Irrational Anxiety: Four Ways To Manage Baseless Fears

Updated May 15, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

It is common to experience feelings of nervousness or anxiety before a stressful event such as an exam, job interview, or giving a speech. Anxiety is not in itself negative; it can be beneficial in some cases, as it can motivate us to be adequately prepared and remain alert to potential danger in our surroundings. However, feelings of fear and anxiety that are ongoing, excessive, and interfere with daily functioning may indicate the presence of an anxiety disorder. Throughout this article, we will explore what irrational anxiety might look like and strategies for coping.

What is irrational anxiety?

Do you feel lost as to how to handle your irrational anxiety?

Individuals with anxiety disorders may feel that their anxiety is irrational or not rooted in logical reasoning. It is common for people living with anxiety to experience regular feelings of tension or “impending doom,” as some describe it, that are not tied to a certain cause. They may feel ongoing worry or tension that cannot be explained or connected with a specific stressor.

It is common for individuals with anxiety disorders to exhibit thought patterns known as cognitive distortions. These thinking styles (such as black and white thinking, mental filtering, catastrophizing, and mind-reading) can cause an individual to view an event through a skewed lens. Due to these distorted ways of thinking, an individual with anxiety may routinely overemphasize the negative, assume the worst-case scenario or jump to conclusions about a situation. Distorted thinking can produce feelings of intense fear and stress that are not rooted in the reality of a situation.

Specific phobia and irrational anxiety

Another way irrational anxiety might present is through a type of anxiety disorder known as a specific phobia. An individual living with a specific phobia experiences intense fear about a certain object or situation that poses minimal danger. Examples of specific phobias include animals (snakes, spiders, or dogs), flying, heights, blood, vomiting, and so on.

Although a person with a phobia can generally acknowledge that their irrational fears likely won’t cause them harm, it does not stop feelings of anxiety from being potentially overwhelming and distressing. An individual living with a specific phobia often go to extreme lengths to avoid what they fear, which may disrupt their daily lives. If they encounter their feared object or situation, they may experience extreme distress; in some cases, it may trigger a panic attack. Living with a phobia is one way in which irrational fear can cause significant disturbance in an individual’s life.

Coping with irrational anxiety


Suppose you are experiencing difficulties in daily functioning due to anxiety or feel that you are displaying signs of a specific phobia. In that case, it is important to reach out for professional support. A mental health professional can help you clarify what you are experiencing and determine a plan moving forward. Anxiety disorders are typically treated with psychotherapy, medication, or a combination of both.

Individuals with a specific phobia may benefit from a type of treatment called exposure therapy. As avoiding a certain object or situation can intensify fear, individuals may benefit from confronting their fear in a safe environment gradually. Exposure therapy aims to help a person habituate themselves to encountering what they fear over time and, therefore, decrease their level of distress around it. Through exposure therapy, a person can also learn that they can tolerate and work through feelings of anxiety and discomfort.

In addition to professional treatment, you might also engage in at-home coping strategies that can help you manage when you are experiencing overwhelming anxiety. One strategy that can be helpful in learning is to identify cognitive distortions. Being able to take a step back and recognize when you may be engaging in catastrophic thinking, for example, can help you re-center and challenge irrational thoughts with the reality of the situation. We cannot predict the outcome in most situations, but it’s unlikely to be the worst-case scenario you might envision in your head.

Do you feel lost as to how to handle your irrational anxiety?

In addition to challenging unhelpful thoughts, you may benefit from adopting relaxation techniques such as deep breathing or meditation for times in which your anxiety levels are high. Finding a calming activity that grounds you can also help cope with anxiety, whether spending time with a pet, reading a book, listening to music, or going for a walk.

It can also be beneficial to seek support from others who can help you to challenge irrational thoughts. When you are experiencing anxiety, you might reach out to a trusted friend or family who could help to “reality check’” irrational thoughts against the facts of the situation. Working with a therapist can also help you address unhelpful thought patterns that may contribute to your anxiety. Through the online counseling platform Regain, you can connect with a licensed therapist from the comfort of your own home. This can be an important first step towards addressing irrational anxiety and improving your mental health and quality of life.

Online support for working through irrational anxiety

Irrational anxiety can have profound impacts on quality of life, physical and mental health, and overall wellbeing. A variety of approaches can help one to work through anxiety, including therapy. Online therapy with Regain is convenient, allowing you to hold sessions anywhere you have an internet connection, with many of our therapists able to operate outside of traditional working hours, too. 

Recent meta-analyses sought to compare in-person therapy for anxiety to online therapy for anxiety treatment. According to one such meta-analysis, “Online delivery has numerous advantages for clinicians and patients, including greater reachability, anonymity, convenience and cost-effectiveness.” Additionally, they found internet-based anxiety treatments and interventions to be comparable in efficacy to in-person treatments.


If you are experiencing anxiety or an anxiety disorder that is getting in the way of your life, consider reaching out to Regain for help.

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