Anxiety in Disguise: 5 Signs that Might Surprise You

Anxiety in Disguise: 5 Signs that Might Surprise You

I was… mostly blorft. “Blorft” is an adjective I just made up that means ‘Completely overwhelmed but proceeding as if everything is fine…’

Tina Fey

Chances are, over the past several weeks you’ve felt every emotion under the sun.


All normal reactions. All totally understandable.

And while these all look and feel very different…

For many of us, they have one thing in common.

Read on for 5 surprising signs you could be experiencing (or witnessing) anxiety in disguise:

1. Irritability

When most most of us think anxiety, an image of fear and intense worry comes to mind. That’s why it can be so easy to mislabel the irritability that sometimes characterizes anxiety; we write it off as a “bad mood,” “too little sleep,” or ” just one of those days”. But in some cases, an irritable reaction (especially one that seems unprovoked or out of proportion) can signal underlying anxiety.

2. Boredom

If you haven’t felt it yourself, you’re definitely heard it over the past several weeks: “I’m borrrred!!” And while many of us are experiencing some frustration with the changes to our daily lives, not every cry of boredom is as simple as it might seem. For some of us, such as children and adolescents who might not feel fully able to express the complexity of their experience, “boredom” can signal fear, overwhelm, and a variety of other emotions.

3. Restlessness

Maybe it’s the awareness that you’ve been pacing the same hallway all morning. Or the sudden urge you felt, late last night, to reorganize the storage closet. For many of us, anxiety manifests as a sort of restless energy. And when that energy is channeled into socially acceptable activities like cleaning, organizing, and other forms of “productivity”, it’s connection to anxiety is likely to be missed.

4. Anger

From toddler tantrums to teen outbursts to a grown-up conversation that escalates into shouting… anger shows up in many forms. And when close quarters lead to physical crowding, the chance of a conflict is heightened. Before you jump directly to “fixing” the behavior, however, it’s worth pausing to consider that anxiety might be driving the behavior you’re seeing. Take a break, respond as you would to any other symptom of anxiety, and see what happens.

5. Risk-taking

Anxiety’s a tricky thing. Even when we know there’s no immediate threat of loss, anxiety sometimes compels us to make reactive choices that don’t align with our better judgment. We cross physical boundaries designed to keep us safe, incite conflicts that jeopardize our closest relationships, and adopt that threaten our own physical and emotional wellness.

If you’re recognizing any of these signs in yourself or someone close to you, please reach out. We’re here to support you.


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Think you might be experiencing (or witnessing) anxiety in disguise?