On many occasions you will have felt fear or even panic in the face of some future situation. Generally, anticipating some future events, some dangers, can be good since it helps to plan the actions and reactions that we will have when it really happens. However, that anticipation becomes a pathology when the thoughts exceed the limits of reality causing a picture of anxiety. Anticipatory anxiety is a feeling of fear of something before that something happens , that is, in a certain situation the mind thinks negatively in the future and anticipates threatening events. In these situations, the body is activated and acts before this danger occurs, a danger that in most cases is not real. This feeling becomes a problem when there is a difficulty in assuming that something terrible is very unlikely to happen. Those who suffer from anticipatory anxiety are generally unable to tolerate uncertainty and need to have everything around them under control.

Sometimes anticipatory anxiety appears for no apparent reason but most of the time it is motivated by something that has happened in the past. Anticipatory anxiety can appear as a result of a previous trauma for which an anxiety attack has been suffered, this causes fear of any situation that resembles that of the past. Anticipatory anxiety can also appear motivated by a phobia that prevents you from thinking positively in future situations in which you have to face it, causing a picture of anticipatory anxiety.


Anticipatory anxiety is a real problem that should not be underestimated because it presents very serious symptoms that can affect not only mental health but also physical health . The physical symptoms of ancitipatory anxiety are very similar to those of anxiety and can be so intense that sometimes people who suffer from them may think they are having a heart attack. The most common physical symptoms of anticipatory anxiety include:

    • Muscle tension
    • Palpitations and / or tachycardia
    • Choking or shortness of breath
    • Trembling voice
  • Digestive problems

On the other hand, in addition to the physical symptoms, anticipatory anxiety can play with the mood of the person suffering from it , making them feel angry, confused, hopeless, irritable or sad. This, in turn, can end up affecting your ability to concentrate and make decisions, which can decrease your performance in all aspects of your life.

How to manage anticipatory anxiety

Faced with a problem such as anticipatory anxiety there are a series of guidelines and tips that can be carried out in order to reduce the effects it causes:

    1. Control emotions : it is convenient to discover the emotions that cause anxiety , and for this it is best to breathe deeply and relax. When you have some control over your emotions, you assess the situation rationally.
    1. Discover negative thoughts : it is very beneficial to try to discover what are the negative thoughts that cause this state of anxiety, for this it is best to write them down on paper. Thanks to this, the person suffering from anticipatory anxiety may find that they focus more on the things that can go wrong than on the positive aspects.
    1. Decompose the thoughts : once it is discovered which are the negative thoughts that motivate the state of anxiety, it is beneficial to take each of those thoughts and assess what would be the worst situation in which they could actually occur. At this point, the affected person will probably realize that the possible situations are not as bad as they were initially believed .
    1. Vary the focus of attention : it is necessary to change your attitude and try to change those negative thoughts for more positive thoughts. In a very difficult task but it is worth trying as it will not eliminate the problem but will help to cope better.
  1. Prepare for uncertainty : once negative thoughts have been evaluated and changed to a certain extent, it is time to prepare to live with uncertainty . It is necessary to be aware that life is a constant uncertainty and that you cannot have control over the events of the future.


Anticipatory anxiety, like anxiety, is a perfectly treatable condition. People who suffer or believe they suffer from anticipatory anxiety, the first thing they should do is put themselves in the hands of a specialist who has enough knowledge to treat it, such as a psychologist or a psychiatrist. Treatment of anticipatory anxiety is usually carried out through psychotherapy, drugs, or a combination of both. However, there are a number of guidelines that you can carry out on your own to lessen the effects of anticipatory anxiety:

    • Change your thoughts : although at first it may seem somewhat difficult, it is necessary to try to think positive and make more realistic interpretations of reality.
    • Doing physical exercise : the practice of some sport and in general, physical exercise, helps to be distracted , to relax and to release the additional adrenaline that occurs when you feel anxiety.
    • Distract yourself : it is very beneficial for the mind to find an activity that we like and that can reduce anxiety . It is convenient to carry out an activity that occupies the mind such as reading a book, going out with friends, going to the movies, etc.
  • Learn relaxation techniques : there are relaxation techniques with which you can learn to calm an anxiety attack. Many of these techniques should only be done with a psychologist but there are some sports like yoga and Pilates that help control breathing, relax and see the bright side of things.

Elle Mcdonald

I am Elle Mcdonald Specializations in Psychology . Graduated in psychology from the University of Tennessee in 2000. Diploma of Advanced Studies in the Department of Personality, Evaluation and psychological treatments with excellent results.

First Level of Master in Clinical Psychology at the Center for Behavioral Therapists (recognized with a scientific-professional nature by the College of Psychologists)

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