orderly society. However, there is a type of psychological disorder in which these tools become a problem: anxiety known as anticipation or anticipation.

    What is anticipatory anxiety?

    Have you ever felt a great panic before speaking in public? So what you’ve been through is an example of anticipatory anxiety, with a picture of great nervousness and panic. We’re talking about the feeling you get a few minutes before you have to speak in public, when we even think the worst can happen. This type of anxiety manifests itself in the patient pathological panic attacks at the prospect of future events.

    These events, which did not occur and for which there are no reasonable grounds to infer that they will occur, are catastrophic and very negative in nature.

    How does this stress disorder appear?

    Life is uncertain, but there are certain statistical ranges that minimize the chances of the most terrible things happening. The fear of leaving the house so that lightning can strike you is something that ignores the likelihood of this really happening. Normally, life does not pass with jumps in which you go from bad to much worse.

    Anticipated anxiety disorder is linked to the difficulty of coming to terms with this idea. Those affected are sure to suffer intolerance of uncertainty and the need to control everything around them. This is why it often occurs in people who have a high demand on their own performance.

    Extreme unfounded fear can arise without prior motivation, but it is very common for these people to have anticipatory anxiety attacks. following a previous trauma. If you have suffered a specific anxiety attack, you may be afraid of any situation in which you think you are exposed to conditions such as those on this occasion.

    you too this can happen if you have a phobia. For example, if you have a snake phobia, you may experience anticipatory anxiety about visiting a zoo. Imagine seeing snakes, feeling an image of anxiety, and your body reacting to symptoms of terror. Your dire outlook won’t change although there is no certainty of seeing a snake.

      Symptoms of anticipatory anxiety

      Extreme stress takes its toll on the body. Bringing the body to the limit, with the corresponding hormonal torrent, is necessary in the face of situations of real danger. However, continued exposure to these physiological conditions ends up being detrimental to our body and psyche.

      In anticipation, fear arises when faced with a non-existent threat which is seen with the worst expectations. Catastrophic thoughts appear (“I will not be able to do things right”, “there is no solution”, “I will be ridiculed”, “everything will be bad”, “the worst will happen”, etc.) which begin a torrent of panic signals. Your body reacts with physical symptoms such as the following:

      • Tachycardia and palpitations.
      • Dizziness, nausea, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea …
      • Tremors and instability.
      • Sweat.
      • Muscle tension.
      • Stuttering and inability to concentrate.
      • Headache.

      These and other physical symptoms they can present with enough intensity to be disabling and can even be mistaken for symptoms of a heart attack. Later, after overcoming the anxiety attack, you may develop a fear of fear. In other words, you may experience anticipatory anxiety at the prospect of a recurring anxiety attack. It’s a snowball.


      Anticipation anxiety can be really traumatic and requires professional treatment.

      From the point of view of psychology, cognitive behavioral therapy and relaxation techniques guided by psychologists have been shown to be effective for bring patients from this terrible future to a controlled present. Having an online psychologist provides facilities that bring therapy closer to where you live: you can enjoy online therapy with complete peace of mind in a comfortable and safe environment.

      The goal is for this safe environment to develop, so that you can increase your self-confidence until you can face situations that cause you anticipatory anxiety. It’s a journey through time, but with the spirit: we come back from this future to stay in the present.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Kendler, Kenneth S. (2004). “Major Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder.” TO CONCENTRATE.
      • Rynn MA, Brawman-Mintzer O. (2004). “Generalized anxiety disorder: acute and chronic treatment”. CNS spectra. 9(10): 716-23.
      • Seligman ME, Walker EF, Rosenhan DL. Abnormal Psychology (2002). New York: WW Norton & Company.

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