Decoding Anxiety: 3 Reasons why anxious people appear annoying or rude

Feb 28, 2024Anxiety, Information

Decoding Anxiety: 3 Reasons why anxious people appear annoying or rude

Have you ever noticed how anxious people can come across as annoying and rude at times?

Sometimes, when people are suffering from anxiety issues, they don’t always mix well with others and struggle to integrate with groups of people, especially if they don’t know those people.

In my hypnotherapy and counselling business based in Bournemouth, I have found that there are often relationship problems associated with anxiety that the client is often not aware of, and others think that the behaviour is unacceptable.

Today, I would like to give you three reasons why anxious people might behave this way so you can help them, but first, let’s talk about what anxiety is.

What is anxiety?

The American Psychological Association provides a good definition of anxiety:

‘Anxiety is an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts, and physical changes like increased blood pressure.

Anxiety is not the same as fear, but they are often used interchangeably. Anxiety is considered a future-oriented, long-acting response broadly focused on a diffuse threat, whereas fear is an appropriate, present-oriented, and short-lived response to a clearly identifiable and specific threat.’

Sometimes, we all need to be anxious because it’s part of our survival system when we are threatened. Unfortunately, it can kick into gear when there is a perceived threat rather than an actual threat, and if it continues for many months, it becomes a medical condition and an anxiety disorder.

Types of anxiety disorders

When people talk about anxiety disorders, they are referring to a medical diagnosis of anxiety that is confirmed by symptoms in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, version 5.

Types of anxiety include:

  • Social anxiety
  • Phobias
  • General Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
  • Panic disorder
  • Agoraphobia
  • Separation anxiety
  • Perinatal, antenatal and postnatal anxiety
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive, Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Health anxiety

Anxiety UK also states hoarding, anticipatory anxiety, Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD), depersonalisation disorder, compulsive skin picking, and several specific anxiety phobias are also types of anxiety.

Other conditions can contribute to secondary anxiety, such as:

  • Bereavement and loss
  • Medical conditions
  • Some medications
  • Stress
  • Depression

However, different types of anxiety present in different ways. A doctor should always check a person with anxiety, and they are the ones to make the diagnosis.

How do anxious people feel?

There is a wide range of anxiety disorders, so everyone feels different, but there are some common threads found with anxious people.

  • Nervous
  • Unable to relax
  • Irritable
  • Tense
  • They get ‘brain fog’ and find it difficult to concentrate.
  • Fearing the worst
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Bodily problems such as trembling, sweating or shaking

Why do anxious people annoy me?

Often, the problem is that they are not communicating effectively or they do things that you don’t like, for example, avoiding situations.

This could mean an anxious person might change appointments at the last minute or not turn up. They might give you pathetic excuses or cancel because of niggling health problems such as a headache, feeling too tired or have a stomach upset. These issues are real for the person, so they should be acknowledged, and you should empathise with them.

On the other hand, you allow other people to annoy you. Are you also feeling stressed or anxious?

1. Anxious people may struggle to have a conversation with you.

Have you ever met someone new to work and struggling to know what to say? They could be feeling anxious. Their voice might be quiet, high-pitched, or shaky. Anxious people have difficulty focusing on one thing because their minds are racing with different thoughts, and many are negative. They might think that you are judging them, or they may believe that they don’t have anything interesting to say. This means that they find it hard to make new friends.

In jobs where they are required to speak in a group or do a presentation, you might notice their anxiety increasing.

This behaviour is related to the adrenaline levels in their body. They are trying to assess all the threats around them and focus more on their negative thoughts and feelings rather than on other people.

People with Generalised Anxiety Disorder do this most of the time, but they don’t know why they do it. They continually feel threatened by something.

2. Anxious people may lack eye contact.

Perhaps you are talking to an anxious person, and they are looking away. You might feel frustrated because you think that they aren’t listening. This gets you annoyed, and you think that they are rude.

But try to empathise for a few moments. This person may be feeling awkward and judged. They may be worried about what they can say to you. Or if you are their boss, they might fear you.

Looking away may be one of their coping mechanisms.

3. Anxious people appear agitated or on edge.

Perhaps you are trying to talk to this person, and they are fiddling with something that annoys you. Their focus seems to be on an object, not you, so it appears rude.

This behaviour may be due to their body being on high alert or simply because they are worrying and not sleeping well.

Remember cultural issues

Anxiety will be expressed in different ways. It’s not always a mental disorder because anxiety can be a normal response to a stressful situation. If you are not a doctor, you can’t be certain that what you are experiencing is anxiety in the other person. Remember, cultural backgrounds and other conditions can result in different behaviours, so don’t jump to conclusions with a person who seems anxious.

How you can help an anxious person

  • Empathise not criticise
  • Try to understand how anxiety affects people.
  • Speak clearly and check that the person has understood, especially if it is a work-related task.
  • Suggest getting training if it is a work-related issue that increases the anxiety.
  • Ask them if there is anything you can do to help.
  • Suggest getting a health check-up.
  • Suggest other help like a counsellor, psychotherapist, psychologist or hypnotherapist.
  • Learn how to stop others’ behaviour from annoying you.


I specialise in helping people with stress and anxiety issues. If you or the person who feels anxious needs help, please contact me for a free initial consultation to find out more.



Awaken the Change is about Focusing Minds for Positive Results

Awaken the Change is a self-help service providing education and information.

Linda sees clients at her practice in Bournemouth, in the UK. She is also happy to provide online help via webcam for hypnotherapy, counselling and supervision. Counselling and supervision can also be provided by telephone.

Linda is an accredited trainer and supervisor.

Linda Witchell
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