Anxiety is a very common and often overwhelming emotion. Anxiety is typically associated with feelings of uneasiness, nervousness, and consistent worry. However, it is important to note that anxiety is a complex condition that can sometimes exist beneath our conscious awareness. This means that you could be experiencing physical symptoms of anxiety even when you aren’t worried about anything in particular. This type of anxiety is termed ‘subconscious anxiety’.

What is subconscious anxiety?

Individuals suffering from subconscious anxiety aren’t aware of its presence. As opposed to overt or explicit anxiety, which is easily recognized and described by people, subconscious anxiety can operate subtly in the background of the mind, influencing feelings, behaviors, and perceptions without the sufferer even realizing it. Since subconscious anxiety is harder to recognize, it may turn into a chronic state where you constantly feel ‘on the edge’. However, this type of underlying tension can eventually become overwhelming, and it may even lead to burnout.

How to recognize subconscious anxiety?

The symptoms of subconscious anxiety are usually similar to those of all other anxiety disorders, but they are harder to recognize as they might appear without any specific trigger. While people may not explicitly feel anxious, several signs may point towards subconscious anxiety; some of them are:

  • Racing Heart

Experiencing a racing heart or shortness of breath can indicate subconscious anxiety. This is because, even if you’re not consciously aware of feeling anxious, your body may react to underlying stressors, causing bodily responses.

  • Muscle tension

Muscle tightness or tension can be a sign of subconscious anxiety, as muscles are likely to tighten or be tensed as a response to stress. 

  • Difficulty in concentration

Anxiety can negatively affect your ability to pay attention, make plans, or process new information. Subconscious anxiety can create a lot of background thoughts or noise in the mind, which can be overwhelming, leading to difficulty in concentration.

  • Emotional Overwhelm

Subconscious anxiety can slowly affect your ability to deal with life stressors, making you more susceptible to them. You might not be overtly worried, but the anxiety running in the background may take a lot of mental energy, making it difficult for you to manage your emotions. The emotional overwhelm might show up as anger, irritability, or tearful outbursts.

  • Indecisiveness

Difficulty in decision-making can be another sign of subconscious anxiety, as you may be stuck in making decisions due to an unconscious fight-or-flight triggered by underlying anxiety. This could also lead to decision paralysis, where decision-making almost becomes impossible.

  • Other Physical Symptoms

Subconscious anxiety might cause other physical issues, such as:

  • Unexplained fatigue or constant tiredness
  • Frequent headaches
  • Difficulties in sleeping
  • Sudden changes in diet
  • Digestive or stomach issue
  • Excessive swearing

Treating Subconscious Anxiety

Identifying and treating subconscious anxiety can be tricky because the symptoms mentioned above can be linked to various conditions apart from anxiety, including potential side effects of medications. This often leads to valuable time and resources being spent exploring alternative diagnoses. However, a combination of psychotherapy, medications, and other self-help exercises used to treat other forms of anxiety is effective in treating subconscious anxiety.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of subconscious anxiety is an important step in it’s treatment. If you see yourself struggling with the symptoms mentioned above, it is advisable to reach out to a mental health professional at the earliest.


  1. Can I Be Anxious in My Subconscious? (2014, November 11). Psych Central.
  2. Subconscious Anxiety: Could You Be Anxious Without Knowing It? (2022, November 17). Exploring Your Mind.
  3. Subconscious Anxiety: What It Is and How to Recognize It. (2021, April 26). Healthline.
  4. What is Subconscious Anxiety | Dr. Nicholas Samstag. (n.d.). Dr. Nicholas Samstag. Retrieved November 17, 2023, from

Dhruva Koranne

Dhruva Koranne has completed his Masters in Applied Psychology from Tata Institute of Social Sciences, BALM. He has been practicing as a counsellor since 2020 and works to create a safe space for clients where they can open up. In addition to this, Dhruva loves researching and studying about upcoming theories in the field of Psychology. Connect with him on Linkedin