The Effects of Anxiety

All the effects of anxiety are hard to list because there are so many. Learn about the many anxiety effects and what they mean for you at HealthyPlace.

What are the effects of anxiety? Many people are familiar with anxiety; indeed, "anxiety" has become a common household word, and for good reason. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported in 2015 that almost 265 million people worldwide lived with an anxiety disorder1. This figure doesn't include all the people who experience anxiety but not as a diagnosable disorder. Yet despite its prevalence, anxiety can be hard to describe and can leave people wondering if what they're feeling is anxiety or something else. Anxiety is a mental health condition with many effects. Here's a look at what anxiety is based on its effects. 

The Effects of Anxiety Are All-Encompassing

Anxiety can grip you completely, affecting your entire being. Anxiety can involve:

  • Thoughts
  • Emotions
  • Behavior
  • Physical sensations

Everyone's anxiety is a unique experience. Someone might be plagued by negative thinking patterns but nothing else. Someone else might be emotional but only have a limited number of anxious thoughts; for them, overthinking isn't as much as a problem as over-feeling. Someone's anxiety might show itself primarily in the body. Some people are forced into shutdown mode by their anxiety, whereas others can function in the world but do so with extreme discomfort. 

For most people, however, anxiety shows itself in more ways than just one. Even if one of the experiences of anxiety--thoughts, feelings, actions, and bodily sensations--is more predominant than the others, they do operate together and people face all of them to some degree.

This information, while accurate, can be rather vague. It is, indeed, an all-encompassing (and annoying, at best) struggle with numerous effects on the whole person. With thoughts, emotions, behaviors, and physical sensations in mind, let's look at some descriptions of the effects of anxiety that provide insight into what anxiety is. 

Anxiety's Effects

The effects of anxiety include:

  • That feeling of tension that can't be explained in words
  • The jaw you don't realize you're clenching until it begins to hurt
  • The subjective experience of gradual, prolonged suffering
  • Wanting to believe in yourself but fearing it's unjustified
  • Second-guessing your every thought, word, and interaction
  • Wanting to cry because you feel your mistakes 
  • Wanting to cry because you worry deeply about so many things, so many people
  • Wanting to cry without being able to explain why
  • Worrying instead of sleeping
  • Feeling aches like headaches, stomachaches, muscle aches, heartache
  • Worrying about medical bills because of all of the heart attack close calls
  • Feeling shaky and sweaty as you panic
  • Thinking you're seriously ill
  • Hovering over those you care and worry about

Remember This About the Effects of Anxiety

Anxiety is the above effects and many more. When anxiety takes hold, it is almost impossible to completely describe what it is. It's important to remember the descriptions of anxiety that are the most important and accurate of all.

Despite how it often seems, anxiety is:

  • Something you experience but not who you are
  • Temporary
  • An experience you can overcome
  • Weaker than you
  • Vulnerable to your attacks on every front (thoughts, feelings, actions, physical experiences)
  • Stupid; it lacks the rational intelligence that you have

The effects of anxiety can be negative and life-limiting. But that's not the whole picture. Anxiety is beatable, and its positive effects can empower you, build confidence, and allow you to live your life fully and freely. 

What are the effects of anxiety for you?


  1. World Health Organization (WHO), Depression and Other Common Mental Disorders: Global Health Estimates. 2017.

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2019, April 4). The Effects of Anxiety, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 13 from

Author: Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC, DAIS

Tanya J. Peterson is the author of numerous anxiety self-help books, including The Morning Magic 5-Minute Journal, The Mindful Path Through Anxiety, 101 Ways to Help Stop Anxiety, The 5-Minute Anxiety Relief Journal, The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety, The Mindfulness Workbook for Anxiety, and Break Free: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy in 3 steps. She has also written five critically acclaimed, award-winning novels about life with mental health challenges. She delivers workshops for all ages and provides online and in-person mental health education for youth. She has shared information about creating a quality life on podcasts, summits, print and online interviews and articles, and at speaking events. Tanya is a Diplomate of the American Institution of Stress helping to educate others about stress and provide useful tools for handling it well in order to live a healthy and vibrant life. Find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Lizanne Corbit
April, 8 2019 at 1:37 pm

This is a wonderful read from start to finish. I particularly love how you dive into the effects of anxiety. Sometimes being able to recognize something as an effect of anxiety can already help to diminish the overall influence of the anxiety. Such a beautiful and powerful reminder that anxiety is something we experience and not who we are. Thank you for sharing.

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