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43 People With Anxiety Share Their Biggest Fears

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Everyone is afraid of something. Even the most fearless and daring people have their limit.

But for people who live with anxiety disorders, fear isn’t always an occasional, ghost-jumps-out-at-you experience. This fear can become a soundtrack in their minds, looping doubts and worries. It can be hard to shut off. To get a better understanding of what this is like, we asked people in our mental health community to share their biggest or most “irrational” fear.

If you can relate, know you are not “crazy,” and you certainly are not alone.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. “My biggest trigger of anxiety is when I’m in a room full of people. I start to panic and then fear more how I would look if I just got up and left.”

2. “My health. Especially since the birth of my daughter. I have a constant fear I’m going to get sick and pass away and not be around to see her grow up.”

3. “My biggest fear is having to open up to someone about my anxiety and depression, so I keep it all bottled up even though I know I should talk to someone. But every time I try I feel like they will think I’m insane or won’t understand, so I keep it all in and end up having a panic attack.”

4. “My biggest fear with anxiety is that it will win. Win in my work place, my relationships and my self-worth. The fear of all of my insecurities coming true — ‘They don’t care about you. They wouldn’t care if you walked away. You’re naive for even thinking they benefit from having you in their lives.’”

5. “I fear starting a family and having my anxiety affect my children. It terrifies me that my mental health could have an impact on the life I bring into the world. I hope someday I can overcome this fear so my husband and I can start a family of our own.”

6. “My biggest fear is lots of people paying attention to me at one time because I’ve done something embarrassing or wrong.”

7. “All of my anxiety stems from my irrational fear of vomit. Known as emetophobia. Have had the disorder since I was 7 years old.”

8. “I’m afraid my anxiety will ruin my children’s childhood. I know it’s irrational, but it’s a like a little black raven sitting on my shoulder telling me I’m a bad mother.”

9. “My biggest fear is that I’ll end up alone. Not because I’m too unbearable to someone, but because I pushed them away because of my anxiety.”

10. “My biggest irrational fear that comes from anxiety is that my husband will eventually learn to hate me because of my anxieties and then leave me. I’m getting better every day, but there are still times I feel like I need him to say the right things more often, just to quiet the voices in my head. They’ll sometimes scream to me that because he’s quiet, he’s mad and looking for a way to break the news that he’s leaving me. It’s sad and makes me feel horrible for thinking it, but it’s an irrationality I live with almost daily.”

11. “Answering the phone.”

12. “My biggest trigger is the fear of death. I fear it so much that I don’t actually live. It’s terrible.”

13. “I feel like I’m a horrible friend because I often need space/time alone. But then I panic if I text or call or message them and don’t hear back right away. I instantly feel like they hate me.”

14. “I fear failure. My capabilities and strengths are great, but my anxiety makes me feel that I am never good enough.”

15. “My biggest fears, especially with my social anxiety, is that constant thought of being unwanted and unimportant. Always being terrified of others’ opinions of me. Also the thought of not having a purpose and wondering what on earth I’m supposed to be doing with my life.”

16. “I’m pretty sure everyone I love is going to die 100 percent of the time. Late getting home? They probably died in a car accident. Minor outpatient surgery? They’re gonna die. Breathing a little funny? Cancer. Death. I constantly have to remind myself not everyone is dying in real life just because they are dying in my head.”

17. “I fear things at random. Sometimes it’s that my family got in a horrible car accident. Other times it’s of tripping in front of people. My fear ripples with the events happening in my life. They come back and fall away like a yo-yo. My anxiety never lets me have peace. Every moment or so some horrible scenario flashes in my heart and leaves my heart racing and my eyes burning with tears.”

18. “My biggest and most irrational fear is that my anxiety will make me a person I don’t recognize, and that I will lose everything and everyone I hold dear because of it.”

19. “My fear is not that others won’t be able to accept me, but that I will never be able to accept them because I cannot see them clearly; my perception is so out of line.”

20. “My biggest fear is the unknown. Not knowing how things will turn out, whether it’s a party or the afterlife. It’s a very broad spectrum, and life is obviously full of unknowns. Instead of seeing unknowns as a fun part of life, my anxiety turns every unknown into a worst-case scenario.”

21. “I have social/general anxiety and agoraphobia. My biggest fear is losing the people I love and not being able to have a family, which only makes my anxiety worse. I worry this illness will isolate me more than it already has and ruin my dreams. It scares me every day.”

22. “I fear my anxiety makes me unlovable.”

23. “I have bad social anxiety and it causes me to think when I go out in public everyone’s staring at me and saying terrible things about me.”

24. “I have a deep fear and avoidance of bird poo. I know nobody wants it on them, but even the memory of poo being there freaks me out. I remember my mom telling my her cousin or friend lost her sight when a bird pooped on her face. When I hear ducks overhead I cover my head like a bombs going to drop.”

25. “I fear that while taking a shower I’ll slip and fall and the paramedics will see me naked.”

26. “I’m afraid all my friends will get tired of me, either because I’m boring or a burden. I am too much and not enough at the same time.”

27. “My most irrational fear would have to be thunderstorms. Thunderstorms provoke full-blown anxiety attacks for me. When there is a thunderstorm, my mind goes into panic mode and I assume the worst. I don’t see it as a thunderstorm, I see it as the possibility of something really bad and scary happening. Even though I know it is just a thunderstorm and that it is not dangerous like I think it is, anxiety doesn’t understand that.”

28. “Honestly: Windmills, zombies and loud voices.”

29. “My biggest fear is that one day, I’ll become so much of an inconvenience no one will want to be around me because I’ll be so much to handle. My biggest fear is becoming completely alone and having no one to turn to.”

30. “Being approached by sales/charity promoters in public sends my anxiety and blood pressure through the roof. I hate feeling rude by ignoring them but being approached by someone I don’t know makes me irrationality anxious, and then I feel silly for getting so worked up!”

31. “I’m afraid certain things are symbols for what is about to come. I am terrified of dead birds. If I see one, I think someone is going to die. It feels like it is a warning. Also, I’ll get nervous and scared when I start to see the same numbers in a row on the clock. (11:11 or 3:33). It has nothing to do with anything and I know it is silly, but my heart will race and I am uncomfortable just looking at the numbers.”

32. “Losing control.”

33. “My biggest fear is one I go to bed with every night. I fear my house will catch on fire and everyone inside (my kids, my husband and my cats) will die. I’ll lose everyone and everything I have. I think about it every night. I have extra smoke alarms and two fire extinguishers — none of it seems to bring any peace of mind.”

34. “I’m terrified of ordering food or paying for things. Terrified the person will get angry with me for moving too slowly or if I give them the wrong amount of money or if I mess up my order.”

35. “I get scared every single time I leave the house, that I’ll have an attack and throw up in front of everyone.”

36. “My most irrational fear is that when I’m riding in a car I will lose control of my body and jump out. I have to have the child locks engaged and if there are no child locks, I have to put things between me and the door.”

37. “My biggest irrational fear is space. The unknown of what we are, what life is, really makes me feel suffocated and anxious. I used to love everything about space; from going to the planetarium, to watching ‘Cosmos,’ ‘Interstellar,’ ‘The Martian,’ and my all time favorite show, ‘Dr Who.’ But then something clicked in me and made me fear it. I would get dizzy and feel sick to my stomach when I would watch anything about it. I can’t run away from it and it frightens me. And writing about it makes it seem so stupid and crazy to fear, but I do. I know it’s because I think too vast and that can be considered a great thing, a sign of intelligence. But for me, it’s crippling, embarrassing and frightening.”

38. “I can’t even go to the shop for milk without my hair and makeup done to my own personal standard. It scares me to the point of tears and panic attacks.”

39. “My biggest fear is being left by everyone I care about. That I’m just a placeholder till they find someone better.”

40. “The most irrational fear I have is that I’m going to spontaneously combust, tied with that I’m going to swallow a rat (if I see a rat, I panic and I’m scared that if I panic too much insanity is going to make me swallow it like I did in a dream when I was younger) and that I have maggots in my ears… [I] have to keep trying to convince myself that’s it’s not real and that touching wood multiple times is going to stop it.”

41. “I have an extreme fear of the dark. I need to have some form of night light, and someone to sleep in bed with me, or I only get three or four hours of sleep a night. Every sound, every object in the dark terrifies me. I cannot get myself out of bed if its dark in the room, and if I do it take hours for me to build up the courage to do so.”

42. “When I hear sirens, I think something happened to someone I know. I play out the entire scenario in my mind and forget sometimes it didn’t happen.”

43. “My biggest fear is that my mental illness is ‘all in my head.’”

You are not defined by your fears. If you live with anxiety, there are resources that can help. Visit the Anxiety and Depression Association of American to find a therapist, local support groups and more information about anxiety disorders.

*Answers have been edited and shortened.

Editor’s note: Not everyone experiences anxiety in the same way. These answers are based on individuals’ experiences.

Originally published: May 25, 2016
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