Everything To Know About Crippling Anxiety

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What Is Crippling Anxiety?
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What is crippling anxiety?
Crippling anxiety is a severe form of anxiety that can make it difficult to function in everyday life.

Symptoms can include:
- Intense fear
- Shortness of breath
- Racing heart
- Dizziness
- Feelings of terror or doom

For people with crippling anxiety, even normal daily activities can be a challenge. It may be hard to go to work or school, socialize with friends, or do anything that requires leaving home. The fear and symptoms of crippling anxiety can be so overwhelming that they disrupt normal life activities.

Causes Of Anxiety
- Genetics
- Brain chemistry
- Traumatic life events
- Drug or alcohol abuse

Types of Crippling Anxiety
- Generalized Anxiety disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder

Symptoms of GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder)
- Difficulty handling uncertainty
- Perceiving situations and occurrences as scary even when they aren't
- Fear of making the wrong choice and indecision
- An inability to ignore or let go of a concern
- Lack of ability to unwind, restlessness, and feeling tense or on edge
- The inability to focus on the sensation that your mind "goes blank"
- Persistent fear or worry over a variety of things that is out of relation to how the events have affected those things
- Overanalyzing plans and options to account for all worst-case scenarios
- Difficulty handling uncertainty perceiving situations and occurrences as scary even when they aren't
- Fear of making the wrong choice and indecision

Physical symptoms of GAD:
- Tiredness
- Muscle ache
- Insomnia
- Feeling shaky and restless
- Sweating
- Diarrhea
- Mood swings
- Constant need to pee

Treatment Strategies For Anxiety:
- Medication
- Therapy

Other Ways To Ease Anxiety:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Aerobic exercise
- Getting enough sleep
- Spending time with your loved ones
- Practicing relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga

Feeling anxious is a relatively common feeling but when you regularly feel anxious, it might be due to a mental health condition.

Living with crippling anxiety can be challenging because it can make your mind race, make you dread actions that other people find easy (like commuting to work), and make your problems seem unavoidable.

Similarly, it might be challenging to love someone who suffers from anxiety. You could feel overwhelmed by how your partner's emotions impact your daily life or helpless to intervene. Accordingly, this article will discuss crippling anxiety, its types, causes, and symptoms.

What is crippling anxiety

Before explaining "crippling anxiety," we'll point out some facts about anxiety disorder and briefly define "anxiety."

Do you know that anxiety disorder is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States? Were you informed that approximately 40 million people in the United States have anxiety disorders? However, 36.9 percent of them are receiving treatment. [1]

Anxiety is described as an emotion marked by feelings of tension, anxious thoughts, and bodily changes, such as elevated blood pressure." [2]

Crippling anxiety is a common term used to describe anxiety disorder or severe anxiety, as it could affect your ability to go about doing important activities, unlike "ordinary" cases of anxiety. [3] And if you're uncertain if you have anxiety yourself, try this Anxiety Test.

Crippling Anxiety table

Origin of anxiety and anxiety disorders

Feelings of anxiety when one is exposed to potentially dangerous or disturbing situations are not only normal but also essential for survival. [4]

Since the beginning of time, humans have had physical alarms that enable them to take evasive action when predators or danger is nearby. These warnings manifest as elevated heart rate, perspiration, and enhanced sensitivity to the environment. The acute physiological stress response to an emergency alarm and mobilization during the day and at night may paint a more vivid picture. 

The "fight-or-flight" response, which is brought on by the adrenalin rush triggered by the threat, is a hormonal and chemical messenger that the brain produces. This hormone makes people physically capable of fending off or escaping any potential dangers. [5]

Running from bigger creatures and impending danger is a less urgent issue for many individuals than it would have been for early humans. These days, the main sources of anxiety are things like work, money, family life, health, and other important matters that need a person's attention but don't necessarily call for the "fight-or-flight" response. [6]

It can be easier to recognize and get treatment for an anxiety problem if one knows the difference between typical anxious feelings and an anxiety disorder that needs medical attention.

Social Media Is Also A Culprit

In the nuanced narrative of crippling anxiety, the role of social media is both significant and sinister. While platforms are designed for connection, they often catalyze the opposite effect – breeding ground for isolation and heightened anxiety. We've extensively researched and penned insights on the toxicity of social media and its undeniable contribution to the amplification of anxiety.

Every like, share, or scroll can sometimes be a silent trigger, exacerbating feelings of unease and nervousness. In the quest to be socially connected, individuals are paradoxically plunged into virtual environments that sometimes heighten anxiety, rather than alleviate it.

A man struggling with his anxiety

Anxiety disorder

Sometimes the intensity or duration of an anxious emotion is out of proportion to the source of stress that initially set it off. Additionally, physical symptoms like nausea and elevated blood pressure could appear. Through these reactions, anxiety becomes an anxiety disorder.

According to the American Psychologist Association (APA), an individual with an anxiety disorder "has repeated intrusive thoughts or concerns characterized by intense fear." [7]

When anxiety becomes a problem, it can make it difficult to go about regular tasks.

Can Anxiety Be Triggered By Melatonin?

Anxiety can be as slippery and evasive as a bar of soap in a wet hand. Many are often blindsided by its onset, not realizing that it can be triggered by the most unexpected sources, like melatonin. We’ve explored the link between anxiety and melatonin, opening a dialogue about the complex relationship between sleep supplements and our mental health.

“Understanding the triggers is the first step to mastery over anxiety.”

Types of crippling anxiety graphic

Types of crippling anxiety

Anxiety disorders are divided into the following types by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-V).

Generalized anxiety disorder

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a persistent disorder characterized by excessive anxiety and worries over unrelated people, things and circumstances in life. The most prevalent anxiety illness, GAD, leaves sufferers unable to always pinpoint the source of their concern. [8]

According to the ADAA's Anxiety Disorders - Facts & Statistics, GAD affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population, yet only 43.2% are receiving treatment. The illness is more common in adults between 35 and 59, and women are twice as affected as men. [9]

Symptoms of GAD

Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder might vary. They may consist of:

  • Difficulty handling uncertainty
  • Perceiving situations and occurrences as scary even when they aren't
  • Fear of making the wrong choice and indecision
  • An inability to ignore or let go of a concern
  • Lack of ability to unwind, restlessness and feeling tense or on edge
  • The inability to focus on the sensation that your mind "goes blank"
  • Persistent fear or worry over a variety of things that are out of relation to how the events have affected those things
  • Overanalyzing plans and options to account for all worst-case scenarios
  • Difficulty handling uncertainty, perceiving situations and occurrences as scary even when they aren't

Physical symptoms and signs could be:

  • Tiredness
  • Muscle ache
  • Insomnia
  • Feeling shaky and restless
  • Sweating
  • Diarrhea
  • Mood swings
An anxious woman talking to her therapist

Obsessive compulsive disorder

This mental disease, commonly known as OCD, is characterized by recurrent, unwanted thoughts or sensations (obsessions) or the impulse to do certain repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Obsessions and compulsions are both common in these people. [10]

OCD affects 2.5 million adults or 1.2% of the U.S. population. Women are three times more likely to be affected than men. The average age of onset is 19, with 25% of cases occurring by age 14. One-third of affected adults first experienced symptoms in childhood. [11]

Did you know?

Obsessive love can stem from OCD, as intrusive, compulsive thoughts about a person can take over one's life. To learn more about obsessive love, we recommend reading What Is Obsessive Love Disorder?
A woman struggling with her anxiety

Panic disorder

Panic disorders are characterized by brief or unexpected episodes of extreme anxiety and uneasiness. Shaking, confusion, nausea, dizziness, and breathing difficulties might result from these attacks. [12]

Panic attacks frequently start mild and quickly worsen, reaching their peak after ten minutes. A panic episode, however, could linger for several hours. While they frequently follow terrifying events or periods of intense stress, panic disorders can also strike suddenly. A person having a panic attack could mistake it for a serious sickness and alter their conduct drastically to prevent further attacks.

While most people have at least one panic attack at some point, those who have panic disorder frequently have attacks.

Panic disorder can manifest in children, but the symptoms often appear in early adulthood, between 18 and 25. Females are twice as likely as males to develop it. Although scientists have not yet discovered a connection between panic disorder and a particular gene or chemical, genetic and biological variables may enhance the probability of developing them.

The condition may emerge when a person with specific genetic characteristics is exposed to environmental pressures. These include significant life transitions like having a first child or moving away from home. Physical or sexual abuse in the past could also raise the risk.

Panic disorder affects 6 million adults, or 2.7% of the U.S. population, and women are twice as likely to be affected as men. [13]

Symptoms of a panic attack

  • Chest ache and tension
  • Fear of dying
  • Irrational fear of losing control or "becoming mad"
  • Chills or feeling hot
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • A feeling of being separated from reality
  • Nausea and an upset stomach
  • Heart palpitations, an irregular pulse, or a high heart rate
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Shivering, sweating, or trembling

The signs of a panic attack can match those of other illnesses, such as thyroid issues, heart ailments or lung disorders. When having a panic attack, a person may go to the emergency room because they believe they are having a heart attack. [14] A book that recommend is The EMDR Workbook for Trauma & PTSD: Skills to Manage Triggers, Move Beyond Traumatic Memories & Take Back Your Life, to help you cope with your PTSD.

Social anxiety disorder

Social anxiety disorder (SAD) is a form of anxiety characterized by feeling abnormally awkward or nervous at social events or gatherings. [15]

SAD affects 15 million adults or 7.1% of the US population. SAD is equally common among men and women and commonly begins around age 13. According to a 2007 ADAA survey, 36% of people with social anxiety disorder report experiencing symptoms for 10 or more years before seeking help. [16]

A woman comforting an anxious woman

Causes of anxiety disorders

Controversy remains regarding the causes of anxiety disorders. People who are frequently anxious seem more susceptible to anxiety disorders when exposed to severe life situations. Inherited traits can also play a role.

Several medical causes can be linked to anxiety. Your doctor may prescribe tests if they feel that your anxiety may have a medical reason. [17]

Examples of medical problems linked to anxiety are PTSD, heart diseases, diabetes, tumors that can produce adrenaline, respiratory disorders, thyroid problems and the use of certain drugs.

A mom talking to her anxious son

How to manage anxiety

In the past few decades, research has advanced significantly in addressing mental health issues. A mental health professional will organize a treatment strategy that is right for you. Your strategy can include both medications and psychotherapy. The various means of treating anxiety include:


A licensed clinical social worker can administer anxiety medications, including anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, and beta blockers. Medications cannot cure an anxiety disorder. However, the drugs can help you feel better and perform your daily activities better. [18]


Therapy sessions can also help you manage debilitating anxiety and live everyday life. You could employ various types of therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, group therapy and talk therapy. [19]

In fact, we recommend Online Therapy to help you with your anxiety.

Improve Your Emotional Awareness

Addressing crippling anxiety requires a holistic approach that includes a deep dive into emotional awareness. Understanding and identifying emotions can significantly reduce the intensity and impact of anxiety attacks. Emotional awareness involves recognizing triggers, comprehending emotional responses, and adopting coping strategies to mitigate anxiety's effects.

It serves as a foundational element in the treatment and management of anxiety, enabling individuals to discern and address their emotional states proactively.

Other treatments

Other ways to ease anxiety include:

  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Aerobic exercise
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Spending time with your loved ones
  • Practicing relaxation techniques like meditation and yoga

Anxiety helpline

If you or your loved one has a distress or panic attack due to crippling anxiety or you need access to a professional mental health therapist, you can promptly contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)'s National Helpline for free via 1-800-662-HELP (4357). You can also call 911 immediately and seek help.

Signs of Healing Amidst Anxiety

In the turbulent journey of crippling anxiety, it's essential to recognize the quiet yet potent signs of recovery. 12 distinct signs of healing from trauma serve as beacons of hope amidst the chaos. These indicators are not just milestones but proof of the resilience innate in us. Every recognized sign is a step away from the crippling clutches of anxiety and a move towards mental and emotional tranquility. As you navigate through the unsettling pathways of anxiety, these signs are your compass, offering direction, hope, and testament to the silent yet potent process of healing unfolding within.

Personal Stories About People With Crippling Anxiety

Jim Folk

Jim's battle with anxiety disorder began in the summer of 1975, shortly after his 21st birthday. Previously leading a normal life, he suddenly experienced a powerful wave of sensations during a casual conversation with friends. Sweating, racing heart, nausea, and a sense of impending doom overwhelmed him. These episodes persisted and were followed by intermittent stomach problems, which gradually worsened over time. Despite medical consultations and tests, no concrete answers were found, and Jim's doctor attributed his symptoms to a nervous stomach.

Amidst his health struggles, a significant opportunity arose for Jim to pursue his passion for music professionally. However, torn between his dreams and the responsibility of supporting his ailing father and the family business, he made the difficult choice to prioritize his family. As the pressures mounted, his anxiety and stomach problems intensified. Seeking relief, Jim turned to medication, but the side effects and diminishing effectiveness left him frustrated and exhausted. He even contemplated suicide as the relentless symptoms took a toll on his personal and family life.

Desperate for a solution, Jim's wife recommended a stress psychologist who had successfully helped a friend with similar symptoms. In 1985, he met Dr. Bart Jessop, who finally provided a diagnosis—severe anxiety and panic attack disorder—and offered a comprehensive recovery plan. Although the journey would be arduous, Jim diligently followed Dr. Jessop's guidance and began to regain control over his life. With patience and perseverance, he experienced gradual improvements in his physical and mental well-being. Today, Jim serves as an inspiration to others, sharing his story of resilience and offering hope to those facing similar challenges.

Read Jim Folk's story.


Ten years ago, Marie and her husband Owen faced a series of challenges that threatened their stability and happiness. Owen's diagnosis of osteoarthritis arthritis and the need for a bilateral hip replacement plunged them into financial hardship, exacerbated by the recession and the news of Marie's pregnancy. The mounting debts and Owen's deteriorating health forced them to confront the possibility of losing their home and livelihood. Amidst this turmoil, Marie battled with her own mental health, experiencing clinical depression and debilitating panic attacks.

In the midst of their struggles, Marie found solace and a glimmer of hope through Pranic Healing. Skeptical at first, she decided to give it a try, and the effects were transformative. The healing sessions brought a newfound sense of peace and relaxation to her body, and the panic attacks ceased. Encouraged by these positive changes, Marie continued her healing journey, and within six months, her lifelong anxiety vanished, and she no longer relied on medication. She discovered inner strength, self-belief, and a positive mindset, enabling her to make profound changes in her life and embrace a healthier future.

Now equipped with the tools and techniques she learned through Pranic Healing, Marie's life has taken a positive turn. She has become a beacon of inspiration, not only for herself and her family but also for others facing physical and emotional challenges. By organizing charity events and dedicating herself to helping others, she has found fulfillment and a sense of purpose. Marie's story is a testament to the power of resilience, self-discovery, and the transformative potential of holistic healing approaches like Pranic Healing.

Read Marie's story.

Brittany McGowan

Brittany McGowan, an AMI ambassador, has always been passionate about mental health due to her own personal challenges in that area. Inspired by her own healing journey, she felt compelled to join NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and advocate for removing the stigma surrounding mental health. What drew her to NAMI was the comforting and welcoming environment it provided, offering a safe space for individuals to share their experiences and find support and resources, regardless of having a clinical diagnosis.

Initially, Brittany was not comfortable sharing her own mental health struggles and even failed to recognize them within herself. Accepting her anxiety as normal, she pushed through life without addressing her emotional well-being. However, as she became more educated about mental health, she realized that her experiences were not normal, and individuals should not have to endure overwhelming sadness or anxiety. This understanding motivated her to seek help for herself and encouraged her to spread awareness about the importance of seeking assistance and not facing mental health challenges alone.

In 2020, during the pandemic, Brittany had a breakthrough moment where she had to confront deep-rooted issues that she had previously brushed off. Quarantining alone allowed her the opportunity to reflect on her life and recognize the need for healing. She engaged in various coping strategies such as journaling, but when the feelings persisted, she decided to seek therapy and lean on her supportive family. Despite the initial hesitations and fears associated with returning to her parents' home, she recognized the value of being surrounded by a supportive network. Through self-compassion and understanding, Brittany's journey toward healing has been characterized by ups and downs, but she has learned to accept and embrace herself, offering support and understanding to others along the way.

Watch Brittany McGowan's story.


Anxiety disorder could be erratic, perplexing and bothersome. It's not only difficult for those who have it, but also for the individuals in their lives. If you know someone with overwhelming anxiety, you understand how awful it feels to witness their uneasiness and would do anything to ease their suffering.

Don't hesitate to talk to your loved ones and seek professional treatment if you have an anxiety disorder or know someone with the condition. Treatment of anxiety without support isn't advisable.


Can anxiety be cured?

Anxiety disorder cannot be entirely reversed. However, it can be managed effectively with medications, therapy, a balanced diet, exercise and adequate sleep.

Can post traumatic stress disorder cause anxiety?

Yes, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can heighten anxiety, and anxiety is a typical symptom of PTSD. Hence, both conditions are related.


What Is Crippling Anxiety?
1. Anxiety & Depression Association of America: Anxiety Disorders - Facts & Statistics
2. American Psychological Association (APA): Anxiety
3. Calm Sage: Crippling Anxiety: Signs, Symptoms & How To Manage It
Origin of Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders
4. Cleveland Clinic: Anxiety Disorders
5. NCBI: The acute physiological stress response to an emergency alarm and mobilization during the day and at night
6. Medical News Today: What to know about driving anxiety
Anxiety Disorders
7. American Psychologist Association (APA): Anxiety
Types of Crippling Anxiety
8. HHS.gov: What are the five major types of anxiety disorders?
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
9. John Hopkins Medicine: Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
10. ADAA: Anxiety Disorders - Facts & Statistics
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
11. NHS: Overview - Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
Panic Disorder
12. National Institute of Mental Health: Panic Disorder: When Fear Overwhelms
Symptoms Of A Panic Attack
13. Cleveland Clinic: Panic Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder
14. Mayo Clinic: Social anxiety disorder (social phobia)
How To Manage Anxiety
15. Mayo Clinic: Anxiety Disorders
16. NCBI: Treatment of anxiety disorders
17. Verywell Minds: The 4 Major Classes of Anxiety Medications
18. HelpGuide: Therapy for Anxiety Disorders
Other Treatments
19. Anxiety.org: Anxiety Treatments: Know Your Options

Personal Stories About People With Crippling Anxiety

20. Anxiety Center: Jim Folk

21. Heads Together: Marie

22. Youtube Nami: Brittany McGowan

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