Avoidance anxiety results from trying to avoid those things that cause you to be uncomfortable or fearful. When facing fears, a person experiences anxiety. Avoidance anxiety is a disorder that a person experiences when they know they are facing a situation they don’t think they can overcome. As the person tries to avoid the situation and the anxiety it causes, they may exhibit behaviors that affect how they interact with others.

Being overwhelmed by anxiety can lead to extreme measures to avoid the situation. Rather than trying to understand the fear and overcome it, some may choose to completely avoid any exposure to what they fear, which opens up another avenue of anxiety. Avoidance anxiety occurs when you worry about how to avoid the situations that cause you to experience anxiety. It becomes a vicious cycle.

Coping with the vicious cycle

The vicious cycle of anxiety starts with worrying about a situation or trying to understand how to cope with something that hasn’t happened yet. This is the anxiety part of the circle. A fear of a potential threat causes your body to experience the fight or flight response to situations. Not long after you recognize that you are experiencing anxiety, the anxiety symptoms intensify.

Once the symptoms intensify your focus will most likely shift to yourself and how your body is reacting. Then you will try to decide if you can avoid the situation or cope with whatever is causing anxiety. Once you have decided to avoid the situation, you may find short-term relief, however, that only reinforces the behavior of avoiding things that make you anxious.

This will reduce your confidence in your ability to cope with the situation and you find that you are repeatedly avoiding it, only to find that you are once again worrying about it happening. This is the vicious cycle of avoidance anxiety.

Examples of behavior that stems from avoidance anxiety

Some of the most common behaviors that revolve around avoidance anxiety have to do with how you define relief. These behaviors can look different based on the person and the level of anxiety experienced.

  • Phobias about specific things can cause you to avoid places where you may encounter those things.
  • Health anxiety or hypochondria revolves around fear related to your health.
  • Social anxiety relates to the fear of being around people that you don’t know or worrying about judgment from others.
  • Anxiety related to relationships can also cause avoidance behaviors. This can be evident by avoiding healthy behaviors rather than being genuine.

How does avoidance anxiety affect my mental health?

Trying to find ways to avoid anxiety can create a lifestyle of fear and dread. You may fear that you won’t be able to identify a trigger in time or you may dread certain things because you know that you will experience the uncomfortable symptoms of anxiety.

Even though you may experience moments of relief the anxiety symptoms eventually become more intense the more you try to avoid the situation. The more you try to escape you may find that you are more likely to exhibit behaviors that others want to avoid. This can cause issues in relationships.

When you are experiencing intense symptoms of anxiety it can affect how you perform at work or school. This can result in changes that could prevent you from experiencing a fulfilling career. You could miss opportunities, relationships, and promotions when you choose to avoid certain aspects of work.

Avoiding everyday things such as routes you drive, stores you use for shopping, or other activities you have to complete during the day can cause added costs or take up time unnecessarily.

Another aspect of avoiding anxiety is reacting to the situation just to make it go away. We do this without contemplating the consequences of those reactions.

Some may choose to remain in the situation even though we know it’s not good for us. It’s the comfort that provides us with short-term relief.

How do I recognize avoidance anxiety?

Recognizing avoidance anxiety isn’t easy to do. This is because sometimes these behaviors are not much different from the behavior of people who do not suffer from anxiety. Some of the recognizable symptoms of avoidance anxiety are:

  • Wishful thinking is used to ignore facts and rely on what they desire to happen.
  • Hidden emotions keep a person from dealing with the feeling of fear that is associated with the situation.
  • Isolation is a choice to stay away from the places and things that cause uneasy feelings.
  • Methods of escape such as books, movies, or video games can keep a person occupied and content while not facing the situation.
  • Procrastination is a type of avoidance that can be used to delay what should be done.
  • Excessive alcohol or drug abuse is a common way that people deal with facing things that hurt or make them uneasy.

How can I learn to cope with avoidance anxiety?

There are some strategies that you can use to help cope and overcome avoidance anxiety. The important key is that you choose to make changes in the way you face the anxiety rather than hide from it.


When you take time to write out your thoughts and emotions you can see how to change your thought process. It can also help you identify where these thoughts come from.

Recognize that even bad events can cause growth

Most of the time we think that bad events or experiences mean we have failed in some way. But actually, these incidents can provide a way for us to grow as we learn about ourselves.

Learn to use stress management

Stress can sometimes cause anxiety. People find that if they learn how to manage the stress that comes from the issue they can overcome the avoidance behavior.

Become flexible and tolerant

If you want to reduce stress, learning how to be flexible in situations can help alleviate a lot of unneeded anxiety. Learning how to tolerate changes and work through them can help you manage stress.

Speak life

When a person changes the way they talk to themselves it can give them a new perspective on how they see themselves concerning the life they are living. Speaking life-positive statements can also boost self-confidence.

Develop a way to cope

A great way to cope with anxiety is to ask yourself how you can work through your feelings and fears. When you figure out that most of the time you cannot control the situation the anxiety begins to fade.

Getting professional help

Avoidance anxiety can be treated through faith-based counseling sessions. Not coping with the fears that keep you isolated is not healthy mentally or physically. This behavior can give way to other health issues. It is important to get the help you need to diminish the struggles that come with avoidance behaviors.

Avoidance anxiety can impact many aspects of life. This is why someone who struggles with this behavior needs to be able to have access to a Christian counselor who understands how faith can play an integral part in overcoming fears. A Christian counselor in your area can create a plan that will incorporate scripture in a way that will promote speaking life-positive statements.

“I love You, LORD, my strength.” The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my savior, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I call upon the LORD, who is worthy to be praised, And I am saved from my enemies. Psalm 18:1-3, NASB

“Anxiety”, Courtesy of Annie Spratt, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “How Are You Really?”, Courtesy of Finn, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Overwhelmed”, Courtesy of Nik Shuliahin, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Stay Away”, Courtesy of M.T. ElGassier, Unsplash.com, CC0 License


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