Situational Anxiety: How To Manage Situational Anxiety Effectively?

Last Update on August 28, 2023 : Published on August 26, 2023
What is Situational Anxiety

I have a fear of public speaking but I am really good at brainstorming ideas. The idea of speaking publicly makes me anxious. Like, I can discuss ideas effectively in front of the people I know, but when someone from a higher authority or partners come-in, the presentation becomes messier.

What do we call this type of anxiety? In psychology, we refer to this specific response of anxiety as situational anxiety. In this blog, let us find out what is situational anxiety, its signs, and how to manage it.

So, let’s get started!

What is Situational Anxiety?

Situational anxiety is a type of anxiety that occurs in a specific situation. Situational anxiety is one of the commonly experienced types of anxiety and can be normal as anyone can feel anxious in a specific situation such as job interviews, public presentations, first day at school, first dates, and more.

When confronted with a specific event or situation of anxiety, people can feel nervous, stressed, or uncomfortable. As of now, situational anxiety is not a part of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorder (DSM-5).

Psychologists state that during diagnosis if the symptoms do not meet the criteria of situational anxiety, they might meet the criteria for specific phobias which is another type of anxiety disorder.

Here are some examples of Situational Anxiety:

  • People with little anxiety might fear speaking in public places.
  • One of the common examples of situational anxiety is job interviews wherein people might experience anxiety due to performance ratings.
  • For some people, meeting new people or going on dates with strangers might trigger anxiety even when the stranger is trying to make them comfortable.
  • People might fear traveling alone to a new city or place, this type of anxiety is referred to as travel anxiety.

Differences Between Generalized Anxiety and Situational Anxiety

Below are some of the common differences between generalized anxiety and situational anxiety.

Generalized anxiety Situational anxiety
Generalized anxiety is a type of chronic anxiety with a chronic set of symptoms of anxiety that are not limited to a specific event or situation. Situational anxiety happens when someone experiences some or all symptoms of anxiety in a specific situation.
Irritation, fatigue, edginess, and sleeping issues are some of the common symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. Difficulty concentrating, dizziness, nervousness, and restlessness are some of the common symptoms of situational anxiety.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is part of the DSM-5. Situational anxiety is not considered an official anxiety disorder.
The common fact of people struggling with generalized anxiety is that they don’t know how to stop the worry cycle. The thought of fear or something may go wrong mostly triggers situational anxiety.
Generalized anxiety is one of the commonly experienced anxiety disorders and in order to be diagnosed with this type of anxiety disorder, an individual must be experiencing symptoms for more than six months as outlined by the DSM-5. Situational anxiety is one of the most commonly experienced mental health issues.

Signs of Situational Anxiety

Below listed are some of the common signs of situational anxiety:

    • Chest pressure
    • Dizziness
    • Dry mouth
    • Edginess
    • Excessive sweating
    • Headache or stomach ache
    • Impending doom
    • Irritability
    • Lack of concentration
    • Light-headedness
    • Loose stools or diarrhea
    • Muscle tension
    • Nausea
    • Negative thoughts
    • Nervousness
    • Rapid breathing or increased heart rate
    • Restlessness, shaking or trembling
    • Slight changes in visual presentation

Causes of Situational Anxiety

Below listed are some of the common causes of situational anxiety:

  • Stress: Stress can be one of the common factors behind the development of situational stress. When we experience stress a lot, we might start developing fear or phobia related to a specific event, situation, object, or anything.
  • Genetics: Having a family member with a history of anxiety or other mental health disorders puts us at risk of developing anxiety. Research shows that genetics make people more sensitive to anxious situations.
  • Brain chemistry changes: Chemical imbalances in the brain can also cause anxiety. Due to chemical changes or imbalances in the brain, a person might be at risk of developing anxiety disorders or other common mental health conditions.
  • Trauma: A history of abuse, neglect, or assault also puts people at risk of developing anxiety disorders.
  • Medical conditions: Some chronic medical conditions like diabetes, asthma, or cancer also increase the chance of developing anxiety.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Situational Anxiety

Situational anxiety is a common type of anxiety that can be effectively managed by self-help techniques, but in cases of extreme anxiety or chronic anxiety followed by excessive and pertaining symptoms, you can always connect with a mental health professional for a proper diagnosis.

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As per the needs and severity of anxiety, the mental health professional is likely to prescribe:


Mental health professionals generally prescribe medications for treating specific symptoms. Below listed are some of the common and best medications for situational anxiety:

    • Benzodiazepines
    • Benzodiazepines
    • Beta-blockers
    • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
    • Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
    • Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
    • Tricyclic antidepressants


Psychotherapy is known to be an effective treatment option for anxiety. Below listed are some of the effective and best psychotherapy options for situational anxiety:

1. Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT): ACT helps in focusing on accepting challenging emotions and committing to positive changes. ACT can be helpful to people with situational anxiety as it mentally prepares them to accept the conditions.

2. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is one of the commonly used therapies which helps in replacing negative thoughts with positive ones. CBT is an effective therapy option for treating anxiety disorders, social anxiety, and more.

3. Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): DBT is a type of CBT that is more focused on teaching healthy coping skills, especially for those who are not able to regulate their emotions.

4. Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR): EMDR therapy uses eye movements for processing the fear and healing the trauma induced by it. It can be really helpful for people with PTSD.

5. Exposure therapy: Exposure therapy is a form of CBT that means exposing yourself to the source of fear. This therapy is really effective in decreasing your anxiety induced by specific fears or phobias.

How to Manage Situational Anxiety?

Here are some quick self-help tips to manage situational anxiety:

  1. Mentally and physically prepare yourself for challenging situations.
  2. Expose yourself to challenging situations.
  3. Challenge your negative thoughts and practice affirmations for anxiety.
  4. Take the help of relaxation techniques.
  5. Take a mindful pause and prepare yourself.
  6. Look from the positive side and convert the challenging situations into learnings.
  7. Seek the support of a loved one and openly communicate your feelings so that they can motivate you.
  8. Stick to a healthy eating and sleeping routine to prepare yourself mentally and physically.

I hope this blog helps you understand everything you need to know about Situational anxiety.

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Thanks for reading!

About The Author

Aayushi Kapoor
Aayushi Kapoor

Aayushi is a Content Creator at Calm Sage. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Food Technology and a Master's Degree in Clinical Nutrition. Her constant interest in the improvement of mental health, nutrition, and overall wellness embarked upon her career as a “full-time educational writer.” She likes to make an asynchronous connection with her readers. Her mantra for living life is "What you seek is seeking you".

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