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Understanding Anticipatory Anxiety

This 3-page product illustrates the differences between a typical anxiety pattern and an unhealthy anticipatory anxiety pattern, and includes practical tips to help resolve anxiety in healthy ways. Anticipatory anxiety develops when the mind attempts to predict, process, and adapt to future events. It helps individuals prepare for future events, but an overabundance of anxiety can be unhealthy. It often manifests as fear and worry as the body expends energy anticipating potential periods of stress or crisis.


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An uptick in stress can be observed as planning for the event approaches. This is followed by a short-lived peak in anxiety as the event occurs and then moves quickly into the resolution phase.


















During an unhealthy anticipatory anxiety pattern, instead of the anxiety uptick driving the individual toward planning, it causes the individual to repeatedly imagine the worst possible scenarios.


















  • Sara Durbin, PsyD