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Free Floating Anxiety – What exactly is it?

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Free-floating anxiety is a general persistent worry with no fixed cause, also described as fear, nervousness, and worry appearing for no particular reason.

Free-floating anxiety occurs with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, but may also occur with other anxiety disorders. There are no specific reasons and cause of action in free-floating anxiety or GAD.

It is often characterized by excessive worry over different areas in life, such as finance, school, work, performance, relationships, and especially when there is no cause for worry.

People suffering from free-floating have no particular trigger, they assume the worst in every situation even after resolving certain issues.

Although the origins of GAD are not linked to specific conditions or events, it may be because of genetics, biological and environmental factors. Free-floating anxiety is a difficult disorder to live with as it induces an inability to concentrate or focus and impedes an individual’s performance since they experience brief relief, rest, sleep, and relaxation from constantly thinking and worrying.

It is mostly experienced in adolescents, adult males and adult females with a higher prevalence rate in women than men and also the most common among adolescents. The age of onset is usually between the early 30s to middle 30.

What Are The Causes of Free-floating Anxiety?

Free-floating anxiety does not have any apparent cause but may have potential components such as

Previous experience

Childhood memories, maltreatment, violence, abuse, traumatic events from preceding situations can cause disorders, making it difficult for you to relax or concentrate. You keep thinking about the what if’s, what if it happens again? What if they’re just like the past people? what if it’s my fault?. Too many what if’s that overstress your brain and may become a part of your subconsciousness at some point.


While certain medications may not cause anxiety disorders, they can aggregate symptoms and worsen your conditions. Always seek a doctor’s approval before taking medications and resist drug abuse and self-medicating.

What Are The Signs You Have Free Floating Anxiety

image of what is a free-floating anxiety

Free-floating anxiety disorder is characterized by uncontrollable worry without a trigger, and mostly exists with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. If you experience any of these symptoms in abnormal bouts, you are likely suffering from a free-floating anxiety disorder.


Being on edge, inability to rest or relax, uneasiness, fidgeting and frequently being on edge are clear signs of free-floating anxiety. You find it very difficult to sit or stay still in relaxing situations or conditions that do not require restlessness.

Blank Mind

Frequent blank outs, forgetfulness can arise with chronic thinking, worry, or fear. You keep zoning out and forgetting the simple things.


Feeling snappish, having mood swings and temperamental changes is more likely to happen in people with GAD or free-floating anxiety than others.

Sleep disturbances

Irrational fear and anxiety can cause hormonal fluctuations, making it difficult to sleep. Your subconscious mind is constantly awake, creating scenarios that are unreal and causing distress to the brain. This can lead to sleep apnea because of irregular sleep patterns.

Muscle tension

Stress and anxiety are key factors of tension. You are always tense, your body is always in its fight-or-flight mode resulting in physical pain.

Easily fatigued

Serotonin is the hormone responsible for feelings and overall well-being. It affects your entire body from eating, sleeping and digestion. A disruption in this hormone can cause anxiety, sleep disturbances, and lack of sleep that eventually leads to fatigue or excessive tiredness.

How Is Free Floating Anxiety Diagnosed

Free-floating anxiety is a diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. It is associated with GAD and one of the most common anxiety disorders, affecting 9% of the population and prevalent in women than men.

You can be diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder if you have episodes happening more days than not for six months or more.

Before you can be diagnosed with GAD, your doctor will carry out a series of lab tests to determine if you are actually experiencing Generalized Anxiety or one of the other anxiety disorders.

GAD starts with your thoughts and affects your mind before becoming a full-blown illness that involves your body. It is usually not detected on time as people suffering from the disorder think they are overthinkers or born worriers.

It may occur with depression, panic disorder and social disorder in degrees and can become debilitating, creating worrisome absurd thoughts, accompanied by fatigue, irritability, lightheadedness, feeling giddy, pounding and heart palpitations, panic attacks and feelings of suffocation, hyper-alertness, and being jumpy and on edge all the time.

You are crippled by intense unease and question yourself, your abilities, strengths, weaknesses, performance, you are easily startled. You might become overprotective if your fear and worry are focused on your family, husband, and children. Sufferers are at a higher risk of brain disorder and heart diseases which can lead to premature deaths compared to others.

Effects of Free-floating Anxiety

The impact of anxiety disorder can range from a variety of physical to psychological effects.

A persistent sense of doom

Free-floating anxiety induces consistent doom-laden feelings. Your body feels stuck in its fight-or-flight mode, making you see only the worst in every situation, therefore restricting your performance and capabilities.


When there are hormonal fluctuations of serotonin in your body, this causes sleep disruption because of the distress on your brain. There will be irregular sleep patterns, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep with restlessness.

Body’s Overall Functionality

Stress and anxiety can affect functionality in your relationships, work, academics, and social gatherings. You keep reflecting on negative thoughts and ideas, along with irrational fears.

Premature death

Anxiety disorder can become a lifelong illness and lead to death if left untreated. The distress caused to the brain and hormones can cause heart and brain diseases or worsen underlying medical conditions.


Depression is a mental state of gloom characterized by sad feelings and inadequacy. You frequently feel like you are not good enough, not doing as much as you should and are always in a pessimistic psychological state.

Hyper alert

Anxiety is your body’s way of alerting and responding to situations that may be threatening or dangerous. It can become disorders when at abnormal levels, making you hyper-alert, overactive, and fidgety.

How To Get Relief From A Free-floating Anxiety

There are various methods available to treat free-floating disorder and Generalized Anxiety disorders depending on your level of anxiety.


There are some drugs available to ease the effects of anxiety, but a doctor only prescribes them in severe cases after tests have been carried out to determine your anxiety level.


Psychotherapy involves a series of Cognitive-Behavioral therapy for significant results, it contains common techniques to identify, expose, and manage effects. The following are some techniques practised.


This focuses on the cause and effects of anxiety and the relationship between the two before anxiety gets out of control. You identify thoughts that act as triggers for worry; the goal is to apply the best coping methods based on anxiety level.

Relaxation techniques

These are strategies to reduce the excesses of anxiety disorders once you have signalled them. It includes specific progressive activities for breathing and muscle relaxation.

Self-control desensitization

Your therapy exposes you to anxiety-induced situations and events to apply relaxation techniques to lessen anxious associations.

Discard unhealthy lifestyle

Unhealthy lifestyle choices such as alcohol, nicotine, cigarettes and drug abuse do not cause anxiety disorders, they rather increase the impact of disorders doing more harm than good. Adapt and adhere to healthy habits like eating well, exercising, staying hydrated and practising relaxing activities.

Stay away from a negative environment

The environment you are in can influence your thoughts and actions, stay away from people and things that affect your mental state and well-being. Surround yourself with family, friends and things that bring you peace of mind.

Regular sleep patterns

Stress-induced activities can disrupt your sleeping patterns and cause insomnia. Go to bed at the same time every day, try not to over-stress yourself physically or mentally.

Stay positive

While worry is inevitable in life, overthinking and excess worry only creates more problems. Engage in problem-solving solutions rather than focusing on scenarios that can be averted.


Free-floating anxiety is a type of anxiety disorder usually associated with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. However, it may occur with other anxiety disorders such as social anxiety disorder and panic disorder.

It causes uneasy and excess worry with no precise source and can become a lifetime prevalence. Studies show that this disorder affects your mind, then your body and eventually overall functionality and can lead to life-threatening conditions.

Treatment for this disorder involves cognitive behavioral skills and therapy, practising relaxation techniques, surround yourself with positivity, affirm yourself, try to relax and reduce negative thinking.

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