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Anxiety So Bad I Can’t Work, Talk, Sleep, Eat or Function

Do you have anxiety so bad that you can’t work, talk, sleep, eat, or perform daily functions? Many people have bad anxiety including myself so bad that it makes concentrating on work nearly impossible. The only way to make it through life if you know you have anxiety is to force yourself to deal with symptoms.

I have a lot of empathy for other people that have anxiety disorders because I know how debilitating they can be. In some respects, I believe that having anxiety is more difficult to cope with than depression because anxiety can make you afraid of everything. Even with depression you can drag yourself to do things. With anxiety you may completely freeze up and be unable to get anything done – you are frozen.

There are still ways to work with your symptoms of anxiety and lead a productive life. Millions of people have anxiety problems, yet in most cases, they suck it up and continue dealing with life. You may have been through the ringer of medications (e.g. antidepressant roulette), you may have tried all the therapies in the book, and you may feel like giving up on everything, but you have nothing to gain by giving up.

What if you have anxiety so bad you can’t work?

I have been there and done that. Sometimes you may have such bad anxiety that you cannot concentrate on the job, get tasks done, and/or interact with fellow colleagues. You may be embarrassed by your condition and may not know what to do. It isn’t about knowing what to do, it’s about picking yourself back up and giving it another shot.

My guess is that you can still work if you push yourself. There are tons of people with anxiety that hold down jobs just fine. In fact, my guess is that many people with anxiety fit so well into their job that you couldn’t even point out that they were anxious on the job. Think about the fact that you have a job – this is a reason to be grateful. There are people suffering so bad that they’ve never even gotten a job.

What if your anxiety is so bad you can’t talk?

It’s common to experience anxiety so severely that you have a difficult time talking or expressing yourself verbally. Thinking may be slowed, you may be unable to come up with conversational topics, and/or feel “forced” or completely unnatural in social settings. This is because anxiety is a fear-response in the brain that causes us to “freeze up.” The only way to overcome it is by working to tame that fear response so that we aren’t scared of our own actions.

What if your anxiety is so bad you can’t sleep?

If your anxiety is so bad that you are unable to sleep at night, take it for what it’s worth. Accept this fact and do something productive while you are awake. If you are physically tired, focus your energy on relaxation techniques. Eventually you will drift off to sleep and you may get an even better night’s sleep as a result. If you are stuck and unable to fall asleep, either: do something productive OR work on your relaxation.

What if your anxiety is so bad you can’t eat?

Feeling anxious is somewhat of a stimulant-based response by the body. You may feel nervous and your appetite may actually decrease. If you aren’t able to eat, this could be viewed as a problem and you may lose an unhealthy amount of weight. Focus on eating what you can and whenever you get hungry. If you are working out on a consistent basis, this should help stimulate your appetite, especially after you burn a lot of calories.

How to deal with crippling anxiety diorders

There is no blueprint for dealing with anxiety and for people seriously affected by it, there aren’t any miracle cures. If you have read that there are some exotic herbs and/or cures out there, you’re wrong. Anyone who tells you that they’ve overcome their anxiety fully probably never had severe genetic-based anxiety in the first place.  Some have hypothesized that social anxiety could be caused by overstimulation and/or hyperarousal. Below are some things I recommend based on my personal struggle with severe anxiety for my entire existence.

1. Explore natural treatments

I wrote an article about natural cures for anxiety that you should check out. There are plenty of natural treatments available. Many of these natural treatments are very effective too. The problem is that many individuals assume that pharmaceuticals are the only solution. In some cases, pharmaceuticals are the only and/or best option, but you cannot assume that they are the best treatment if you haven’t explored natural options. For example, if you are someone who never exercises, the fact that you don’t exercise could be part of the problem.

2. Explore pharmaceutical options

If you have looked into all possible natural treatments, consider working with a psychiatrist to target the anxiety from a pharmaceutical perspective. Specifically check out various anti-anxiety medications (anxiolytics) to help ease symptoms. One medication in particular that was developed for anxiety is that of Buspar (Buspirone) – many people have had success. You may also end up trying an array of SSRI’s (selective-serotonin reuptake inhibitors), benzodiazepines, as well as psychostimulants which are a counterintuitive treatment (e.g. Adderall for anxiety) that works well for some people.

3. Face your fears

Perhaps one of the most uncomfortable and annoying options for people with anxiety disorders is to face their fears head on. I have done this for years, and although it never usually helps ease anxious symptoms, it can help us get things done. For example, if you have anxiety and go to school or are trying to get a certain degree, part of accomplishing that goal is pushing yourself to go to class every single day. It may seem like an unwinnable battle to face your fears with anxiety disorders – and that’s because it is. However, facing them means you are strong enough to continue putting up a fight.

4. Accept the pain

Anxiety is associated with feelings of pain. You have all this extra energy trapped inside your body, but you cannot express it because you are too anxious. Wouldn’t it be nice to just let loose and not really care what other people thought of you? Since you were not born this way, you need to accept the pain that you are dealing with. Life is not easy for anyone, and you were dealt a hand of anxiety. Part of being responsible is accepting that you have this condition and it may not be easy, but you can and will carry on.

5. Push your limits

We can recognize that anxiety is often caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. In most cases, it is caused by genetics – how we were born. There are certain genes that are hypothesized to play a role in contributing to us feeling the way we do – anxious 24/7. Individuals that don’t have anxiety, just don’t really understand it very well because it’s not how they are genetically wired. People without anxiety disorders don’t really understand what it’s like – at all. Keep doing things out of your comfort zone and who knows, you may even experience some slight relief in the process.

6. Never give up

In the end, life is painful for everyone. You may have anxiety so bad that you can’t do the things you’ve always dreamed of doing. This doesn’t mean that you should automatically throw in the towel and give up on your dreams and aspirations. Do what you can do to work towards some sort of goal – even if that goal is something as simple as reducing your anxiety enough so that you can function in society. There are some brilliant people out there with anxiety and everyone matters in this world, never give up on life just because of the pain.

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{ 21 comments… add one }
  • Janet Goff March 24, 2015, 1:30 pm

    I found this article very useful. Thank you. I have suffered from anxiety for the past 20 years. I am not sure why, but I have zero self confidence in my abilities in the workplace. I studied law and qualified as a lawyer (with a lot of time off work due to anxiety/panic attacks due to a feeling that I could not do the job. I was on sick leave for 4 months in total during my 30 month trainee-ship.

    All through my training I struggled with debilitating anxiety and panic attacks, but still, I pushed forward and got that piece of paper. Once I qualified, I realized that I couldn’t live this way. So I decided to be brave and change careers. I love children and decided to do a post-grad in Education. I qualified as a teacher after 1 1/2 years full time study, but to cut a long story short, there are no permanent jobs in teaching where I am from, nor where I have emigrated to, so I have had to revert to law – to earn a living.

    I work as a paralegal, however recently I am feeling I cannot even do this job. I can only seem to get temp work right now and I started a temp contract last week. I only lasted a day. Now I am about to lose the contract, as they need me there to work. Not in bed sick. I cannot stop crying and feel I will never get better. I need to work as my husband’s salary cannot fully support us both. But I am having back to back panic attacks this past week. Advice would be gratefully received, thank you.

  • Jen September 8, 2015, 3:40 pm

    Thanks for the information. My doctors have been quite useless in helping me, I’m going to see them with a list of medications from this article to see if they will prescribe anything for me. Everything else you suggest I already do, so I’m doing all I can myself; I just wish my doctors would just give me the bit of extra help I need. They insist that the only medications are antidepressants, which I’ve tried, but they don’t help at all.

    I know I do not have depression; quite the opposite, I’m positive and optimistic and I want to live a full and productive life, but my medical records probably state that I have depression, so therefore anti depressants are the only thing I’m ever prescribed. I know that they are supposed to help with anxiety disorders, but in my case they just made me feel worse. I hope when I see the doctor in a couple of days time I can make him really listen and understand my condition, and prescribe something suitable.

    • Bill May 28, 2016, 6:54 pm

      My doctor gave me a pill to take before I go to bed, that is to help me sleep and help me with my appetite because I cannot eat. But he tells me to come back in a month. It is not working. Which I means I have to suffer a whole months before I can see him to let him know it is not working. I feel lost.

  • Kate October 25, 2015, 11:13 pm

    Anxiety disorder is a terrible thing it really is. What makes it worst is people arround you telling you to “just deal with it” because they lack the knowledge of how serious it is. This affects every part of my life. I never took it very serious but I knew it was always there. However it started getting worse and keeping me up at night day after day.

    The only thing helps with this is Xanax and unfortunately it took 15+ doctors to finally get it prescribed. I think everyone knows this already but Xanax has such a bad name for some reason that doctors are afraid to prescribe it. It’s a shame because if you were to go and directly ask for it you will be DENIED and looked at as a drug addict. Well just wanted to get that off my chest.

    • Bill May 28, 2016, 6:58 pm

      I have no appetite due to depression and nerves. People tell me “You have to eat.” But no one tells me how.

  • Ali December 5, 2015, 9:13 am

    I have had the same anxiety and paralyzing fears for about 20 years as well, and am only 36. I had many traumas from as far as I can remember throughout my childhood, and it caused anxiety and C-PTSD so bad that some days I wanted to end it all. (C = Complex, which means that I had multiple traumas back to back for many years.) I am lucky to have met my husband at 19, a wonderful man that supports and helps me, and I haven’t worked in a long time until recently.

    The only drug that helped me to ever leave my room and talk to anyone aside the self medication of alcohol (yuck!) was a Benzodiazepine called Clonazepam. I tried all of the Benzo family, but because of the way it affects the brain, it simply helped me better than all the others. It is a controlled substance, so I feel you, Kate, when you say that it is hard to get a doctor to prescribe it. I take a pretty high dose after a decade of taking it, but I take it always as prescribed, and have had the same doctor for many years.

    This helps tremendously to the credibility of needing it, if you do. I emailed many doctors and simply told them truthfully what helped me, and eventually found one who was willing, as she knew that “sometimes it’s the only thing that works for certain people”. If you can go it without drugs, then try, as it is not an easy path either. But I consider it so much better than not living at all! I was a gymnast and ballerina from 4-13, and my doctor thinks that this was also a trauma-ridden experience.

    I did stop exercise abruptly at around 17, however, so I can tell you that it is definitely something that helps to manage the anxiety, and definitely added to my fears when I was not exercising. Also, I found that no antidepressants helped ever, in fact they made my symptoms much worse. I tried almost all of them over 15 years with no help whatsoever. Nothing helped until I tried a different tactic in how I took the medication. I had tried Gabapentin before with no results.

    But once I tried a new method, Gralise (ER Gabapentin), it did wonders for me for two reasons: 1) I titrated up slowly from a very small amount (I believe those of us with traumas and highly sensitive people are very sensitive to drugs, as we are to all things!) to eventually the recommended dose. 2) It is ER, or Extended Release, so it doesn’t have a roller-coaster feeling when taking it, and if you miss a dose or don’t take it exactly at the right time, you don’t lose the meds in your system.

    I also do not believe that drugs are the only thing we need. 4 years ago I took my knowledge of gymnastics, ballet, and yoga and eventually tai chi and put them to good use. I found that meditation and the energy through yoga and tai chi do wonders for crippling fears. At first I had to do it at home, as it took all of my strength to just go outside and get to a class.

    Eventually with my meds, meditation, and exercise, I was able to get my teacher training certificate, and became an instructor. I worked at a studio for many years, and am now trying to get my own studio. It is extremely scary to think of, and I still can’t believe that I have made it to being able to teach classes, much less owning my own business! One day at a time and breathe! Meditate, and breathe…

    Mush of that ability came through simply believing in myself again through therapy and chronic anxiety therapy group classes. I found others with the same fears and we helped each other. We also did something called orienting. It is simply stopping, looking around the room, and then finding something to fixate on and just let go, breathe, and meditate on that thing in the room, or outside, wherever you are. Once I was in the grocery store with my husband and had to grab him and hug him, and I oriented this way, and it was the first time I didn’t have to drop everything and leave the store instantly. It helps just as much as meditation for me.

    There is no magic pill or exercise that can fix us, at least not yet or that I know of! Having people around that can understand eventually helps so much too. But just living one day at a time, and sometimes just one moment at a time, things can get better. I rarely think about taking my own life out of fear of living anymore, which was once an every moment occurrence. So, that’s something! Maybe I can do this business, we shall see. But I have hope, and that’s enough for now, because I never thought I would be thinking it, much less writing it, and never, ever doing it…

    • Karen December 22, 2015, 1:36 am

      Thanks for the honesty of your comment…I have suffered repeated traumas starting in childhood and have extreme anxiety that no one understands…been through Xanax addictions. Nothing the doctors will give me help. I am very suicidal because I feel like I am living in a hell that doesn’t end and my only relief is when I sleep, which I now have an ambien addiction to.

      • CJ March 31, 2016, 12:57 am

        Karen I really understand your extreme anxiety. I’m living in this never ending hell myself where every moment is almost unbearable. You are right that the only relief is sleep, at least for me. Please know that someone else does understand.

        • Travis June 9, 2016, 12:04 am

          I battled and I’m battling it again here now. Been battling it my whole life. Call the hotlines setup around. Mine was brought on by ptsd. I promise you.. You can get though it, just do small things and set small goals. Remember that it’s okay to sleep. I slept a lot when I first decided to face my fears. And that is the cure… facing it. Panics attacks are just adrenaline which forces you to flee or fight.

          It’s the reason you have all these thoughts. You can beat it… it’s not an overnight thing. If you have a pile of dishes in the sink but can’t get to them…that’s okay. Force yourself to do a couple glasses. And sit back or lay down. If your having trouble eating…eat small amounts in the same fashion. Whatever is bothering you, think this. Is there anything you can do about it?

          Ask that question and set small goals to attend to it. If there’s nothing you can do about it then why let it get to you. Don’t stress over tomorrow… think about the next hour and how you’ll get though that. Also…it is okay to cry and open up to someone you trust about it. Take it a few bits out of a time…watch funny TV shows keep being positive.

          My mom got diagnosed with cancer and that’s why I’m dealing with this again. But it’s not nearly as bad as the first time… but it gets easier. I promise you can learn to get a handle on it. I’m travis Croucher from Nfld, Canada and I hope this helps :)

        • C K Jacobs August 7, 2016, 8:50 pm

          I feel the same. The only relief I have is when I sleep.

  • Amanda February 4, 2016, 6:31 pm

    Hi fellow sufferers, I am discouraged today because I had a setback last night. I have suffered with anxiety ever since a miscarriage 8 years ago. I got so bad I couldn’t get out of bed… no appetite… lost an unhealthy amount of weight, stopped showering or even getting dressed. I was so scared because I didn’t know what was wrong with me.

    My doctor put me on lexapro and slowly, excruciatingly slowly, I got better. But every step of the way I had to push myself to do each thing… get up, eat, get dressed, etc. I was literally scared to do everything. I have had a major flare up almost every year since and I always start back at square one again… no appetite and being scared to do ANYTHING.

    But I can at least tell myself I’ve been here before and it does get better. I’m sorry for anyone that has to go through this nightmare of a disease.

  • Devorah February 11, 2016, 2:14 am

    I have both anxiety and depression disorders. They are both pure hell. I do have to disagree that anxiety is worse because with depression ‘you can drag yourself to do things’. I don’t know if you’ve ever suffered from severe depression, but it can cause you to not be able to move for days on end. They are both terrible, terrible things, but I feel that your comment is incorrect.

    • C K Jacobs August 7, 2016, 8:49 pm

      I have both. Severe depression IS very hard. For me, I always have both. When the anxiety is worse than the depression, though, that is when my life virtually shuts down. My anxiety is so bad now I cannot even force myself to eat except maybe three spoonfuls of food a day. I have lost forty pounds in the last month and am getting very weak. When the depression is worse at least I can eat. That’s just me, though.

  • Valentimes March 28, 2016, 9:27 pm

    I have really bad anxiety it’s so bad I stay home and do nothing, I want to go somewhere but I always think its going to happen. I need to force myself to do it, I don’t like taking medicine cause honestly I feel like it doesn’t work. I want to do stuff, but my anxiety is holding me back but this paragraph helps a lot. We will conquer are anxiety.

  • Adrian April 1, 2016, 11:09 pm

    I can relate to these problems as I suffer from depression and anxiety and its so bad the only time I get rest is when I sleep. I find it hard to eat wash and even so anxious I can’t function properly. Some days are okay, but mainly feel like I’m living in hell I cant even bring myself to go outside but I’ve been here before so I know it does get better but it doesn’t feel like it right now so I know how you must all feel. Sharing this paragraph with you all has helped me I just hope it shows you are not alone.

  • Daz April 5, 2016, 11:08 pm

    I TRULY want to go to sleep and never wake up. I’ve had Severe Depression and Social Anxiety for 32 years, and have had nothing in life – not 1 holiday – not 1 girlfriend – not 1 friend – … hate Xmas, birthdays… Easter, Halloween, etc. I’ve done and sent all the papers to donate my body to medical research (Liverpool) as don’t want my so called “Family” to enjoy a drink after my funeral.

    Asked them for help many x’s and on the day promised something always comes up…rejection after rejection…only one that cares is my elderly Mother.
    I self harm very badly and have been kept in hospital (Psychiatric)…but eventually basically thrown out with NO help. I didn’t deserve this hell (as all you don’t) and just hope it’s over soon!!!

    P.S. I hate people who say “I’ve had a hard day at work today” to their partners. They don’t know what a hard day really is… lying in bed for days with the hellish depression and wanting nobody near you is a hard day/week/months.

  • Georgie April 12, 2016, 3:44 pm

    I completely understand the exhausting experience of having severe anxiety. I have been a chronic sufferer with it and OCD for many years. It seems to get worse as I grow older. A low dose of Clonazepam did help initially, but the side-effects became too bothersome. I do have faith in God, and that is the one thing that has kept me from “falling off the edge.” We all just have to keep on going and try to find joy in the midst of our pain. You are not alone!

    • taylor June 6, 2016, 9:36 am

      Amen Georgie. Basically you have to find something to hold on too. You have to release. With God, I can feel the calm. If you read the scripture there is one for everything you face in life. Including anxiety. I find as I’m reading it a tingle all around me. I have always had God, but life isn’t easy it was never promised to be easy. We have to work with the cards we get dealt the best we can.

      If your trying your doing a heck of a good job by that alone. I know what it feels like. I think the biggest thing is acceptance. I also know what its like to have to drag yourself around or wonder where the person you use to be is, but for some reason I like to think – anxiety is part of being so aware. And feeling. Honestly its usually intelligent people who have it.

      I like to think we are all in the same boat. Have been in pain,so we show compassion. Have known lots of things and felt lots of things so we tend to reach out to help others. Basically all in all, I like to think maybe its not a disease maybe we are the ones who can change the world. I state that because anyone who feels the way depression or anxiety feels takes a battle everyday.

      And anyone that’s no stranger to pain shows lots of compassion. So the best thing I see to do is get on that level channel it into doing good, that let some endorphins flow. Try to focus on here and now. Imagine good things. Don’t let this get the best of you. Make your will fight.

      The way I see it is if we were put here with something like that, we were meant to be warriors and meant to make a difference, and most the people I’ve ever met that have made a difference did suffer from one of the two if not both or something else. It’s hard to fight. The thing I always repeat in my head is, Giving up is never an option.

      I pray all the time. And then I let it go. I don’t think there is a cure, I think you (we) all will make it though and if not just make it, make it even higher than say someone who doesn’t have it because we have one thing on our sides. That is compassion. And my faith, my hope, most importantly God. You’re never alone.

  • Mona July 19, 2016, 9:04 am

    It really is a good article to read since I feel it that way too. Started from January 2016 until now, I have been feeling so scared to do anything especially to go outside to think a about anything that could happen to me and people that I love and care most. It is hard for me to talk to people out there about my feeling anymore and it is so weird.

    At the same time, people around me who are said to protect me always comment about my personality and everything about me. I begin to like being alone, well, in fact, I call myself an introvert, but this time, it is getting worst. Doctor said I have a depression and in some points, I agree with that. If you were in my position, could you handle all of this by yourself?

    I do not even know how to tell to people about this since I’m scared to hell. I pray, of course, to relieve this negative feeling and it is the only solution for me to be able to talk about who I really am. So, for those who feels scared to go outside, feels like you are being trapped by some conditions around you, doesn’t know how to make friends easily anymore because of several reasons or and something bad in your past and you decided to stay in your own comfort zone as it is stated on this article, I really am in your side.

    Hope that this article will be able to cure my feeling little by little. At least I know, I have tried that though I’m still scared to hell. After all, I presume the only thing to heal this is only a full time adventure by playing with nature, to go abroad to go out from your comfort zone since drugs like Xanax won’t help if, in my case, like me, still afraid of going outside to go out from my comfort zone.

    Drugs won’t help to relieve your anxiety disorder or post traumatic disorder which have caused you depressed for some situations in your life. Playing with nature, exploring it without thinking about anything too much deeply is, I presume, will be the best medicine for you. Thus, I still try to do it. This is not a disease, but symptoms. Thank you for writing this article. At least, I can share my arguments in here… Cheers

  • Amba Kirbey August 4, 2016, 7:36 am

    I understand what you all are going through and I do believe in god but I also think he is very unfair to let good people suffer like this! It’s truly a debilitating battle each day that one who has never had an anxiety disorder can not understand. I cherish the days where I had a much reduced level of anxiety and was happy enough to go for a walk in the park with my dog, jump about and not worry that I am going to have a panic attack at any moment.

    I am trapped by my own mind and no matter how much I tell my self it’s okay, my little wee heart will pound and I will have to stop and wait for it to calm the heck down. :( Been through this nightmare 2 years ago and some how I eventually came right. Always had the fear it would come back (though I did not think about that too much). After telling the one person I truly wanted to be with how much I loved them, was rejected and stayed in an anxiety spiral.

    3 months later and never slept properly since. Never hungry and have thought about ending my life just because I can’t find the will due to panic attacks that are always on my mind. fear of the fear is a nasty cycle and once you’re in, it can take yonks to feel “normal” again, if that’s even possible. Sorry for the rant! Hang in people! It’s a bumpy ride! Much love to y’all.

  • C K Jacobs August 7, 2016, 8:43 pm

    I wish there were more helpful suggestions. I have been dealing with a lot of real life stress events for the past two months. During the last month I can hardly eat, maybe a few mouthfuls of food per day. I have lost 40 pounds and am weak. Looking for ideas so I can eat again.

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