Hey, Psych2Goers! Are you an anxious person? Does the word ‘anxiety’ fill you with immediate dread? According to Merriam-Webster, ‘anxiety’ is classified as “apprehensive uneasiness or nervousness usually over an impending or anticipated ill”. Do you spend a lot of time stressing about potential future events, that may or may not ever happen?
Or do you almost never feel worried about what’s going to happen next? Anxiety can manifest itself in many different forms. There are five levels of varying intensity that you can potentially feel. Everyone experiences anxiety differently. Do you know what level of anxiety you have at this very moment? Or are you unsure?
Here are ‘5 Stages of Anxiety – Which One Are You?’
Disclaimer: This post is for informative purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. Please reach out to a qualified healthcare provider or mental health professional if you are struggling.
As a heads up, we’ll be starting from the least aggressive stage of anxiety, to the most intense.
#1. Minimal Anxiety
Let’s start out simple. Minimal anxiety is the least aggressive on the scale. If you feel minimal anxiety, you’re able to function with very limited interruptions. Your ability to focus on daily tasks will most likely not be hindered. You probably feel productive for most, if not the entirety of your day. If you have minimal anxiety, then you’re more likely to accomplish almost everything on your To-Do list during those twenty-four hours.
Having zero anxiety at all would definitely be optimal, of course. If you’re somehow a person who experiences absolutely no anxiety whatsoever, count yourself as someone who’s very lucky. With minimal levels of anxiety, you can thankfully function overall. There are limited to no physical symptoms at this stage. At this level, you may not even notice the anxiety period. It’s such a small part of your day. This of course, would be very ideal.
#2. Mild Anxiety
The next step up is mild anxiety. Also known as sub-clinical. If you feel a mild case of anxiety, you may be more anxious over the course of your day, than you would be with limited. Do you find yourself feeling anxious in social situations? Are you the kind of person who shyly stands in the corner at a party? Don’t feel badly if you find difficulty in opening up to others. Especially in these kinds of moments. If anything, you can be proud of yourself that you got out there in the first place.
At the mild level, you may feel some form of muscle tension or stomach ache. These sensations are considered to be relatively minor. This level of anxiety can be experienced from childhood and into adulthood. If you’re someone with anxiety, the mild level is considered to be at a “manageable” scale. You’re likely still able to get most things done on your daily To-Do list.
#3. Moderate Anxiety
Do you find that your sleep schedule is often pretty inconsistent? If your anxiety is at this third level, it may affect your sleep schedule to a relatively noticeable, but still functional degree. Are you struggling with a particular loss of appetite? Having moderate anxiety can make you less hungry throughout the day. If you’re someone who experiences moderate anxiety, you may feel far more fatigued. Getting less hours of sleep during the night and eating less food during the day, are more likely outcomes.
Due to these factors, you may also experience a more regulated panicky state of being. Plus increased aggressive headaches that frequent more than what’s considered as being normal. These feelings will definitively be far more persistent throughout your day. Moderate anxiety may make you feel on edge. Your stress levels may at times feel entirely out of your control. You may even feel moderate anxiety throughout the majority of your week. Thankfully not for seven days straight in a row though. So that’s at least something.
#4. Severe Anxiety
Where the moderate level isn’t necessarily a disruptive daily force, severe anxiety is a consistent feeling throughout. The physical symptoms are much more aggressive at this fourth level. You may feel oftentimes out of breath, for instance. Do you often experience a constant tightness in your chest? Does your stomach have a really tough time digesting food? Severe anxiety can make it really difficult to enjoy that precious time on your lunch hour. Even if the food you’re eating is a particularly favourite meal of yours.
If you suffer from severe anxiety, you may be more likely to remain in isolation. The severity of this level has also been proven to be connected to major depression as well. At this level, your anxiety may make you want to avoid friends and even family. Does your brain feel like one-to-many computer tabs are open? That’s what having severe anxiety can unfortunately feel like. You can still technically function, but almost barely.
#5. Debilitating Anxiety
The fifth and final level at the very top of the pyramid, is debilitating anxiety. This is the worst and most aggressive form of anxiety that you can possibly experience. Do you deal with near-constant panic attacks? Are you unable to function throughout your entire day? Debilitating anxiety is so intense that you’ll oftentimes have an heightened heart-rate. You’re probably irritated quite easily. Are you so incapacitated by your stress, that it’s a real struggle to even leave your home?
Debilitating anxiety is so awful that you may not feel comfortable ever leaving your safe space. You may second-guess several of your daily or weekly choices. Are you so full of dread and constantly think of the worst-case scenario? Is that the majority of where your brain goes? This last level can cause sweating, muscle twitching, tremors, fatigue and insomnia. Just to name a handful of very tough symptoms. If any part of this sounds familiar, you may feel an extreme sense of dread about doing even the most simple of everyday tasks.
Debilitating anxiety may be so extreme, that it can cause you to get absolutely nothing done all day. You may feel like nothing will ever be okay again. It’s easy to fall into these kinds of negative and unruly thinking patterns. You may feel like you’re all alone, but you’re not. Believe it or not, but there are people out there who do care about you, and your wellbeing. Even when your brain tells you the exact opposite to be true.
There you have it! The 5 Stages of Anxiety. Minimal, mild, moderate, severe & debilitating. Which level do you believe your anxiety is at? Is it at a specific spot with one of these five levels? Or is it somewhere more in the middle, between two different points?
Do you feel like your anxiety is both mild and moderate at the exact same time? Or is it more severe than that, but with slight touches of debilitation? But not the whole thing mentioned?
Have you ever experienced one of your friends or family members with any of these symptoms? Unfortunately, anxiety isn’t something that can easily just “go away”. There are more people with anxiety than you might realize. More people share your experiences than you can probably imagine.
Some people are just better at hiding it than others. Anxiety is one of the toughest issues many people will deal with on a daily basis. I know it’s hard. Believe me. If you struggle with anxiety in any form, talking about it with someone you deeply trust, is a great first step.
Merriam Webster – Anxiety https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/anxiety
Anxiety Scale by SelfLoveRainbow (March 5th, 2022) https://www.instagram.com/p/Cau8hYJvZK8/?utm_medium=copy_link
Different Levels of Anxiety – The Recover Village, Megan Hull, Medically Reviewed by Dr. Sarah Dash, PHD (April 1st, 2022) https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/mental-health/anxiety/related/levels-of-anxiety/
Generalized Anxiety Disorder – The Recovery Village, Thomas Christians, Medically Reviewed by Krissy Herron, LCDC (April 16th, 2022) https://www.therecoveryvillage.com/mental-health/generalized-anxiety-disorder/
How to Recognize and Treat Debilitating Anxiety-Beth Sissons, Medically Reviewed Lori Lorenz, PsyD (July 29th, 2021) https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/debilitating-anxiety#symptoms