Anxiety Symptoms But Not Feeling Stressed

Written by Jim Folk
Medically reviewed by Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Last updated March 27, 2021

anxiety symptoms but don't feel stressed

Having Anxiety Symptoms But I Don't Feel Stressed?

Complete Question

If anxiety symptoms are symptoms of stress, why do I have symptoms when I don’t feel stressed?

Answer

It’s common for anxious personalities to have symptoms when they don’t feel stressed. Here are five reasons why:

1. Behaving apprehensively stresses the body.

Apprehensive behavior, such as worrying, fretting, and imagining the worst activates the stress response.

The stress response causes many body-wide changes that give us an emergency boost of energy to deal with a threat—to either fight or flee.

Because of the many changes, stress responses stress the body. The more anxious you are, the more stressed the body becomes.

A body that becomes stressed can exhibit symptoms of stress.

With this in mind, anxiety symptoms are symptoms of stress. They are called anxiety symptoms because apprehensive behavior is the source of the stress that produces symptoms.

2. Overly apprehensive behavior can overly stress the body, which can cause symptoms of stress to persist.

The body can recover relatively quickly once a stress response has ended.

However, when stress responses occur too frequently, such as from overly apprehensive behavior, the body can’t complete recovery.

Incomplete recovery can leave the body in a state of semi stress response readiness.

We call this state “stress-response hyperstimulation” since stress hormones are stimulants.

A body that becomes hyperstimulated can exhibit symptoms of a stress response even though a stress response hasn’t been activated.

Hyperstimulation is a common cause of anxiety symptoms that occur even though you don’t feel stressed.

3. As long as the body is overly stressed (hyperstimulated), it can exhibit symptoms of any type, number, duration, intensity, and frequency, and at any time.

This is why you could be days and even weeks after a major stressor and still experience the effects of stress, such as symptoms.

This is also why symptoms of stress can come and go even though you don’t feel stressed in that moment.

As long as the body is overly stressed, even to a slight degree, the body can exhibit symptoms.

4. The level of stress you feel can seem "normal" even though it is elevated.

Anxious people live anxious, and therefore, stressed lives.

As such, the elevated level of stress they feel can seem “normal” even though it’s elevated.

This seemingly “normal” level of stress is a common reason why anxious people can have symptoms even though they don't “feel” stressed.

As long as the body is overly stressed, it can present symptoms of stress, including symptoms that resemble anxiety symptoms.

5. Many anxious people aren’t aware of their anxious behavior and the stress it causes.

Behaving anxiously for a long time can make the behavior seem “normal.”

Again, as long as the body is overly stressed, even to a slight degree, it can exhibit symptoms.  

If your body is experiencing symptoms of stress, your body is overly stressed even though you might think your behavior and stress are “normal.” 

Experiencing symptoms of stress means your body is stressed. Period!  

Reducing the body’s overall level of stress will eliminate symptoms of stress.

As you most likely already know from our materials, eliminating hyperstimulation is a process that can take a very long time.

In the meantime, expect symptoms to linger until your body has fully recovered from hyperstimulation.

For more reasons, Recovery Support members can read the “Symptoms Yet Not Stressed” answer in Chapter 10 (the Frequently Asked Questions section) in the Recovery Support area.

Also, for more information, Recovery Support members can read the “Understanding the Disconnect Between Stress and Anxiety” section in Chapter 6.

The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist, coach, or counselor is the most effective way to address anxiety and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed – which we call the underlying factors of anxiety – a struggle with anxiety unwellness can return again and again. Dealing with the underlying factors of anxiety is the best way to address problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources

Return to our Anxiety Frequently Asked Questions page.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including an answer to the question: why you can have anxiety symptoms but not feel stressed.