All of us at anxietycentre.com have experienced debilitating anxiety. But we’ve also overcome it and returned to normal and lasting health. Because we know the hardship anxiety unwellness can cause, we are committed to helping others, with over 27 years of service.” - Jim Folk, President, anxietycentre.com

Sudden Urge To Escape Or Run Away Anxiety Symptoms

sudden urge to escape or run away anxiety symptoms

A sudden urge to escape or run away anxiety symptom description:

This sudden urge to escape or run away feeling can come and go rarely, occur frequently, or persist indefinitely. For example, you may feel a sudden urge to escape and run away once and a while and not that often, feel it off and on, or feel it all the time.

This sudden urge to escape or run away feeling may precede, accompany, or follow an escalation of other anxiety sensations and symptoms, or occur by itself.

This sudden urge to escape or run away feeling can precede, accompany, or follow an episode of nervousness, anxiety, fear, and elevated stress, or occur ‘out of the blue’ and for no apparent reason.

This sudden urge to escape or run away feeling can range in intensity from slight, to moderate, to severe. It can also come in waves, where it’s strong one moment and eases off the next.

This sudden urge to escape or run away feeling can change from day to day, and/or from moment to moment.

All of the above combinations and variations are common.

This sudden urge to escape or run away feeling often seems more disconcerting when undistracted, when trying to rest, when going to sleep, or when just waking up.

Why does anxiety cause a sudden urge to escape or run away?

Behaving in an apprehensive manner (worried, fretful, fearful, nervous) causes the body to activate the stress response, which causes the body to secrete stress hormones into the bloodstream where they travel to targeted spots in the body to bring about specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that enhance the body’s ability to deal with a threat—to either fight with or flee from it—which is the reason this response is often referred to as the fight or flight response or the emergency response.

Part of the emergency response changes include creating a sense of urgency to escape danger. Because the emergency response is designed to protect us, our first reaction when in danger is to escape the danger as fast as we can…hence the sudden urge to escape or run away. And, the stronger the sense of danger, the stronger the urge to escape or run away.

In other words, the higher the degree of stress response, the stronger the urge to escape or run away. Therefore, typically, high degree stress responses cause this sudden urge to escape.

High degree stress responses occur for two main reasons:
1. Triggered by a high degree fear (overly apprehensive behavior).
2. Hyperstimulation-triggered involuntary stress response.

For more in-depth information about the stress response’s effects and hyperstimulation, Recovery Support members can read the section, “Hyperstimulation And Its Effects” in Chapter 14.

How to get rid of the sudden urge to escape or run away anxiety symptom?

When the sudden urge to escape or run away feeling is caused by overly apprehensive behavior and the accompanying stress response changes, calming yourself down will bring an end to the stress response and its changes. As your body recovers from the active stress response, this sudden urge to escape or run away feeling should subside. Keep in mind that it can take up to 20 minutes or more for the body to recover from a major stress response. But this is normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

When this sudden urge to escape or run away feeling is caused by an involuntary triggered stress response due to hyperstimulation, you can still calm yourself down and wait for the feeling to pass. As above, it can take up to 20 minutes or more for the body to recover from a major stress response. But again, this is normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern.

When you contain your overly apprehensive behavior, and when you eliminate your body’s hyperstimulated state, these sudden urge to escape or run away feelings disappear. Therefore, this anxiety feeling needn’t be a cause for concern. It’s just a normal part of what happens when we behave overly apprehensively and/or when the body is overly stressed.

Dealing with your anxiety issues and faithfully practicing the physiological recovery strategies we mention in Chapter 4 (in the Recovery Support area) will eliminate these types of feelings.

In the meantime, however, passively accepting this feeling and learning to “under react” to it can help break the stress response/hyperstimulation cycle.

By choosing to “under react” to this feeling, you stop triggering additional stress responses and adding fuel to the hyperstimulation fire, which can help diminish these types of feelings in time. Choosing to under react also helps you learn how to contain your reactions rather than letting them trigger more stress responses. Containment is an important strategy for long-term success over problematic anxiety.

Recovery Support members can read more about containment in Chapter 6.

If you are having difficulty containing your worry, you may want to connect with one of our anxiety disorder therapists, coaches, or counselors. Working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to overcome what seems like unmanageable worry.

For a more detailed explanation about anxiety symptoms, why symptoms can persist long after the stress response has ended, common barriers to recovery and symptom elimination, and more recovery strategies and tips, we have many chapters that address this information in the Recovery Support area of our website.


The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder coach, counselor, or therapist is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior - a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety's underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.


For more information about our Anxiety Counseling option; our Available Anxiety Therapists; to Book An Appointment with one of our anxiety therapists; common Anxiety Signs and Symptoms; common Anxiety Attack Symptoms; the symptoms of panic attack disorder; anxiety Recovery Support area; information about Anxiety; and our Anxiety 101 section; or click on the appropriate link or graphic below:

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Authors: Jim Folk, Marilyn Folk, BScN. Last updated June 27, 2017.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and coaching/counseling/therapy for problematic anxiety and its sensations and symptoms, including the anxiety symptom sudden urge to escape or run away.