6 Ways Anxiety Messes with Your Life

Anxiety messes with lives. That's really the bottom line of anxiety, isn't it? It barges into our lives, uninvited, and acts like a boorish guest. It causes all sorts of miserable symptoms, which are annoying enough as it is. Unfortunately, anxiety isn't just confined to a set of symptoms, but, instead, inserts itself into our lives and has negative effects that cause disruption. While the effects of anxiety are unique to each person who experiences any type of anxiety, there are some effects that many people with anxiety share. In the spirit of "misery loves company," and so you know you're not alone, here are common effects of anxiety--six ways anxiety messes with life.

6 Ways Anxiety Interferes with Your Life

Anxiety interferes in people's lives in many ways. Anxiety disrupted my own life in these six ways, and in talking to and working with people, I've noticed that these are common themes. Perhaps anxiety is affecting your life in one or more of these areas:

  1. Anxiety can make you more emotional than you want to be. Anxiety causes emotional reactivity. When we are anxious, our body is in fight-or-flight mode, and we experience a flood of hormones like cortisol, and our extremities hog our oxygen and blood supply (so we can fight or run away and hide). This can throw the brain off balance, and we can get irritable, easily teary, or generally feel like we're on an emotional roller coaster.
  2. Living with anxiety can take a toll on your physical health. Not only can we experience anxiety symptoms anywhere and everywhere in the body, but the body can suffer damage because of anxiety, too. Anxiety has been linked to autoimmune diseases and their flare-ups,1 digestive disorders,2 cardiovascular disease,3 and other health problems. 
  3. Anxiety is a third wheel in relationships. Whether you're worried about finding and keeping relationships, how your partner, friends, or coworkers are perceiving you, or the health and safety of loved ones, anxiety can be a brick wall between you and the people in your life. 
  4. Anxiety can interfere in your communication. Anxiety can be a pothole or roadblock in the road between your brain and your mouth. It can make us talk too much or too little or say things we don't really mean
  5. To experience anxiety is to have self-doubt. Anxiety destroys confidence, and a healthy belief in our own abilities to do what we need or want to do. This can lead to hesitation, procrastination, and the uncomfortable feeling that we are a stranger in our own skin and do nothing but get in everyone's way because we can't do anything right. 
  6. Anxiety can lead to avoidance. Anxiety gets in the way of what we want to do as well as what we need to do every day. It can make it hard to face work and engage in play. In extreme cases, it contributes to avoidant personality disorder.

The Ultimate Consequence of Anxiety

These six effects of anxiety add up to one big, annoying, unfortunate consequence: Anxiety keeps you locked out of your life. It pulls you out of your present moment and puts you in the past, future, or trapped in your thoughts about your present. One of the most tragic aspects of anxiety is that it creates a life for you, and it's a life that you don't want. 

If you experience any of these effects of anxiety or any other of anxiety's effects, know that you're not alone. Know, too, that these are, indeed, effects of anxiety, not personal flaws, or something you're doing on purpose. Also, know that anxiety is acting on your life, but it isn't your real life or your real self. In the next post, we'll explore some ways you can minimize the effects of anxiety and take back your life. 


  1. American Autoimmune and Related Diseases Association (AARDA), "Anxiety." Accessed October 7, 2020. 
  2. Healthbeat, "The Gut-Brain Connection." Harvard Health Publishing: Harvard Medical School, Accessed October 7, 2020. 
  3. McCann, U., "Anxiety and Heart Disease." Heart & Vascular Institute: Johns Hopkins Medicine, Accessed October 7, 2020. 

APA Reference
Peterson, T. (2020, October 8). 6 Ways Anxiety Messes with Your Life , HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 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.

Leave a reply