Anxiety Can Make You Say Mean Things

May 3, 2016 Julia Banim

Anxiety can make you say mean things. This isn't an excuse, it's that fear and frustration overtake us. Then something mean comes out of anxiety. Read this.

Anxiety can make us say mean things, regrettably, no matter how nice we are. I would say that I am a nice person. Indeed, I would go as far to say that my “niceness” is often viewed as a defining characteristic to my closest friends. As far as I know myself, this isn’t just appearances. I do care deeply about people and feel a great sadness when learning about other people’s unhappiness and disappointments. I cannot bear to hear stories of loneliness and abandonment. I do not think that I have ever intended to hurt anybody or that I have ever taken pleasure in another person’s unhappiness. But I have said mean things when anxiety got the better of me.

Saying Mean Things Due to Anxiety Leads to Regret

At the time of writing, I have, touch wood, a tight reign on my mental health. I am on a medication dosage that suits me, have received counselling and cognitive behaviour therapy and have an all around good grasp on my physical and mental wellbeing. However, there has been times in my life when I have had much less control and have said things, nasty things, during times of intense anxiety and depression, that I deeply regret. I have used words that I would otherwise abhore and be greatly offended by. I have made comments about other people’s intelligence and appearance that horrify me upon reflection. I have overreacted to situations and have ended up insulting people beyond what was necessary with my words and actions.

For a long time, I wondered if these outbursts have revealed a crueller side of my personality, a side that I can usually suppress when in better health. I have felt a profound sense of guilt due to this, and a great feeling of despair that I may well never find closure or a release for this guilt. Although it is, of course, important to acknowledge when we have wronged others, it is also important to make peace with ourselves and to move on. I have found that the best way to prevent these outbursts is to figure out where they are coming from and what triggers them.

Anxiety Makes You Say Mean Things Out of Fear and Frustration

Anxiety can make you say mean things. This isn't an excuse, it's that fear and frustration overtake us. Then something mean comes out of anxiety. Read this.

Anxiety and depression can bring about strong feelings of fear, frustration and anguish and this can lead to misunderstandings. I have gone through phases of being extremely agoraphobic, to the point where even dashing to the corner shop felt like a terrible ordeal. This has been incredibly constricting and, at times, has narrowed my life and my thoughts considerably. I have had to deal with people treating me “differently” to how they might treat a person in good mental health. This has led to me feeling hopelessly cut adrift from other people.

It isn’t always just the out and out nastiness that can hurt. Sometimes people will treat you very gently as if they are worried you might explode at any given moment. Other people will not know how to react around you. They will shift uncomfortably in their seats and shoot each other awkward, embarrassed looks. They might even actively avoid participating in conversation with you. This is to be expected in a society where mental health still isn’t spoken about enough (What Is Stigma?). For the most part, I do not judge people who do not know how to treat people with mental health problems. However, this logic has completely evaded me at times, causing me to lash out.

During my more anxious times, a misplaced word or look can feel loaded with intent and can send me into a panicked cycle of fear and paranoia. Of course, this is not an excuse but I feel that it is important that these crashing cycles of anxiety are understood. I have written before about how anxiety can make you very inward-looking to the point of appearing self-absorbed. Sometimes, anxiety can even blind you to the impact that your own negative behaviour can have on others.

Anxiety Can Make You Speak Before You Think Video

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APA Reference
Banim, J. (2016, May 3). Anxiety Can Make You Say Mean Things, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 22 from

Author: Julia Banim

Advice in dealing with anxiety
June, 4 2019 at 4:02 am
Hi Everyone,

Just wondering if anyone can give me some advice as to what I can do. I am currently in a relationship with a guy that has really bad anxiety and just like in the article he is becoming mean to me when I speak to him. He blames me for the causing his anxiety and continuously says I’m selfish whenever he has his episodes and that I want to see him suffer which is why I am creating his anxiety. I feel like I am partly to blame because I sometimes when we talk I trigger his anxiety out of nowhere (which I think why he blames me for it). The latest episode was caused by a conversation about me complaining about something my cousin did. But nothing was ever about him. I have been since checking up on him daily to see if he is alright but he just keeps saying he is angry at me and this is all my fault.

It escalated further today because he said some hurtful things when i told him I wanted us to be okay soon and I answered back telling him that it isn’t right for him to say those because he makes me feel worthless and I didnt want to fight with him. I stopped replying to his last message in fear our fight would escalate further if I say something wrong.

I am currently at a loss as to what I can do to help him. Or if there is anything I am doing wrong. I have tried counselling before since I want to understand his situation better and I was also affected greatly but it didn’t help since the counsellor just told me basically to be more religious. Mental health is not really discussed so much in the country I live in so I do not know who to approach. I want to give this relationship a chance and I want to do it properly but I do not have the tools or resources to research properly and be there for him in the right way. I have read numerous articles online already but it still isnt enough.

Hoping for someone’s advice.
May, 20 2019 at 4:27 am
Today I was in a sushi restaurant looking at a menu with my daughter. A friendly lady asked me ' Do you like spicey ?'. She and her husband then recommended a sushi roll they loved. I responded saying oh cool thanks I'll try that. I attempted more friendly dialogue feeling my usual social nervousness as usual. I noticed their faces changing from happy to offended and awkward. It really troubled me as they really looked weirded out at me, and I honestly thought 100% I was trying hard to be nice ! Later I asked my daughter... was I acting weird ? Was I doing something I'm not aware of ? Because they really seemed badly affected by me. Time and time again over the years I keep noticing people react this way to me mid conversation. My daughter said to me Dad.... your face was fine, your tone was strong with sarcasm, and I sounded unkind and condescending . I'm not kidding it's taken me 20 years, and this silly situation today for a eureka moment. I'm like oh no...... this is what I've been doing to people. This is how I treat people and act when experiencing social anxiety ! I had NO idea. I believe this is the first step to stopping this awful habit and getting better.
December, 8 2018 at 6:00 pm
Being constantly berated by the individual with anxiety can feel abusive!!! When you reach your limit the person with anxiety doesn't know why your upset or what your talking about. Then blames you for misunderstanding. Please be aware the anxiety negatively affects EVERYONE
Anxiety is purgatory
December, 3 2018 at 11:08 am
This. This was written perfectly. How do you move forward or what exercises do you do to control this behavior? I will get back on medication if I have to or back to counseling. I’m so dang tired of being like this. I have no friends anymore and the few people I do interact with I can tell they don’t like me. I’m so isolated by this anxiety it makes it worse.
Mixed Emotions
November, 23 2018 at 10:29 pm
I have been with my husband for 22 years , married for 11. I love him and want to make it work but it has gotten bad. He likes to call me names and make everyone feel bad. He also likes to drink and when he does it makes everything worse. A week ago I asked him to move out and get himself help. He sent me this article today. After reading it I get mixed emotions. I have tried asking him time and time again to quit drinking and be nicer. I just don’t want to walk away if it something as easy as getting on medication but I also don’t want to put myself and kids last anymore.
May, 5 2019 at 4:15 am
Forget him, he's just manipulating and abusing you. Abusive relationships always start as normal but slowly become unbearable. If he truly loved you, he would have gotten on medication and stopped being like that long ago
Desperate for help
October, 14 2018 at 3:16 pm
I am stuck and need advice. My husband has anxiety and I completely understand how it feels. I have learned from years of therapy how to think first and try to keep a clear head. He, unfortunately, does not seem to want help and medicates himself in an addictive behavior. I try and do everything I can to keep stressors away from him and handle everything, bc I know he cannot. That means handling all 6 kids, keeping the house inside and out clean and kept, all errands, well this list could go on forever. Eventually I get worn down and need help (which I do not get). When this happens, and I ask for help or understanding bc my situation has been piled on for so long, he has an anxiety attack. He says the most mean things about me, flips the situation as if he does everything and I do nothing, and makes me feel completely alone and worthless and tells me his anxiety is worse and I just say I have it for pity. I could be crying in front of him asking him to stop, and he will continue to berate me. His go to request is always divorce. We have separated in the past, and he begged me to understand his anxiety and come back. I did because I love him. Because I believe in what we said in our vows. But he has a way with words that makes me feel like life would be better without me for everyone, not just him. My kids want me to leave, but I feel torn bc I know he can be good. I feel guilty because sometimes I question if he is just saying he has anxiety just to not feel guilty for telling me how he really feels (bc it is horrible and no one should ever hear it) or if he really is having anxiety and I am a bad person for questioning it. Please help me....idk what to do
October, 15 2018 at 11:26 am
Forgive me for being blunt, but I feel the situation necessitates it: you need to leave. This situation is dangerous on multiple fronts. Though his behavior may be because of his anxiety, he's being emotionally abusive. You are not worthless, and his berating you is completely unacceptable. And you taking on all the responsibility for his well being, while admirable, is destroying your emotional well being. I also worry about the well-being of your children - if you're devoting all your time to trying to fix his problems, you're not going to give them as much attention as they need. What's most important is the well being of you and your children, and right now neither of you are getting that.
He needs to get help, and it's unfortunate that he seems to think self-medication is going to be sufficient. It isn't. He needs professional help, whatever may work for him. Regardless, this situation is too much for you to handle, and until he gets the professional help he needs, which may take a long time, you and your children are not going to be in a good place being around him.
I know this is difficult to hear. I don't doubt that there are things about him you love - you wouldn't have married him if there weren't. But please, leave. Don't think twice, just leave. If you don't, I fear there's going to be a breaking point, and I fear for you and your children. I hope that he finds the help he needs someday. But until that happens, you owe it to yourself and the rest of your family to continue your life on your own.
September, 24 2018 at 11:43 am

My now ex-boyfriend suffers from severe anxiety and panic disorder. He was on meds but had an adverse reaction to them and decided to quit cold turkey on July 30th. Since then in the following weeks his anxiety and panic attacks intensified. He had nightmares and barely gets any sleep. Slowly his behaviour began to change. I urged him to get help and go back to see his doctor. He refused.
From Aug 19-31 he was traveling for work. He works in a very demanding and very high stressed field. I should also mention he's mildly on the autistic spectrum.
In August up until the 24th we were still making life plans together. He had his attacks but he was able to work through them.
August 25th he had a severe attack that lasted hours.
August 26th he was paralyzed by his anxiety and sat in hotel room on his bed for 6hrs. Since then he's had constant attacks and began self medicating with alcohol. He doesn't always get drunk but he will if the opportunity is there. He never did that before.
Since the 26th he's been distant. He said he still loved me and that he didn't want this to end as of Sept 11th. He had another severe attack on the 14th when we were supposed to see each other. He canceled on me and decided to go out and get drunk with colleagues. But he apologized and said he still wanted to be together. I reassured him I would always be here for him.
He had to fly out to NY again for work. I didn't hear from him for 5 days. I didn't reach out either because I didn't want to give him additional pressure on top of his work. He was out drinking every night.
He returns Wednesday Sept 19 and is a completely different person. He was hostile, verbally abusive, cruel in his words and uncaring. He broke up with me. I didn't fight him on it, I left. He also admitted to using adderall to help him focus at work during his panic attacks. He texted the next day to say Sorry but we haven't spoken or texted since.

I guess what I'm asking is, is this normal? Can someone's personality change so drastically? Prior to Aug 25th he was loving, kind, sweet and we were totally in love.
He is refusing help. I'm scared and worried for him but I don't know how to approach this. He ended things with me and isn't likely to want my help.
September, 26 2018 at 10:00 am
Hi Confused,

It sounds like, despite the adverse reaction he had to his medication, they were helping him keep under control. Quitting cold turkey does not sound like it was a good idea, and it is probably in his best interest to find another medication that works for him at some point.

I know you are worried about him, but if I'm being honest, breaking up with him is probably a good thing. After he changed, you were not in a good place with him, and you deserve better than to be caught in the center of his tirade of abuse. Of course, it's OK to hope for the best and want him to find help. It's clear that you care for him and his well being. But at this point, being apart from him is best for you, and, honestly, for him too. He needs to understand that it's on him to get the help he needs, and that his current behavior is toxic. He's not going to get that message if you were still with him.
September, 27 2018 at 1:30 pm
Hi TJ,

Thank you for your response. I know you're right. The last month was very toxic for me. It is hard to walk away from someone you love even though you know it's the right thing to do. I don't know that he will seek help and I worry about the alcohol and adderall combo he's taking. But I no longer recognize this person. The change over the last month is scary to me. I'm afraid for him.
September, 28 2018 at 10:44 am
I'm really glad you found my response to be helpful. I understand how hard it can be, but you are doing the right thing. I sincerely hope he will find the help he needs, but that is on him now.
October, 9 2018 at 3:54 pm
Hi TJ, Need some guidance. My ex has been texting me about random things. It's not often, about once a week. Then when I respond he either is mean or doesn't reply. My answers are straight forward and not open ended or emotional. If he is trying to reach out for help then I'd like to be there. But if he is just continuing to test me then I would to cut communication. Should I ask him?
October, 10 2018 at 11:42 am
This is a tough one. My gut instinct is telling me that he's continuing to test you - if he were genuinely wanting your advice, I feel his responses would be kinder, and he certainly wouldn't ignore your responses. I can't shake the negative feeling I have here. You're coming at this from a good place and you deserve better than the responses he's giving you.
September, 6 2018 at 5:13 pm
My daughter has anxiety. Severe social anxiety and fears. She doesn't sleep well, insomnia at night and 'lithargic' through the day (most of my family judge her and think she's lazy). She starts arguments and occasionally upsets people with her sarcasm and rudeness, but I know she feels insecure, hates herself and guilty at her snide comments. I think she puts others down as a defence mechanism. She's late for everything, which frustrates family and friends and eventually she makes them angry, they think she's selfish and they now don't like going out with her 'when she's moody'. I love her so much but don't know how to support her. When she's happy she's amazing, but when she's low, it's heartbreaking. Some days she doesn't think she's worth anything and thinks life would be better for everyone if she wasn't here. I don't know what to do?
September, 6 2018 at 6:54 pm
Hi Lily,

You've described classic patterns for both anxiety and depression. It's very hard to see your own child go through something like this. Her remarks about it being better for everyone if she isn't here should be taken seriously. Have you heard of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline? They are available 24/7 via phone or online chat, and there are resources on their website. Check out for information. You can look at the site with your daughter and encourage her to call or chat online. Talking to someone about suicidal thoughts doesn't put ideas in their head, but it does open up the opportunity for discussion and getting help from a therapist.

Also, as a parent, you need support, too. Is there a NAMI affiliate in your area? If so, they will have resources, classes, and support groups designed for parents/spouses/loved ones. They will likely have resources for your daughter, too. Visit to find out if there is one near you.

Overcoming anxiety as a teen or child takes time, but with patience and outside support, it's possible. Hang in there -- it will get better.
Melanie Hamilton
August, 11 2018 at 1:37 am
Wow. This describes me to a T.The guilt is the hardest and most painful part. I have always thought I was alone, thank you so much for sharing.
August, 13 2018 at 9:16 am
Melanie, thank you for the kind comment. No matter how bad things get, you're never alone in your struggles.
Maureen geary
February, 24 2018 at 2:13 pm
My friend is taking meds for anxity and depression I,m very close to this person. Now she's being mean to me and a lot of peaple in this building.especially me is it the meds or something else
February, 8 2018 at 6:03 am
Hi, I am guilty of this and have ruined a wonderful relationship. I recognised my stress and anxiety building and ignored it. O course it ended up in me expoding and being very hurtful. Now I feel worthless and hate myself. How do you avoid this happening?
Really at my wit's end, feel very ill and helpless. Feels like I recognised everything just too late. Dunno where to turn

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 17 2019 at 4:04 pm
Just curious to know what kind of feelings and behavior your anxiety brought to your relationship. Did you blame your unhappiness on your partner?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 17 2019 at 4:04 pm
Just curious to know what kind of feelings and behavior your anxiety brought to your relationship. Did you blame your unhappiness on your partner?
September, 6 2017 at 10:52 pm
My husband has terrible anxiety and is on Citalopram. He is a wonderful man and I love him but he has days when he deteriorates and says the most disgusting things about me and my children. He drinks a lot to cover whatever is going on inside his mind and I used to argue with him and cry all night over what he said but now I can spot the 'beginning of an episode and just agree with him and then hold his hand and this has so far diffused some horrible situations. I just wish I could cure it all to live a normal life like my friends and family do.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

September, 6 2018 at 11:33 pm
I know you posted this a year ago, but I found it now because I've been desperately searching online for someone else dealing with this in their spouse. I want so badly to live easier and normally, but I love my husband to no end. Sometimes he just says things that make me wonder why I - or anyone - would stick around. I don't know how I'm still surprised at his outbursts after all this time. At least I know I'm not alone and can keep reminding myself he can't control it...
September, 7 2018 at 2:38 pm
Hi Serena,

I'm glad you've found some comfort in this post. It can be hard to be around someone like that - I should know because I can be one of those people sometimes. But those outbursts need not define them.
January, 20 2019 at 10:35 am
My husband is doing alot to make himself better. I'm trying to help him with long walks and being engaged at homeby inviting other friends over. He has long list of requirements for me to do to help him. He says mean things when he's having high anxiety, that are very selfish. Like of I'm suffering, you should share my suffering. I don't care if you're sleepy, i haven't slept for days. Those kind of things. Sex part is constant issue, he says it helps him sleep. He complsins what I'm doing is not enough. What to do with this?
August, 4 2017 at 8:12 am
Wow I wish I read this last month! I split up with a girl because I thought she was just awkward, nasty and weird - she did mention anxiety once but would never talk to me about her feelings or stuff like that - in fact after a very random arguement (she was agreeing with what I was saying but arguing like we were disagreeing, and repeating what I just said but not agreeing with me?) I said I can't figure her out and she told me don't even try she can't figure herself out a week later we split up and I may of been a bit harsh on her telling her all the horrible things she said and basically saying she was a terrible girlfriend that's why she'd had terrible ex's - the hell do I apologise to her cause she's just shut me out like we never even met each other!?
Richard Ward
June, 14 2017 at 9:08 pm
I dealing with anxiety and depression I have said things I shouldn't have. One ? I still talk to my ex girlfriend who tore my heart apart is this a good idea
May, 22 2017 at 6:51 am
Hey Julia, just reading this because my friend says I don't understand her severe anxiety. I wanted to know if anxiety can make you say nasty things to people because last weekend she actually managed to get herself banned from ever being at my boyfriend's house agin (by his mother!) because she was incredibly rude. I called her out on this and now she isn't talking to me. I understand she has anxiety and I have done my best to be understanding and accomodating however last weekend she just went too far. She wanted to throw our god child in the fire because she doesn't like children :/ I am of the opinion that anxiety doesn't control what comes out of your mouth, but that's just an opinion. I'm here searching for evidence that it may have been responsible for the things she said. Even so, it's hard because she really hurt a lot of people's feeling including my own and I have been there for her for so many years. I cooked her food and let her take all the left overs when she said she had no money for food. I drove from Sydney to Brisbane to help her move house. I have sacrificed my own comfort and spent evening incredibly stressed making sure that she is as comfortable as possible. I drive her all over the place because she's too anxious to learn to drive and hates taking the train over to my house. The list goes on forever... really. I have very rarely been thanked for these things. She even keeps the tupperware I give her all the food I cooked for her in :/ I'm just finding it very hard after this weekend where she offended a lot of people and has deflected any responsibility she has over it onto her severe anxiety. I managed to get her to see a psychologist last year and I believe she is still on anti anxiety meds but she is not really helping herself in the ways I have been seeing online, like getting enough sleep, eating healthy, exercising etc... It almost feels as if she enjoys being anxious which is an awful thing of me to think. I don't know if you have any wisdom to share with someone who is on the end of their tether. I really don't mind her anxiety but when she starts saying hurtful thing to other people that's where I draw the line. Presently she is not talking to me. I hope she does soon. I have encouraged her to return to her psychologist because if she does not try to improve her situation then I will find it very hard to continue helping someone who wont help themselves.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

December, 2 2018 at 10:17 am
Sometimes when someone is really anxious, it feels like they’re going to explode inside. And in a way, it’s almost worse when other people stay relatively calm. Thus, some people with anxiety lash out because they feel less anxious when they make otherwise calm people anxious and upset. Kind of sad and perverse, but I hope this answer helps.
April, 30 2017 at 11:29 am
Help needed. If possible could you advice me on anxiety issues with someone I am close to?
Jose Kuhn
May, 6 2016 at 3:40 pm
This article explains Steve Jobs, Bubba Watson, Gordon Ramsay and me......

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Julia Banim
May, 8 2016 at 9:52 am
Hi Jose, that is an interesting thought. Often Gordon Ramsay's attitude on TV is spoken about comically, but I expect that his often negative way of speaking can be very anxiety inducing both for himself and other people. Jules x
May, 6 2016 at 1:28 pm
Been there, done that. Just add beer and the verbals get worse sometimes. Then regret and depression. When elevated GAD, or anxiety, I have learned to speak slower and think before you speak. But, no one is perfect. Who can judge who?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Julia Banim
May, 8 2016 at 9:49 am
Hi John, you are absolutely right. Being non judgemental is so important when you have a friend with a mental illness. I always find that its best to keep a clear mind and stay away from the beer during times of elevated anxiety. Jules x

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