Your question: Why is my anxiety getting worse?

My reply:

Hi, I hope this message finds you well. My name is Cesar Guedez, a psychologist trained in cognitive behavioral therapy. 

Anxiety is a universal experience that, at certain levels, is necessary for our survival. It is thanks to anxiety that you feel the urge to flee when faced with a dangerous situation.

However, anxiety becomes a problem when it is too recurrent and intense. Your anxiety can worsen for many reasons, and all of them are related to your anxious thoughts that evoke the characteristic and annoying symptoms of anxiety.

Automatic thoughts (1) are those that come on suddenly, and almost always bring a sense of intense fear or worry. These are uncontrollable, and can trigger your anxiety from one moment to the next.

It is possible that your anxiety is being aggravated because you have many accumulated pressures in your life, such as work, studies, interpersonal relationships and money, and also because your automatic thoughts act with more intensity than before.

Either way, there are ways to cope with this problem and decrease your anxiety symptoms gradually. You have the ability to do this, and by complementing the strategies outlined here with professional help, you will notice an improvement in your quality of life and a decrease in your anxiety.

Why does your anxiety get worse?

There are several reasons why your anxiety could be getting worse, to identify them, it is important that you do some self-observation of your life. What changes have you experienced recently that could make you feel more stressed or nervous?

Financial problems

Financial problems are one of the main universal causes of anxiety. You may have recently experienced debts or expenses that make you feel worried about your finances, considering that your current salary does not meet your needs.

Health problems

If you have recently become ill or received a medical diagnosis, your anxiety may be heightened due to health concerns. Feeling anxious about your health is common, as it generates a lot of alarming and worrying thoughts.

Work or academic stress

Work and studies naturally generate anxiety, however, this becomes a problem when that anxiety is too intense and recurrent, and begins to generate problems in other areas of your life. For example, if you have received new work assignments or if you are finishing an academic semester, it is likely that your anxiety will increase to the point of causing problems eating and sleeping, as well as social isolation.

Adaptation to change

Periods of adaptation are times of adjustment in daily life to one or more life circumstances that have changed. Some of the most common adjustment periods are: a move, a layoff, starting a new job, and the end of a relationship. It is possible that your anxiety is becoming more intense and recurrent if you have experienced any of these situations recently.

Traumatic experience

Experiences of trauma and violence go hand in hand with impaired mental health. If you have recently experienced a traumatic event, such as an assault or robbery, physical, psychological or sexual abuse, or a traffic accident, you are likely to feel much more anxious.

What can you do to control your anxiety?

There are several techniques you can implement to reduce your anxiety.

Breathing and relaxation

Inhale through your nose for three seconds, exhale through your mouth for another three seconds. This while you close your eyes and feel how slowly the tension in your body decreases. You can apply this exercise for at least 10 minutes a day at different times, and just after experiencing an episode of anxiety.

Fix your sleep schedule

This can be difficult to do, as many people with anxiety develop sleep problems that are difficult to change. However, you should aim to establish specific sleep schedules in order to decrease your overall anxiety. This can be done with the help of a professional such as a psychologist or a sleep doctor who can help you establish routines for better sleep.


Physical activity improves quality of life. Whether in a gym, practicing a sport or from the comfort of your home, exercising will be beneficial to improve your physical and emotional condition, because when you exercise you release endorphins related to the feeling of happiness and fulfillment.

Guided Imagery

In this exercise, in addition to inhaling and exhaling slowly, you will close your eyes, and visualize a scenario that generates calm and happiness, and distracts you from the negative thoughts that come with anxiety. It can be a beach, a mountainous landscape or even a pleasant memory.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1

This technique consists of using your senses to dissuade emotional discomfort at a given moment. It is useful when you experience a lot of physical agitation or when you feel you have a lot of unpleasant thoughts, and you find it difficult to control your emotions. Wherever you are, you will focus on identifying 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. This will allow you to focus your attention on specific things during the period of anxiety, and slowly, the feeling of intense worry will diminish.

Connect with yourself

Anxiety can greatly affect your relationship with yourself and your self-esteem. Therefore, moments of solitude doing activities that you enjoy are very effective in reducing anxiety symptoms. Whether it is writing, going to museums or movie theaters, walking around monuments in your city, dedicating moments of the week to a personal activity that you enjoy doing, will bring you benefits.

In my experience…

Feeling your anxiety getting worse can cause a lot of helplessness and hopelessness. However, I am telling you that everything you are feeling right now has a solution. Relieving anxiety is uphill work, but it is possible with enough determination and professional help. Even if you feel hopeless right now there are possibilities for improvement for you. Anxiety does not have to determine your life, and it is in your power to start making changes, seeking help when you feel it is necessary.

I believe you have the ability to improve and heal these feelings of discomfort you are experiencing now. The fact that you are seeking professional help through this medium proves it to me, and I applaud you for making that decision and being on track to improve your mental health and overall, your physical health.

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