The Scariest Symptom Of Anxiety, According To 5,000 People

Anxiety therapist Joshua Fletcher ran a poll asking people to name the scariest symptom of anxiety.

scared woman Slatan via Canva

Anxiety is a tough journey, especially when we grapple with symptoms like stuttering, nervous shakes, or increased heart rate. But what's the absolute worst part of anxiety?

Anxiety therapist Joshua Fletcher created a poll to shed light on this issue, and according to Fletcher, there's one symptom that takes the cake for being the scariest symptom among them all.



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The Scariest Symptom of Anxiety

Fletcher's recent poll, which garnered 5,000 votes, raised the question of what the scariest symptom of anxiety is. The result?

The scariest symptom of anxiety is derealization or depersonalization, also known as DPDR.

According to Fletcher, DPDR is when we detach from reality. More specifically, depersonalization feels as if your thoughts, body, or feelings, are outside yourself.

Depersonalization causes us to experience numbness and a lack of emotional reaction. On the flip side, derealization feels as if you're in a dream-like state. Things tend to be out of shape or blurry. However, these symptoms are just that — symptoms. It becomes scary when we realize this feeling can last a few hours for some or a few months for others.




Aside from anxiety, drug use, stress, depression, and trauma can also cause DPDR.

DPDR can:

  • Make it harder to focus.
  • Disturb work and other activities.
  • Cause issues within your relationships.

If you're dealing with DPDR, you're probably seeking ways to anchor yourself back into reality. Fortunately, there are tips you can implement into your routine that may help.


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How To Ground Yourself Back In Reality

Reconnecting with reality after experiencing DPDR can be challenging, but it's not impossible.

1. See a therapist

Professional guidance will help support you throughout your journey.

2. Reduce behaviors that may cause DPDR

Don't engage in alcohol or drug use. Clinical Psychologist Susan Albers tells Cleveland Clinic, “Recreational drugs and alcohol can trigger feelings of depersonalization, so any usage of those should stop.”

3. Try some grounding exercises

Next, incorporate grounding exercises into your daily routine. When experiencing DPDR, focus on the sounds around you. Touch the ground or try humming a familiar tune. If you're home you can try wrapping a blanket around you.


The point is to use your senses to become in tune with your body.

4. Practice mindful breathing and meditation

Engage in deep breathing exercises. Albers suggests breathing in for four seconds, holding for four seconds, then breathing out for six seconds.

Another helpful tip to consider is implementing meditation into your routine. As Albers puts it, "These techniques can teach you how to observe physical and emotional sensations calmly and safely.”


Recognizing DPDR allows for a better understanding of your symptoms, aiding in grounding yourself back into reality.

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Marielisa Reyes is a writer with a bachelor's degree in psychology who covers self-help, relationships, career, and family topics.