Your question: Why is my anxiety out of control?

My reply:

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

Anxiety is part of life. We need anxiety to respond to a threatening situation or person. For example, anxiety is what makes you run away from a life-threatening situation and is what gives you the strength to study for a difficult exam.

The problem is that from time to time anxiety can get out of control. You may feel like your anxiety is out of control or “through the roof” because it has taken over your life, and you feel anxious constantly, most days for most of the day.

This is called generalized anxiety (1), an intense and persistent worry about various aspects of life. This type of anxiety can affect your quality of life, causing problems at work, school, in your personal relationships and, of course, with your self-esteem.

Generalized anxiety causes various annoying physical and emotional symptoms, but the most constant one is an intense worry or fear that appears abruptly. This problem has to last for more than 6 months and can only be diagnosed by a mental health professional.

Although it is frustrating and torturous to feel this way, you are not alone. Many people have generalized anxiety, according to statistics (2) 5.7% of American adults deal with this form of intense and persistent anxiety.

More importantly, it is treatable and manageable. Anxiety does not have to define your life, as you have the power and ability to cope with your daily worries by seeking help when you feel your problems have gotten out of control.

First, before explaining some techniques to improve your situation, it is necessary to know the origin of your uncontrolled anxiety.

Why is your anxiety out of control?

Anxiety appears when your brain detects a potentially threatening stimulus. This triggers symptoms in your body and mind, such as tachycardia, sweating, trembling, fatigue, dizziness, body aches, fear, sadness and emotional out-of-control.

The problem is that anxiety is not rational, and sometimes it can appear without there being anything truly threatening or dangerous. This happens because anxious thoughts are not always logical, and can make you feel, for example, a terrible and paralyzing fear when you are about to have a work meeting. Some common causes of uncontrolled anxiety are:

Financial problems

Debts and unsatisfactory salaries are one of the most frequent causes of anxiety in adult life. The worry that the money is not enough to cover your debts and that the cost of living is constantly increasing, is enough reason to generate intense and uncontrolled anxiety.


Work is stressful because it involves meeting demands, and our income depends on it to meet our needs. Work can cause you anxiety when there are sudden changes, when you are assigned new tasks or when you have too many responsibilities to manage.


Education can generate anxiety at any stage or level of education. The pressure for students to pass their exams and balance their time properly to meet all the pending assessments and at the same time, leave space for their personal life, is quite stressful.

Interpersonal relationships

Whether they are family relationships, friendships or couples, socialization causes anxiety because it often involves conflict and natural arguments between human beings. Interpersonal relationships are the cause of your anxiety when you have experienced many stressful encounters, which make you feel frustrated, annoyed, frightened or sad, with important people in your life.

Identity and self-esteem

Anxiety is also related to your perception of yourself and your identity. You may experience anxiety because there are things you don’t like about your body or personality or because you feel that you are generally dissatisfied with your life in more ways than one.

How to control your anxiety?

There are different strategies that you can apply on your own to control anxiety. You must remember that anxiety will never completely leave your life, since in small doses it is necessary. Learning to “control” anxiety refers to diminishing its intensity and preventing it from damaging your quality of life.

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 uncontrolled anxiety or through the roof is common. Controlling anxiety is complicated but not impossible. However, there are additional aids you can turn to when you feel you can’t cope on your own. Psychologists and psychiatrists are trained to help you build the best version of yourself and improve your quality of life in the process.

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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