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“My Brain Won’t Turn Off!” The Ins and Outs of Anticipatory Anxiety

Have you ever felt that “I just have a gut feeling something bad is about to happen'' in the pit of your stomach? It undoubtedly is a consuming emotion but that isn’t exactly what anticipatory anxiety is. I want to begin this blog by first explaining what anticipatory anxiety is. We will then talk about symptom management and treatment. So to begin, let’s use the example of a fictitious character Ally. Ally just always has the feeling that something bad is right around the corner. She imagines the worst possible outcome of every situation. She is trapped in the constant cycle of “what-if” scenarios. These emotions have left Ally to the point of immense worry, burnout, and exhaustion. This is what anticipatory anxiety looks like in a nutshell.

Based on prior research, anticipatory anxiety is usually related to larger anxiety disorders. These include phobias, General Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, OCD, or Substance Use Disorder. A few common triggers of this disorder include an upcoming exam or presentation, having to perform a new activity, or maybe even a job interview. I discussed a few symptoms of anticipatory anxiety at the beginning of this blog but some others are having a hard time focusing, irritability, dizziness, and nausea.

At this point, you may be wondering how one can manage these symptoms and all the negativity that comes along with this condition. Some activities that are known to help calm those nerves are yoga, mindful meditation, and physical activity. These exercises may truly help in reversing those negative emotions and honing more positive ones. Journaling can also help to keep track of your emotions and triggers. Be sure not to isolate yourself from loved ones. The company of family and friends can help you to better cope with negative emotions and lead you in a more positive direction.

I also want to take a moment to talk about Dr. Sameet M. Kumar’s book The mindful path through worry and rumination. This is a wonderful resource for those who may be dealing with anxiety and depression. In the book, he talks about the Body Scan method, which allows for increased self-awareness of one’s own body. He explains that during this activity, you close your eyes and focus on the listed parts of your body one at a time while taking deep breaths. Through this method, you are better able to observe how each body part feels. Such activities can help to bring about relaxation, peace, and comfort.

Lastly, professional treatment such as therapy/counseling and medication should also be considered for those who feel like their anxiety is disrupting their everyday lives. Two commonly used treatments include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). At 3d Psychotherapy, located in Decatur, GA we are here to serve you and your loved ones so that you can feel and perform your best every single day. Consider us a friend and well-wisher on your journey of healing. May this new year bring about peace, prosperity, and happiness for you and all those whom you love.

About the Author

Shifa Sohani graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelor of Biology in 2021. She currently works as the Client Care Coordinator at 3d Psychotherapy located in Decatur, GA. Some of her roles include administrative processes, tracking client participation and capacity, as well as marketing and networking for the company. She enjoys writing as a hobby and loves working with clients during their mental health journeys.



Office Phone- 404-600-4382

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