Your question: Why do I keep getting scared?

My reply:

Hi, I hope this message finds you well. My name is Cesar Guedez, a psychologist trained in cognitive behavioral therapy. Throughout this article, I will explain why fear can be a persistent sensation in some people, generating the feeling of being constantly terrified, exploring the etiology of fear as a natural human emotion and the strategies that can be applied to reduce its intensity and frequency.

Everybody gets scared in life. Fear is a natural emotion that you have needed to survive since prehistoric times. Fear is nothing but a natural response to a threatening stimulus. Your brain perceives that something or someone may cause you harm and triggers sensations in your body that generate the so-called fight or flight response.

Although fear is normal and part of life, it can be a problem when it is persistent. There are people who are easily frightened, who are constantly anxious or nervous about even the smallest things, and who generally continue to feel afraid even though there is no danger present.

It is necessary to tell you that this is not something that is wrong with you. In my experience as a psychologist I have seen many people who get self-conscious and feel bad about themselves because they cannot control their emotions. Feeling fear, sadness and anger constantly is an unpleasant experience, but it does not imply something wrong with you as a person. It is an emotional situation that requires attention and with the proper time and strategies, you can improve and feel better about yourself, decreasing the frequency of your fear.

Why do you experience fear?

The amygdala is an area of the brain responsible for emotional responses to stimuli. When you are watching the most tense scene of a horror movie or when you are walking home at night through a dark alley, the amygdala awakens in your body a series of physical and emotional reactions that you call: fear (1).

Fear is just one of the emotions that the amygdala regulates. This organ is in charge of everything you experience when you feel fear. After perceiving what it considers threatening or terrifying, the amygdala calls upon another area of your brain for help: the hippocampus. The job of your hippocampus is to interpret this fear, helping to put it into context.

Thus, if the hippocampus considers the stimulus in question to be dangerous, you will act on its response. For some people the response is to flee, for others it is to confront the threat, and for others the feeling is paralysis. This is normal and occurs whenever you experience fear. However, it indicates a problem when the sensation of fear is constant and excessive.

How does it feel to be scared all the time?

When you say that you “keep getting scared” you probably mean that the feeling of fear is common and persistent for you, almost daily. This means that there is an overstimulation of the emotion of fear, which generally causes bothersome symptoms such as the following.

  • Fear of dying or being hurt
  • Worry that something bad is going to happen.
  • Getting startled about even the smallest things
  • Constant irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Physical symptoms such as tachycardia and muscle tension that appear for no apparent reason
  • Stressful thoughts about catastrophic events
  • Emotional sensitivity, feeling a sudden urge to cry

Why are you scared all the time?

Feeling scared all the time is related to several aspects. It is important to identify the origin of your persistent feeling of fear as this will determine what strategies are best for you. Some causes are:

Hormonal changes

Alterations in hormonal processes occur regardless of gender. Your body goes through specific hormonal cycles that can be altered by natural causes. In the case of women, the menstrual period tends to generate emotional sensitivity. Generally, hormonal processes resume their normal course after a short period of time, but if you feel that your emotions are not regulated at the end of these cycles, it is advisable to see an endocrinologist.

Lack of sleep

Sleep is essential for your brain rest and emotional regulation. When you experience insomnia, you are likely to feel sadder, more fearful and irritable than usual, since your brain activity is more accelerated and reactive, manifesting itself in situations that otherwise would not generate that emotion.

Adaptation period

If you have recently experienced severe changes, this is most likely the cause of your sudden fear and sadness. People experienced changes that disrupt their lives and demand a period of adaptation: a breakup, a move, a new job. This is normal, and each person at his or her own pace resumes their usual emotions once he or she has adapted to the changes.


Anxiety is associated with a complex picture of psychological and emotional symptoms. It is characterized mainly by unpleasant emotions that appear for no apparent reason, and that have their origin in automatic and dysfunctional thoughts. A person with anxiety can be calm in a period of rest, and then imagine a catastrophic scenario about his family that puts him in a state of fear and deep sadness, although that scenario is unrealistic or directly false.

How can you stop feeling scared?

It is always advisable to see a mental health professional to help you find the best strategies for your case, since each experience of fear and anxiety is lived and controlled in a unique way. However, these are common strategies that you can implement in your daily life to reduce the feeling of being scared all the time.

Relaxation and breathing techniques

Relaxation techniques are implemented in psychological therapy to relieve excessive unpleasant emotions such as fear, anger and recurrent sadness. Progressive muscle relaxation is one technique that can help reduce stress. It is done by tensing the muscles while practicing slow breathing, and releasing the tension in the muscles as you exhale. Go through one set of muscles at a time so that each muscle group gets tensed and then relaxed a few times.

One study found (3) that 20 minutes of progressive muscle relaxation on Monday through Friday for 6 months led to significant reductions in cortisol, an indicator of stress. So progressive muscle relaxation may be an effective way to decrease stress.

Keeping an emotional diary

In a diary, it is useful to write down the unpleasant emotions that you experience on a daily basis. Here you write down what the feeling of being constantly afraid is like for you, as well as the negative thoughts and physical symptoms you experience during fear. Writing allows you to observe and materialize your fears, allowing you to identify and accept them as a natural part of life, channeling your energy into controlling them so that they do not negatively affect your lives.

Releasing emotional tensions

Releasing emotions is a complex process. First, it is necessary to identify them and be clear about their origin. For this, the technique of journaling can be useful. But once you have written down and identified your fear and anxiety, you must now find a way to release it.

Each person finds unique strategies to do this. Some people channel their recurring fears into art or sculpture, others through fiction writing, others by taking up photography, others into crafts and others into cooking. You can focus on your interests and passions, seeking to express your deep-seated concerns and fears. If it helps, for example, to burn the symbolic drawing you made about your fear, you can do this as part of your emotional release process.

In my experience…

Fear is a constant emotion that accompanies people all their lives. It is necessary because it puts you on alert when a threat presents itself, but it can certainly be exhausting. Accepting fear as part of your life is the first step in learning to control it, as no emotion should dominate over your satisfaction and overall well-being.

Remember that you have the ability to improve your psychological state, even if during moments of anxiety or depression you feel. We can always make small changes that will pay off in the long run. The fact that you are contacting me to seek professional attention in psychological counseling is already a step, and I recognize and applaud you for that. You are already doing something and wanting to change always leads you in the right direction.

I invite you to seek professional help when you feel that even applying these suggestions, your situation does not improve. Cognitive behavioral therapy is very effective in treating different forms of anxiety and will give you more accurate tools to manage your emotions.

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