When someone is experiencing anxiety, it shows itself in a number of different ways. There will be physical signs, emotional stresses, mental processes as well as behaviors that can point to anxiety as the cause.

First impressions mean a lot, and the initial judgement can sometimes stick with someone for a long time. Impoliteness can be seen as a flaw.

However, people who have anxiety have different side effects and coping mechanisms that seem off putting to other people. They are not trying to be rude, it’s just a sign of their anxiety disorder.

Take a look at this list and see if you can recognize this in you or people that you know. This might help you to have a better understanding of someone in your life with an anxiety disorder.

Canceling plans

In the moment, someone with anxiety might agree to do something, happily or with reservations. But when the event is approaching, they’ll make excuses not to go and think of all the things that could go wrong. Canceling can provide temporary relief from the potential social anxiety that they might face, but it also can create a cycle which create more anxiety.

Short temper

A person with anxiety might adopt a snappy attitude or even harsh tone in response to someone. They also might have a blow up over something that on the surface seems small, but it might just be the pot boiling over, so to speak. The anxious person knows that it might make them seem inconsiderate, and they don’t mean to be rude. However, anxiety can make someone feel edgy all the time and stressful situations can push them over if they don’t know how to cope.

Interrupting people

Whether they walk right in front of someone to grab something they need or speak in the middle of a flow of a conversations, a person with anxiety can let their impulses get the best of them. At times, it might be because they know they won’t be able to recall what felt important to say in that moment. However, they know that it irritates others and feel remorse after.

Lack of Eye Contact

In some situations, the person with anxiety might not look the person they’re talking to in the eye. This is because they are so caught up in their head that it can feel too intense to look the other person in the eyes. Instead of looking directly at them, they might look at their hands, the ceiling, or the floor. They’re not trying to be rude or rub someone the wrong way.

Using the phone a lot

Someone with anxiety might not know what to do in a group setting. So, they will habitually check their phone or look at it. They know that it isn’t polite, and also don’t appreciate when other people do this around them. The phone can provide temporary relief in an anxious situation.

Make space with people

When someone has anxiety, they might focus more on themselves and less on building relationships. They feel as if being around someone if they’re not 100% can waste their time and be disappointing. Some encouragement can help them step out of their shells.

Avoiding people they know

Seeing someone that they know can produce anxiety in a person. They might avoid the person, but it’s not because they did anything wrong. It’s because of insecurity on the part of the person with anxiety. They don’t want to be perceived in the wrong light or bother others by approaching them.

Sarcasm as a defense

When someone has anxiety, they might begin to build walls or use cutting words. Using sarcasm helps them to avoid criticism or self-doubt by trying to push people away.


  1. “8 ‘Rude’ Things People Do That Are Actually Caused By Anxiety”, Mystical Raven, January 28 2019
  2. “Here’s Why Eye Contact Is So Awkward for Some People”, Christine Ro, The Cut, July 6, 2017
  3. “The Isolating Effects of Anxiety”, Daniel Yudkin, Scientific American, June 16 2015
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