What is Anticipatory Anxiety

by Sharon Hopkins

Considering today's fast paced and hectic lifestyle, there has been an increase in the number of people suffering from various anxiety disorders. These anxiety disorders typically stem from trauma and even unrelenting stress.

Anticipatory anxiety disorder is a medical condition wherein the individual is known to experience extreme anxiety either in anticipation or immediately prior to a particular event which may have caused them to get anxious in the past as well. In most cases, it has also been observed that anticipatory anxiety disorder is known to be a precursor to a panic attack. In such cases, medical experts agree, that experiencing anticipatory anxiety prior to a panic attack is actually a blessing in disguise. This is because, in due course of time, the individual learns to recognize the signs and symptoms of an oncoming panic attack and thereby develop strategies to combat it.


Anticipatory anxiety treatment involves developing control over your thoughts of fear and anticipation towards a future event which can be achieved on your own through various relaxation techniques. Some of these relaxation techniques are:

  • Meditation
  • Guided Imagery
  • Journaling
  • Deep breathing
  • Progressive muscle relaxation

In some cases, the treatment for anticipatory anxiety could also include getting professional help from a mental health expert. Some of the treatments suggested by these mental health experts to combat stress and the consequent anxiety are:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy which helps the individual to make a conscious effort towards identifying and then changing their anxiety causing thoughts.
  • Medications in the form of antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs that are known to provide relief from some of the symptoms of panic and anxiety.

Anticipatory Anxiety in Children

The mind of a child and his emotions are constantly in a state of change as they grow and develop. Most children at an early age have an inherent fear of strangers, while some have a fear of loud noises and so on. Anticipatory anxiety disorder develops in children when their fears persist and results in the child being severely distressed. Consequently the anxiety may also adversely affect the overall development of the child, his education and also the harmony in the family.

Anticipatory anxiety cure in both adults and children is not immediate and is an ongoing process wherein the individual has to make a conscious effort to understand that they cannot predict future events and thereby gradually gain control over the mechanisms that result in stress and anxiety.


  1. http://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/about-anxiety/anxiety-disorders/other-conditions/anticipatory-anxiety/

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