Anxiety On A Spectrum

Black woman closeup, eyes closed and afro.

When I was first explaining my experience with anxiety, I solely focused on how I felt emotionally – the racing thoughts, overanalyzing every little detail, and general nervousness or dread. However, anxiety feels like so much more than that. While those emotions are present, I forget just how many physical symptoms can accompany them.

For me, anxiety can also feel like a tensed jaw and shoulders, gut discomfort, picking at my nails or skin, and a few other traits depending on just how anxious I’m feeling. When we say we’re experiencing anxiety, it’s not a one-size-fits-all. Similar to other conditions, it exists on a spectrum, manifesting differently based on the person and the circumstances surrounding it.

For example, when I experience anxiety related to socializing, I’m sitting in a bubble of dread I can feel in my lower abdomen. There’s this deep pain in my stomach. My body is telling me the strangers I meet won’t like me and I shouldn’t even bother trying to interact. When I experience anxiety related to doctors and medical appointments, my body is physically nervous out of fear that something is going to go wrong or I’ll feel pain. Both of those experiences detail different physical symptoms despite it all being classified as anxiety.

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