The Worry Games
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It is important to remember that not all anxiety disorder symptoms revolve around the physical  sensations that we experience from the extra adrenaline our brains are cranking out.

All of that extra adrenaline can make you feel mental fatigue and other mental  symptoms as well.

This is because adrenaline makes your mind hyper-aware and extra alert.   And when you are in the throes of a bad anxiety spiral, you STAY hyper-aware and extra alert.   Your mind basically never shuts off.

Your thoughts seem to never stop coming and often feel as though they are racing.    Even when you are sleeping,  your mind is more active and alert and constantly scanning for danger.   24 hours a day,  you are a walking,   hyped up radar,  subconsciously scanning your body and your environment over and over again so you don’t  “miss anything” that could potentially be a threat to you.

This is why insomnia is a huge problem for people with anxiety disorders.  

Not only do we already have a hard time relaxing because that is the kind of personality we have  (we just aren’t comfortable being relaxed),  but then we are also  dealing with brains that are doing everything short of blaring an air horn in our ears in order to keep us from letting our guard down too much.   It can make sleep kind of hard to come by.

And when we are tired from lack of sleep,  and emotionally and mentally exhausted from the constant scanning, worrying,  checking,  and everything else that goes along with having an anxiety disorder, we basically become like walking 3 year olds who REALLY need a nap.    We start to over react to everything.


Everything seems 10 times worse when you are tired.


And when you are physically and mentally exhausted,  and dealing with an anxiety disorder your whole world feels like one big “trigger”.   It seems like anything can set your anxiety off.   The longer this mentally exhausted state of mind goes on,  the worse it can get,  until eventually,  you start to become a bit like Barney Fife after 2 pots of coffee.   You are running around all over town firing your gun off every time you see your own shadow.

It’s not that we become “paranoid”.    Rather,   it’s a little thing I like to refer to as being  “Scare-a-noid”.

“Scare-a-noia”   is when you become so emotionally tired and run down that you become really jumpy all the time and startle easily, as well as perceive everything to be a much bigger issue/problem than you would if you were at your normal “settings”.  Here are some other things that you might notice:

  • You find it hard to focus.
  • You often think you are seeing things out of the corner of your eye.
  • You find it hard to stay still and are very fidgety.
  • You can’t relax and you may have trouble sleeping.
  • It often feels also though something bad is about to happen, even if you have nothing factual to base that feeling on.
  • Noises can seem louder and lights can seem brighter.
  • You don’t want to be touched. You just want to be “left alone”.

I went through a period of  “Scare-a-noia”  where I about jumped out of my shoes every time somebody said “hi” to me.   I would startle so hard that it actually HURT.    I remember yelling at my then-husband to stop scaring me,   even though he wasn’t doing anything wrong or out of the ordinary.  Often, he had simply just walked into the room to talk to me.

Everything seemed louder,  “severe” and threatening.    But this is what happens when you become overly sensitized by constant worry and stress and adrenaline.    Just know that this response is a totally normal part of having an anxiety disorder,  and it does NOT mean there is something wrong with you.   It’s just a tired mind over-reacting to even the slightest of stimuli.


Anxiety Mental Fatigue

In addition to giving you “scare-a-noia”,  mental fatigue can also cause you to develop some pretty interesting phobias that feel almost kind of rational at the time you are dealing with them.    It isn’t until later on,  when you are mentally healthier and more rested that you might start to think   “I can’t believe I was ever afraid of that.”  

For example,  I have had symptoms where I feared I would yell out something awful in a crowd.   Adrenaline can make you feel “surges” for lack of a better word where you feel like you won’t be able to control your thoughts or words or actions.   (But you are ALWAYS in control…I promise.)   I was just sure that those adrenaline surges were going to cause profanity or nonsense or some crazy sounding thing to come flying out of my mouth at any given inappropriate moment.    This really bothered me!   My poor,  tired mind.  

It may seem like such an odd thing to develop a phobia about , but all that adrenaline you are producing, combined with your level of mental fatigue, will  make you over-analyze any fleeting thought and turn it straight into a fear.    Whatever happens to grab your attention at just the right  “tired moment”  will become the new latest and greatest thing that you start to worry and panic over.


When you are emotionally exhausted, you are very susceptible to over-reacting to harmless things,  falling into negative thought patterns, over analyzing your thoughts,  and hatching new phobias and fears.

This is why you MUST… HAVE TO…..take care of yourself and get plenty of rest and relaxation when you are going through a particularly bad time.  You are….we are…..all of us with anxiety disorders are always going to be more sensitive to the stresses of life than the average person and we have to take care of ourselves more than the average person does.


Once you rest and start to heal from whatever current stress or grief you are going through –   and desensitize yourself and shut off the adrenaline,  I promise you will get your life back and you will look back,  and you too will say to yourself  “I can’t believe I was ever afraid of that.”  

It just takes time and consistency. 

Anxiety, Mental Fatigue

Know that whatever phobias or fears or obsessions you are going through….they do not mean you are insane or mentally “broken”.

On the contrary, your anxiety disorder is a sign that your brain is doing all of the RIGHT things.   Just a little over-zealously.    But that is something you can work with.    With the right tools and the right amount of rest,  self-education,  determination and counseling/therapy if you decide to use it, you can put all of those things behind you and get your life back.

Looking for more information on Mental Fatigue?  Check out’s  article 7 Signs of Mental Fatigue.







Lisa Branson

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22 thoughts on “Part 4: Anxiety and Mental Fatigue

  1. Pingback: Anxiety In What-If Land

  2. Jerry J.

    HI, thoughts are the reason we’re not at the eye center permanently. When we’ve trained ourselves to be fearful of the next anxious moment, it’s just fear of fear. I shouldn’t say just, as when your in the moment, even though you can stop the thoughts which should ease the adrenaline flow, your still remembering with vivid clarity the fear part of the fight or flight response. Nature uses fight or flight via adrenaline to safeguard us for survival. If we don’t fight or flight and freeze the moment, we learn to get stuck with the fear, and was a panic attack for me. Pure fear, and again the fear was having another episode with the same remembered fear. Fear of the fear part of flight or flight, and getting stuck with it. I would have drummed up scenarios where I would be thrown into a cell with no way to get out and be stuck with the fear. Once I realized it was the adrenaline that caused the fear, that knowledge cut the effects by about 75%. We are in control of our thoughts to a great degree, unless it’s a learned response from repressed emotions triggered from childhood. That’s a tough one as you have to figure out why a reactive behavior exists, but long story short, you can slow down and even stop thoughts with practice, but the physical symptoms will still be there. To stop thoughts while your feeling uncomfortable with the remembered and present physical symptoms is very hard and takes practice, kind of like what they do in special forces with adrenaline control. Attention is the key word. Move the attention off the physical symptoms and place it wherever you like, but not on negative thoughts. Your brain, as you were saying, will go back and think of all the problems you’ve been having in the last week or so trying to locate the source of the negative situation, and rehearse over and over the same problems in that past week until the adrenaline slows down. It’s crazy and if you know what’s happening you can divert the thoughts over to positive ones, and move the attention off the remembered physical uneasiness.

  3. Jarrod Greer

    How long does it take you get out of the fog? I had an anxiety attack that triggered an OCD episode. I have calmed down a good bit but still have some anxiety. I am still having trouble sleeping at night and still feel periods of brain fog and queezy stomach. My OCD has calmed way down though and I can feel it getting better. Do you recall how long it took you to get rid of the fog?

    1. AnnaLisa Scott Post author

      I do not recall exactly how long it took because it is more of a gradual process. You will slowly start to “forget” that you are in the fog, until one day you realize “Oh wait….I just realized I have been out of that fog for a while now. I made it through to the other side.” This, of course will probably trigger anxious feelings in you to arise again because you will think now that you “remembered”, that its now time to be anxious again. But that is all part of the process and very normal. Best wishes to you.

  4. Victoria Spadaro

    Hi AnnaLisa! I wanted to express how deeply I appreciate this post and thank you for taking the time to blog about the toll anxiety takes on ones body. As someone who too suffers from severe anxiety, I know how exhausting it can be to feel such mental mania. This inability to slow down the gears in my brain has drastically impacted my ability to perform in school, specifically when working independently. Its as if I do not have the strength, focus, or courage to carry out tasks–as they feel just too overwhelming.
    This post put the concept of mental fatigue into better perspective for me, as someone who experiences it on a regular basis. It is absolutely draining on ones mind, body, and spirit. Something not many people consider when thinking/talking openly about mental illness. The constant buzzing in the mind, racing thoughts that make it difficult to focus. A feeling of unease that seems to haunt me…
    And like you mentioned, with just about everything running through my mind at all times, sleep is extremely difficult to come by; no matter how exhausted my mind is–its impossible to relax. I enjoyed this post because of how accurate, descriptive, and understanding it is. You did an excellent job explaining the toll anxiety has on ones body. Thank you for being open and honest about your own personal tribulations. Your entire blog has begun to enlighten me.

    1. Roxanne Justiz

      I would recommend that you stay away from electronic devices. Take a nice hot bath and soak with Epsom salt and lavender. Drink chamomile and lavender tea or warm milk. Try not to think about or stress that you can’t sleep. Pray or sing, whatever makes you happy.Hope it helps. it does wonders for me.

  5. Mary

    Hi Lisa,
    Thanks for all of the great info and insights. I’m helping my sister through a difficult time following a year of a lot of stress with recently our mothers passing after 3 years of illness. She is in the throes of constant anxiety and worry without being able to settle down. She quit her job and is pretty much home bound. You never mentioned depression in your articles and yet she feels she is depresssed. Did you suffer depression along with your anxiety? Does that naturally lift once you overcome the anxiety.?
    Thanks again for all of your help.

    1. AnnaLisa Scott Post author

      Hi Mary. I have never had an issue with depression, however it is very common for anxiety and depression to co-exist. Of course I would recommend she seek professional help if she has not already and I would also really stress the importance of her not spending too much time in her head, getting out of the house and not over-thinking and over analyzing her life and the circumstances she is in. Over-thinking, in my opinion, is a HUGE contributor to depression and anxiety. It is often a strong mental “habit” that people with depression and anxiety naturally have, and it can create problem on top of problem and make life seem a thousand times worse than it actually is. If this is an issue for her, I would encourage her to consciously work on interrupting her thought patterns when she finds herself dealing with that urge to dwell and think about how bad things are. I know its not easy and it feels un-natural to not allow yourself to “feel bad” when you are really in that mindset but new patterns…new “thought tracks”….. MUST be created in order to be able to ride through depression and anxiety. It doesn’t often just “go away” on its own. You have to free yourself – and if you don’t create new thought tracks to travel on, you are just going to stay stuck where you are. I wish your sister all the best and I am sorry about the loss of your mother.

  6. Anne

    Hi AnnaLisa. Do you have any advice for people suffering from anxiety nausea. I have lost a lot of weight and I am going to counselling and on 2 prescription drugs. Alice

    1. AnnaLisa Scott Post author

      Hi Anne. Is your nausea unrelated to side effects from your prescriptions? You are certain it is anxiety related?

  7. Joey

    I have suffered from insomnia for around 4 years. My nature had become so sensitive that even after a long day, I used to get so many thoughts regarding my work, my colleagues, friends, and who not. My mind used to be constantly conscious in spite of having so much of sleep in my eyes. I took more than a year to overcome this trouble. Thank you for sharing this.

  8. radicaldreamerx

    I’m having a very bad trigger right now that goes off when I’m falling asleep. It started after I had a reaction to a tetanus shot a couple years back that gave me painful spasms and palpitations as I was about to sleep. Now whenever I get stressed or mentally tired it triggers and I get an adrenaline surge just as I’m about to drift off, which makes me of course, worry about it happening again and the cycle starts. I haven’t slept more than 3 hours a day this week. I have no idea how to train myself out it, it coming so sudden precisely when I’m relaxed and ready to doze off.

    1. AnnaLisa Scott Post author

      I’m so sorry you are going through that. That would be very difficult to live with. If it were me, I would try my very best to increase my self care, especially around bedtime. It seems as though you have created a bit of a mental pattern and I would try to break that pattern down by getting into bed and doing a new routine. I would do some deep breathing before I fall asleep, or read a book, listen to relaxing music…just anything that is calming and out of the ordinary of what I normally do. In addition, I would embrace that surge as difficult as it may seem. When it comes, I would mentally hug it, thank it for being there and smile to myself no matter how much I wanted to react negatively to it. This is a pattern that can be broken.

      I would mention it to your doctor if you haven’t already just to make sure it isn’t something still related to the tetanus injection itself but if he or she says it can’t be that, I would assume it was anxiety related and stick with the plan I mentioned above.

      Good luck.

      1. radicaldreamerx

        I had never thought of that, actually, that it could be something residual from the vaccine reaction. I’m doing some blood tests this week to check for some usual suspects, potassium, thyroid problems. I’ll tell the doctor about it when I go back.

        I do think it’s stress related, though. I already start to get extra anxious in the evening, knowing bedtime is coming. I absolute dread it. And it’s so “normal” to my thinking patter now that sleeping = bad that it’s been a uphill race to undo it.

        To be honest, this idea of trying to embrace it and be thankful for it is pretty bizarre to me, but I already know that me being angry or desperate about it is doing very little to help matters, so I’m going to give it a try. I’m still very skeptical of your take here, but nothing else seems to work, breathing exercises, music, I can’t pay attention to it, the anxiety surges go on undeterred. The only thing I’ve never tried really is just letting it happen and trying to frame it positively and be glad it’s there, however strange that may seem :]

  9. Nicola

    Thank you so much for these posts. When in the throes of being triggered, to read and remember that it’s ok means a lot. With gratitude, Nicola

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  11. Sandra

    Oh my goodness I so have scare-a-noia…and now I have to go back up into the post because I’m scared I didn’t spell that word correctly…
    Your website is filled to the brim with information that applies to people in every walk of life, but for those of us who have the disordered version of anxiety to the point where it is preventing us from leaving the house, I can’t tell you how much of a God send you and your knowledge are.

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