Anxiety disorders are the most pervasive mental disorders in the U.S., affecting over 40 million adults age 18 or older, or 18.1% of the population. Unfortunately, only about 37% of those suffering receive treatment, probably due to the stigma still surrounding mental illness. Until recently, scientists thought that a hyperactive amygdala – the brain’s emotional processing center – caused anxiety.
However, new studies have come out showing that anxiety is caused by complex interactions between different brain regions and that by being able to overpower the emotional brain by using cognitive rationality, anxiety will be reduced.
Cognitive behavioral therapy, medication, or a combination of both can usually help reduce anxiety symptoms. Also, eating healthy, exercise, getting enough sunlight and sleep, reducing stress, and other lifestyle factors can help symptoms of anxiety.
However, people with anxiety will tell you that it isn’t an easy disorder to manage by any means, and it usually requires lifelong treatment to keep symptoms under control. Below, you’ll find first-hand experiences from different people who have suffered from anxiety their whole lives.
We hope you find comfort in their stories and that they will serve as a reminder that you are not alone.
25 People Describe Their First Experience With Anxiety
1 – Malia A.
I could date this all the way back to grade school. Not wanting to go to Wednesday night church because I was so shy and afraid I would get asked to be called on or someone would just want to talk to me. I would feel physically sick because if it. #My1stExperienceWithAnxiety
— Malia Abad (@_carbsandcoffee) June 25, 2019
2 – Rebecca
#My1stExperienceWithAnxiety Interesting. It’s hard to pinpoint because mine is clinical. I think, it started in grade school when waking up in the morning would give me such a terrible stomachache I would beg my mom not to go. Everyday for weeks on end I would want to stay in bed.
— Rebecca (@rherm93) July 1, 2019
3 – Tristitia
#My1stExperienceWithAnxiety I cannot remember. I remember my first panic attack. I dissociated and didn’t know what was real anymore, and my hands were in pain. Now when I’m about to have a panic attack, my hands start to hurt, so I know when to leave the situation. pic.twitter.com/ByXlhxZrW5
— Tristitia (@TaemintFever) June 24, 2019
4 – Nico
#My1stExperienceWithAnxiety I can’t remember too well because truthfully, I’ve always had it. But my first full blown panic attack was at 17. Body and brain felt like static, felt like I was breathing thru a straw, dizzy, nauseous, pacing into late hours… sh*t is NOT sweet.
— nico. (@MusePariah) June 28, 2019
I was in fourth period physics. Suddenly I couldn’t breath or talk or hear. I thought I was dying but couldn’t communicate how I felt. It wasnt until someone across from me realized something was wrong & took me to the nurse.Panic Attacks ? #My1stExperienceWithAnxiety.
— nohemi (@nohemi_cats) June 24, 2019
I don’t really know my first experience with anxiety but I think it was when I was super young, like 5. Was sitting on my moms bed and started crying because she was going to die one day. I wouldn’t wish anxiety upon anyone. #My1stExperienceWithAnxiety
— Jennifer (@RoseJenniferben) June 24, 2019
7 – Brittney
#My1stExperienceWithAnxiety I remember walking into my schools cafeteria and suddenly I felt like all eyes were on me and I felt myself starting to panic and the tears started to well up as I kept walking. I was 12 at the time and to this day this feeling hasn’t gone away.
— b r i t t n e y (@brittneygamezz) June 23, 2019
8 – Bella
I was about 8 years and I was engulfed with an uncontrollable feeling. A feeling where my body was taken over by my mind and I couldn’t escape the horror of a feeling. The panic attacks & the forced feeling of throwing up. I’ll never forget #My1stExperienceWithAnxiety
— Bella (@BellaGMendoza) June 24, 2019
9 – Lindsay F
I was in 1st grade& missed a day of school. The next day I was afraid to raise my hand because I kept thinking all the rules had changed. It was terrifying. I’m 26 now diagnosed w/ Generalized Anxiety Disorder at age 24, just don’t give up. #My1stExperienceWithAnxiety
— Lindsay Fogarty (@Wethepeoplehope) June 24, 2019
10 -Brittany L.
#My1stExperienceWithAnxiety when i was in kindergarten. I was walking down the hall and looking at my feet, then i started thinking too much about walking, and how walking happens, i started to feel disconnected from my legs and then started tripping over my own feet.
— Brittany Furlan Lee (@BrittanyFurlan) June 23, 2019
11 – Chloe
Anxiety has followed me my entire life, but a moment I remember was at my brother’s high school graduation. I was happy and taking pictures, and then out of nowhere I started feeling dizzy and totally disassociated from what was happening. #My1stExperienceWithAnxiety
— Chloë (@Toboldlychlo) June 23, 2019
12 – Maddie
#My1stExperienceWithAnxiety was when I was in 3rd grade music class. I was wearing a ring on my finger and suddenly got very nervous about performing what we’d learned. I fidgeted with the ring so bad it cut off my circulation. Nearly lost the finger.
— Magpie of Madness (@Maddie_Magpie) June 24, 2019
13 – Arya
I don’t remember #My1stExperienceWithAnxiety at all. What I do remember is regularly being on meds for the first time, and thinking “wow…is this what it’s like. not thinking everything you do is the wrong thing?”
— Arya Hodjat (@arya_kidding_me) June 24, 2019
14 – Gamerga
#My1stExperienceWithAnxiety at Age 49, suddenly thinking I was having a heart attack, I could hear my pulse in my neck and ears , feeling that I couldn’t breathe, and that my skin felt like it was crawling and needed to come off. Still happens every once in a while.
— Gamergal67 (@Gamergal67) June 24, 2019
15 – Jacqueline Z.
i don’t remember #My1stExperienceWithAnxiety but i do remember when i finally told my parents that i couldn’t bring myself eat or sleep and i didn’t know exactly ~why~ that was happening. i knew it was anxiety, but i had no reason to be anxious. i was on vacation.
— jacqueline zegler (@jacquelinezegs) June 24, 2019
16 – Jim
#My1stExperienceWithAnxiety Left work mid day in gasping panic bc my wife (who had my infant son) didn’t answer the phone. Didn’t tell boss. Sped through red lights with tunnel vision thinking I had to save them. They were fine. I was a school teacher.
— Dr. Jim (@SinCityShrink) June 24, 2019
17 – Bekah K.
#My1stExperienceWithAnxiety I’ve had anxiety since 6th grade and can’t really pin down an exact moment it started. But my first anxiety attack was in 10th grade when a boy threatened to commit suicide if I didn’t go to prom with him. I’ve had many many since then
— Bekah Kashorek (@Bekah_Kashorek) June 24, 2019
18 – McSpocky
#My1stExperienceWithAnxiety I was a very young child when I started experiencing anxiety as well, anxiety severe enough that it affected me throughout my entire life. There are still times that I went through as a child I’m unable to talk about to this day.
— McSpocky™ ?? (@mcspocky) June 23, 2019
19 – Kaz W.
#My1stExperienceWithAnxiety was in 3rd grade. I began to panic as I walked to the school bus & started to cry & hyperventilate on the bus. The principal eventually called my Mom to come get me. It would be nearly 2 decades later before I recognized that as my 1st panic attack.
— Kaz Weida (@kazweida) June 23, 2019
20 – Alana
I don’t remember #My1stExperienceWithAnxiety but I do remember my first panic attack.
It was about 4 years ago and I considered calling 911 because I felt like I was dying.
Panic attacks are no joke.
— Alana (@apatheticalien7) June 23, 2019
21 – Jordan D.
i don’t remember exactly #My1stExperienceWithAnxiety since i’ve always had it, but i do remember the first time it became physically debilitating. i was driving 2 hours to the second week of my hairspray show, i couldn’t breathe or see straight for 4 hours. i thought i was dying.
— jordan doww (@JordanDoww) June 23, 2019
22 – Joolz
I guess I’ll participate bc why not lol #My1stExperienceWithAnxiety I missed months of school during middle school and just told everyone i was sick bc I didn’t know what was happening. I experienced dissociation/dreamlike feelings and constant dizziness
— j00lz. ? (@thisdickson) June 23, 2019
23 – Nadir
I was around 7 yrs old. My babysitter (who grew up living on Bob Jones campus) told me that unless I got forgiveness for my sins from Jesus, I would burn in hell throughout all eternity. I stayed up all night crying and begging God not to burn me up. #My1stExperienceWithAnxiety
— Nadir (@WaxWidow) June 23, 2019
24 – Allis
#My1stExperienceWithAnxiety was when I was 9, playing WWE with my brothers on our trampoline and they did something that made me upset, so I locked myself in a car and tried to catch my breath for like 30 minutes while they tried to get me. My parents weren’t home at the time
— Whorton Hears a Who ass bitch (@MC_Allis) June 25, 2019
25 – Elle
#My1stExperienceWithAnxiety I honestly can’t pin it down to one moment. Growing up was a constant state of anxiety. Don’t say the wrong thing or mom will get angry. But it was never clear what “wrong” was. She could snap at anything. pic.twitter.com/xaxWEEQA2S
— Elle Summers (@ElleBSummers) June 23, 2019