What Is Anxious Behavior?

Written by Jim Folk
Last updated October 24, 2022

What is anxious behavior?

What is anxious behavior?

We mention anxious and apprehensive behavior a lot in our materials, since anxiety is caused by anxious/apprehensive behavior. However, recently, we received the question, “What is anxious behavior?”

This article answers this question.

Anxiety is fear-based. Consequently, anxiety occurs when you believe:

  • Something bad is going to happen,
  • The threat is imminent, and
  • You don’t have the ability or resources to protect yourself from the threat or deal with the aftereffects of the threat.

Behavior can be defined as: how a person thinks and acts.

Therefore, whenever you THINK something bad is going to happen, the threat is imminent, and you believe you aren’t able to prevent it, that’s an example of anxious behavior.

Worry can be defined as: allowing one’s mind to dwell on potential threats and troubles.

Consequently, dwelling on threats creates anxiety. As such, worry is an example of anxious behavior.

Other behavioral examples include: fretting, being concerned, brooding, getting all worked up, becoming overwrought, apprehension, getting yourself in a tizzy, stewing about something, being nervous, disquiet, stressing, being disturbed, and being troubled about something, to name a few.

Examples of anxious behavior include:

  • Worrying about health and medical matters, such as “What if this pain in my side is caused by cancer?” Or, “What if my anxiety symptoms are actually being caused by a serious medical problem, and my doctor and test results have missed it?” Or, “What if my doctor discovers I have a serious medical problem, and I end up in the hospital?”
  • Constantly catastrophizing/imagining the worst.

Other examples of worry include:

  • “What if I never recover from anxiety disorder?”
  • “What if my partner leaves me?”
  • “What if I lose my job?”
  • “What if I get sick and die?”
  • “What if God thinks I committed the unpardonable sin?”
  • “What if I become bankrupt and lose everything?”
  • “What if I do something embarrassing, look foolish, and people reject me?”
  • “What if I end up alone for the rest of my life?”
  • “What if I’m never good enough?”
  • “What if I pass out and everyone makes fun of me?”
  • “What if I fail my class and can’t get into the career I want?”

And so on.

As you can imagine, there are a great many fears a person could worry about, all of which create anxious behavior and anxiety.

Visit the “What Causes Anxiety?” article for more information. You can also visit the “Underlying Factors of Anxiety” article for more information about the many factors that motivate overly anxious behavior.

Recovery Support members can visit the “Core fears” section in chapter 7 for many other examples of fears people worry about.

Examples of anxious actions include:

  • Calling someone many times to ensure they are safe.
  • Checking doors and locks multiple times to ensure they are locked.
  • Pacing as you worry.
  • Constantly seeking reassurance because you are worried about something.
  • Constantly talking to a family or friend about your worries hoping they will say something that alleviates your fears.
  • Dwelling on your threats so much that you become physically sick.
  • Being constantly concerned about many aspects of life.
  • Constantly calling or visiting a medical professional looking for reassurance that you are medically healthy.

And so on.

Anytime you think you could be in danger and worry about it, that creates anxious behavior, which creates anxiety (and stress, since anxious behavior stresses the body).

Recovery Support members can read many more examples of anxious behavior in the various sections in chapter 6.

Overall, anxious behavior occurs when we think and act in anxious ways. Again, worry is a good example of anxious behavior.

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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 Frequent Questions archive.

anxietycentre.com: Information, support, and therapy for anxiety disorder and its symptoms, including: What Is Anxious Behavior?