Crippling anxiety can affect your daily life and prevent you from doing the things you love. If you feel like there’s no way out, there are ways you can cope and manage your anxiety.

Crippling anxiety is a common phrase used to describe severe anxiety. It feels debilitating or so intense that it negatively affects your everyday life.

Most people experience stress or anxiety in their daily lives, such as feeling nervous about a presentation or aggravated about being stuck in traffic. But when your anxiety becomes so severe it’s a challenge to perform your everyday tasks, it may be a sign that your anxiety needs attention.

If you’re feeling crippled by anxiety, and it’s become persistent or overwhelming to deal with know you’re not alone. Anxiety is manageable and treatable.

Symptoms of anxiety can vary from person to person and range from mild to severe. But when you experience severe symptoms, they can feel unbearable or even crippling.

If you’re feeling anxious on more days than you’re not, that may be a sign to consider looking into treatment. Here are a few other signs to look out for.

Physical symptoms

  • digestive issues like nausea, upset stomach, diarrhea
  • feeling lightheaded, dizzy, or headache
  • fatigue, insomnia
  • shortness of breath, racing heart, tightness in the chest
  • muscle tension or twitching
  • sweating
  • frequent need to urinate

Emotional and behavioral symptoms

  • feelings of dread
  • feeling out of control
  • intense worry or racing thoughts
  • intense irritability or agitation
  • avoidance of objects or situations that are frightening

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder affecting more than 40 million adults in the United States. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), believe that both genetic and environmental factors may play a role in what causes crippling anxiety.

Anxiety disorders may run in families or be triggered by a traumatic or stressful life event. Crippling anxiety can also be a sign of an anxiety disorder, such as:

Treatment for crippling anxiety

If you’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or feel you’d benefit from treatment, you have options. Depending on how debilitating your anxiety has become, your treatment may include any of the following options.


Psychotherapy is a form of talk therapy that is tailored to your specific anxiety. Two approaches to this treatment option are:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): teaches you different ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving, as well as exposure therapy that helps you confront your fears.
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT): Uses mindfulness as well as teaches you to set goals to help reduce anxiety.


Crippling anxiety can be treated with a variety of medications that can help manage your symptoms. Common medications include:

  • benzodiazepines
  • beta-blockers
  • selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

Stress management techniques

To reduce anxiety symptoms and enhance the effects of psychotherapy you can also practice stress management techniques. According to NAMI, relaxation practices can help calm the body and mind.

Breathing exercises and meditation as well as aerobic exercises can help improve the management of your anxiety.

Support groups

Many people with anxiety find comfort in support groups. This is a place you can share your problems and successes with like-minded people. While support groups do not replace treatment recommendations, they can accompany them.

You can join a self-help or support group both online and in person. Here are Psych Central’s six best online support groups.

If you feel crippled by anxiety and feel like it’s taking over your life, know that you’re not alone and there are ways you can live and manage this disorder. Here are a few tips to consider trying right now.

Deep belly breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing or breathing from the belly has shown significant benefits to help reduce anxiety and release tension and stress, suggests research from a 2018 research review.

To reap the benefits of this coping technique, try the 4-7-8 method.

  • Exhale through your mouth and make a whooshing sound.
  • Inhale silently through your nose for a count of four.
  • Hold your breath for seven seconds.
  • Exhale through your mouth for eight seconds while making a whooshing sound.

A grounding technique

Grounding is a simple way to gain control over your feelings and decrease the intensity of the emotion you’re feeling to help you feel safe.

An easy way to do this is to try and engage all five senses at the same time with a technique called the 5-4-3-2-1 method. This method aims to shift your focus to what’s happening around you and not on the anxiety you are currently feeling.

To try this method, look around the room and focus. Then try and name:

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can feel
  • 3 things you can hear
  • 2 things you can smell
  • 1 thing you can taste

Physical movement

Exercise is a powerful way to reduce stress. By moving your body you’re not only helping to relieve the physical tension and stress in your body, but you’re also diverting your attention away from what is causing your worry.

Get up and do something physical like go for a walk with your friend or take a yoga class. If you’re unsure of what type of exercise will best benefit your anxiety, ask your healthcare professional to make some recommendations.

Most people experience stress or anxiety at some point in their lives, but when it becomes so severe it’s affecting your everyday life, it may be considered crippling anxiety. Crippling anxiety can have a range of symptoms from shortness of breath and fatigue to feelings of intense dread or worry.

While anxiety disorders are the most common mental health disorder among adults, experts believe that anxiety may be caused by genetics or environmental stresses. Experts also believe crippling anxiety can be a sign of an anxiety disorder.

If you’re experiencing crippling anxiety, there are treatment options, such as:

In addition to treatment options, you can learn to cope by practicing breathing and grounding techniques. You can also try any type of physical movement or exercise.

You don’t have to live with crippling anxiety. Consider talking with a licensed therapist. A therapist can help you explore the roots of your anxiety and teach you ways to better manage it.