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Get Your Consultation: 734-992-7700
Fax: 734-585-5634

Unmasking Anxiety: How to Identify and Understand Your Feelings


Anxiety is a common and natural emotional response to various life situations. The truth is that we all experience it at some point, whether it’s before a big presentation, a job interview or maybe even a first date. When anxiety becomes overwhelming and persistent, it can significantly impact one’s quality of life and well-being. To help those that may be experiencing anxiety, we will delve into the intricacies of anxiety and go over how to identify its manifestations while explaining the importance of understanding your feelings. 

Defining Anxiety 

Anxiety is more than just a fleeting feeling of nervousness; it is a complex emotional state that can manifest in various forms and levels of intensity. It’s essential to differentiate between everyday stress and clinical anxiety, as recognizing the latter is the first step toward addressing and managing it. 

Common Manifestations of Anxiety

Anxiety can present itself in a multitude of ways, both emotionally and physically. Here are some common manifestations. 

Excessive Worry 

Excessive worry is a common display of anxiety that many people experience but may not immediately recognize. It is often characterized by a persistent and overwhelming sense of unease, accompanied by racing thoughts and an inability to control or stop worrying. This constant state of apprehension can make it challenging to focus on daily tasks and can significantly impact one’s overall well-being. 

woman-laying-down-with-anxiety-headache Physical Symptoms

Often overlooked or attributed to other causes, physical symptoms are commonly associated with anxiety. When experiencing anxiety, the body reacts in various ways, leading to a range of physical sensations. These can include rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, muscle tension, headaches, stomachaches, and even dizziness. These physical symptoms can be distressing and alarming, sometimes leading individuals to believe they have a serious medical condition. It is important to recognize that these symptoms are often a result of anxiety and not a direct physical ailment. 


Restlessness can be displayed in various ways, such as fidgeting, pacing, or an inability to sit still or relax. This constant need for movement is often a result of the heightened state of alertness and tension that anxiety brings. 

Irrational Fears

Anxiety can often manifest itself through a range of irrational fears that can be challenging to understand and navigate. These fears may seem irrational or disproportionate to the situation at hand, but for individuals experiencing anxiety, they feel very real and compelling. Common irrational fears associated with anxiety can include fear of social situations, fear of failure, fear of judgment or even specific phobias.

Panic Attacks 

Panic attacks are distressing and can leave individuals feeling frightened and out of control. These sudden and intense surges of fear and anxiety can come out of nowhere and be accompanied by physical symptoms such as a racing heartbeat, shortness of breath, chest pain, trembling and a sense of impending doom. Panic attacks can be triggered by various factors, including stressful situations, phobias, or even without an apparent cause. In recognizing the signs and symptoms of panic attacks, individuals can seek appropriate support and develop coping strategies to manage their anxiety effectively. 

woman-obsessively-washing-hands Obsessions and Compulsions

Obsessions are intrusive, persistent thoughts or urges that cause distress, while compulsions are repetitive behaviors or mental acts performed in response to these obsessions. These obsessions and compulsions may revolve around themes such as cleanliness, orderliness, safety or a need for symmetry. It is important to note that these thoughts and behaviors can be time-consuming and interfere with normal functioning. 

Social Anxiety

Social anxiety is characterized by an intense fear and discomfort in social situations, leading to avoidance or a heightened sense of self-consciousness. People with social anxiety often worry excessively about being judged, embarrassed, or humiliated, making it challenging for them to speak up, participate in conversations and attend social gatherings. 


Perfectionism is another common expression of anxiety that can have a profound impact on an individual’s mental well-being. People who struggle with perfectionism often set unrealistically high standards for themselves and feel an intense pressure to achieve flawlessness in every aspect of their lives. This relentless pursuit of perfection can lead to chronic stress, self-criticism and an overwhelming fear of failure. Individuals with perfectionistic tendencies may find it difficult to delegate tasks, experience excessive procrastination, or struggle with decision-making due to a fear of making mistakes.

Difficulty Focusing 

Difficulty focusing can also be associated with anxiety because when anxiety takes hold, it becomes challenging to stay present and fully engaged in tasks at hand. Racing thoughts, worries, and a constant sense of unease can make it difficult for individuals to maintain focus on one thing for an extended period. This can lead to decreased efficiency, increased frustration and a sense of feeling overwhelmed.

Sleep Disturbances

Anxiety often leads to racing thoughts, worries, and a heightened state of alertness, making it difficult to wind down and fall asleep. Sleep disturbances can take the form of insomnia, where individuals struggle to initiate or maintain sleep, or restless and fragmented sleep patterns. Lack of quality sleep further exacerbates anxiety, creating a vicious cycle that can leave individuals feeling exhausted and emotionally drained. By implementing healthy sleep habits, such as establishing a consistent bedtime routine, creating a comfortable sleep environment, and practicing relaxation techniques, individuals can improve their sleep quality and better manage their anxiety. Seeking professional support when needed is also essential in addressing underlying anxiety issues and restoring restful nights of sleep.

Understanding the Root Causes

Identifying and understanding anxiety requires delving deeper into the root causes and triggers. Anxiety can stem from various sources, including:

Biological Factors: Genetic predisposition and brain chemistry can play a significant role in anxiety disorders.

Environmental Factors: Childhood trauma, exposure to chronic stress, or life-changing events can contribute to the development of anxiety.

Personality: Certain personality traits, such as high levels of neuroticism, may increase the likelihood of anxiety.

Brain Chemistry: Imbalances in neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, can influence mood and contribute to anxiety.

Cognitive Factors: Negative thought patterns, unrealistic expectations and irrational beliefs can perpetuate anxiety.

Breaking the Stigma Surrounding Anxiety

One of the most significant barriers to understanding and addressing anxiety is the stigma that often surrounds mental health concerns. Society has come a long way in reducing this stigma, but many individuals still hesitate to seek help due to fears of judgment or misconceptions about mental health. It’s essential to recognize that anxiety is a common human experience, and seeking support is a sign of strength, not weakness.

The Importance of Seeking Help

If you or someone you know is struggling with anxiety, seeking professional help can make a profound difference. Therapy and counseling provide a safe and supportive environment to explore the root causes of anxiety, develop coping strategies, and ultimately regain control over one’s life.

Therapy and Counseling: A Path to Wellness

college-student-seeking-therapy-to-help-understand-anxiety Our counselors specializing in anxiety disorders can help folks  unmask many of these feelings and develop personalized strategies to manage and overcome anxiety. Here’s how therapy can help:

  1. Identification and Validation: Therapy provides a space for individuals to identify and validate their feelings. Often, simply recognizing and acknowledging anxiety is a significant step towards healing.
  1. Understanding Triggers: our therapists can help uncover the triggers and root causes of anxiety. This deeper understanding is essential for effective management.
  1. Coping Strategies: Our providers offer practical tools and coping strategies to navigate anxiety in daily life. These strategies empower folks to regain steady footing in their lives.  
  1. Support and Guidance: and yes, therapists offer unwavering support and guidance throughout the healing journey. Creating non-judgmental and empathetic space for individuals to express themselves goes without saying. Remember, we “begin to heal when we feel heard”, and we take you beyond that.
  1. Holistic Approach: Therapy often takes a holistic approach, addressing emotional, behavioral, and cognitive aspects of anxiety. This comprehensive strategy yields the best results.

The Path to Emotional Wellness

At Lotus Consulting in Ann Arbor, MI, we are committed to helping individuals unmask their anxiety, understand their feelings and take the necessary steps towards emotional wellness. Our team of compassionate therapists and counselors specializes in anxiety disorders and provides personalized care for each individual’s unique needs.

Don’t let anxiety control your life. Seek help, explore your feelings and get new tools to fortify your journey towards emotional well-being. Remember that you are not alone, and help is available.  Reach out!  Contact us to request an appointment today!

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