Free-Floating Anxiety: What Is It and How Can It Be Treated?

September 29, 2022
What is free-floating anxiety
Anxiety Treatment
Free-Floating Anxiety: What Is It and How Can It Be Treated?

Are you constantly worried for no apparent reason? There is a possibility that you are experiencing free-floating anxiety.

Free-floating anxiety refers to anxiety that is not associated with a particular object or a situation. For no obvious reason, you may feel anxious, nervous, and fearful. Predicting or managing these feelings might be challenging since they tend to appear without warning or a specific trigger.

It is significant to highlight that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) does not define free-floating anxiety as a unique mental condition. Instead, it is a term used to describe general and persistent anxiety levels.

Discover what free-floating anxiety is, its symptoms, causes, and treatments. Continue reading!

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What Is Free-floating Anxiety?

According to the definition of APA (American psychological association), a generalized, persistent feeling of unease and anxiety that is not focused on any one circumstance or thing is known as free-floating anxiety. For example, you could still feel anxious even if everything is going smoothly.

This issue is a characteristic sign of a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). However, free-floating anxiety can also strike even if you don’t have GAD or any other mental health condition.

Free-floating anxiety is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • Panic
  • Apprehension
  • Problem concentrating
  • Restlessness
  • Racing thoughts
  • Elevated heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Terrors
  • Constant worry
  • Jitters
  • Tightness in the muscles
  • Negative thoughts
Symptoms of free-floating anxiety disorder

What Causes Free-floating Anxiety?

There is no specific known cause for this anxiety/floating sensation. However, common reasons why a person feels this way are the following.

  • Dysregulation of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that carry signals between neurons, brain cells, and other parts of the body. Anxiety has been associated with neurotransmitter dysregulation, particularly norepinephrine, serotonin, and GABA.
  • Stress. Anxiety can also be exacerbated by ongoing stress. Additionally, stress alters the hormone levels in your body, which in turn might alter how your brain interprets worry and challenging circumstances in general.
  • Genetics. There are several genes that predispose you to anxiety. According to 2017 research, you have a more significant 30% risk of developing GAD if one or both of your parents have it.
  • Brain development. According to a brain imaging study in 2021, persons with GAD often have structural changes in their brains. There may be extremely high densities of neurons in some regions of their brains and low densities in others.
  • Substance abuse and other conditions. A few illnesses that may contribute to anxiety include diabetes, hyperthyroidism, asthma, chronic physical pain, and substance use or alcohol abuse disorders.

How Does It Impact You?

People having free-floating anxiety have a harder time enjoying their lives and experience lower levels of overall life satisfaction and happiness. Mostly, it is because they spend so much time worrying about these general sensations of unease and dread.

The constant sense of anxiety can cause a person to become more stressed, which can have a negative effect on their general health. It might also make it harder for people to get a good night’s sleep, making them feel fatigued and exhausted during the day.

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Coping With Free-floating Anxiety

Even while you might not be able to completely remove anxiety, it is possible to control your worry and quiet worried thoughts through natural ways. You can feel more in control by learning healthy coping mechanisms and putting them into practice. There are things you can do if you feel floaty or have anxiety sensations.

  • Avoid using unhealthy ways to calm your anxiety, such as substance use, smoking, or negative self-talk.
  • Practice mindfulness because it lets you stop worrying about the future and concentrate on the time at hand.
  • Seeking out positive support. When left alone, anxiety can develop. Focus on spending time with individuals who make you feel comfortable and supported, and make an effort to communicate with loved ones frequently.
  • Do exercise regularly. Exercise is a powerful approach to relaxing and getting rid of worry and anxiety-related sensations.
  • Develop relaxing skills. Deep breathing, visualizations, meditation, and other techniques can assist you in stopping worrying and reducing your overall stress.
  • Spend time in nature. Nature promotes happiness and calmness in us. Make a commitment to spending more time outdoors.

Treatment For Free-floating Anxiety

There are many effective ways to treat anxiety. You should seek expert assistance if your symptoms are significantly debilitating and causing you great distress. Your doctor may choose from the following treatment options depending on the nature and severity of your symptoms.


You can tackle your anxious thoughts and behaviors with the aid of therapy. You and your therapist could collaborate to identify various triggers and ways to cope with them. This realization may create fresh opportunities for recovery.

Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is one type of treatment. The main goal of CBT is to assist clients in recognizing the automatic, unfavorable thought patterns that fuel worry. People can then try to change those thought patterns with more beneficial ones when they become aware of these thoughts.

Causes of free-floating anxiety


Anti-anxiety medications, especially when combined with counseling and other behavioral adjustments, can lessen the severity of anxiety symptoms. You should only take these medications under the advice of competent medical doctors.

The following medicines are commonly prescribed for anxiety.

  • Antidepressant medications called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) are sometimes recommended to treat anxiety.
  • Additionally, a prescription for the anxiety drug BuSpar (buspirone) might be issued.
  • Acute anxiety symptoms can occasionally be treated temporarily with benzodiazepines.


People who experience free-floating anxiety may find it upsetting. You don’t have to wait until something becomes intolerably difficult before taking action. Getting in touch with a therapist can significantly improve your mood. For knowledgeable advice, speak with mental health specialists at Mango Clinic.


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