Anxiety And Depression: What Does It Feel Like To Drown

By Sarah Fader

Updated December 05, 2018

Understanding the Signs

Anxiety is something that everyone experiences in varying magnitudes and manifestations. When faced with a stressful situation, our brains release a cocktail of chemicals that have a string of effects on the mind and body. Having originally evolved as the body's natural reaction to danger, in the modern sphere, the adaptation has persisted even as concrete threats of death or serious injury have been minimized for most people.

In moderate amounts, anxiety is an important member of our toolbox for surviving in the world. We find that many people today experience maladaptive levels of anxiety, which can be seen as a result of the shift of how we exist in the world. When experiencing an anxiety attack, it can give you an idea of what does it feel like to drown in your own body.

A Shift in Culture

In the past, the world necessitated that human beings exert large amounts of energy on finding food and avoiding threats of danger. In today's realm, as society becomes more and more developed and aimed at aiding convenience, people on average have become less active and eat things that they don't burn off. While normal levels of anxiety can serve to improve your focus, encourage a call to action, or inspire motivation, when the anxiety circuit is constantly active, it can become an overwhelming interference for your daily life and relationships. While most people experience these sorts of feelings during times of particular stress, those with anxiety disorders experience them to distressing levels.

What Does It Feel Like to Drown


In a time of constant connectivity, we are at risk of being overstimulated. Our brains take sensory stimulation from the environment around us, filtering out the relevant aspects and focusing our attentiveness where it matters. Sometimes, may it be due to brain injury or emotional trauma, or simply the strains and stresses of life, this filtering can become less focused and holistic. This can leave an individual overwhelmed, faced with an intense sensory experience that alters how one interacts with the environment around them. Stimulation is what gives life its color, but overstimulation has detrimental effects both physically and psychologically. The brain's natural response is to become alert; our muscles tighten into knots, and our demeanor is set on edge.

When it Becomes a Disorder

Anxiety involves essentially a cycle of becoming alert and not being able to shut this down, leaving one feeling a pervasive yet undefined ache of needing to change something but not knowing what it is. BetterHelp is equipped with professionals trained to specifically target your maladaptive behaviors and habits. Essentially an over-activation of the nervous system, feeling constantly on edge or worried without reason is one way to define the experience of anxiety.

These feelings can lead to the development of avoidance behaviors, as individuals become plagued by irrational fears, experience sudden bouts of heart-dropping panic, or habitually anticipate danger in situations that don't warrant it. It can also cause trouble concentrating, leaving you feeling as if your mind has gone blank. This can leave people with unexplained feelings of irritability, as well as somatic symptoms such as sweating, headaches, upset stomach, dizziness, shortness of breath, and insomnia.


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