Anxiety disorders continue to be the most common issues that missionaries struggle with during their mission. Fortunately anxiety disorders are usually quite treatable. A significant part of that treatment is early recognition and treatment of the anxiety. What follows is a brief description of some of the most common conditions.


In general, anxiety is a feeling of worry, fear, nervousness, or stress. Anxiety is a normal response to a new or different situation. Anxiety helps as we adapt to a new event in a way that maximizes our success and safety in that new situation. Anxiety helps us to learn and readjust with success and safety through periods of our lives. Everyone will experience this emotion.


Missionaries will experience anxiety while on their missions and most will overcome the feelings. However, for some, anxiety becomes the master. It ceases to be productive, but instead is destructive. This often occurs to missionaries who have previously had bad experiences with anxiety. Anxiety, which was once helpful, now becomes so intense that it becomes a big problem. When anxiety is this strong, it tends to preoccupy or distract us.


Depression can cause anxiety.   Overwhelming feelings of anxiety can occur as you become aware of how the depression is stripping you of your ability to successfully perform your daily tasks.   Furthermore, some kinds of depression are ravaged by continual intense feelings of anxiety. These kinds of depression are termed “anxious depressions.” Anxious depressions are common. A red flag should go up when this type of depression is occurring. This is because the extreme levels of anxiety accompanying this kind of depression are difficult to bear.


Anxiety can be a self-reinforcing event. The desire to relieve anxiety can itself become a source of stress, often worsening the emotional burden. Simply talking through the anxiety with your mission president or writing to your family can often make a big difference. However, attempting to deal with these problems alone sometimes leads to destructive decisions, including even self-harming behaviors. It is of the utmost importance that this situation be recognized and professionally treated. As with most psychological conditions, recognizing anxiety early can help you avoid more difficult problems later. So watch for such behaviors both in yourself and your companion.


Adjusting to a change can generate emotions of anxiety. Such changes include learning a new language, transferring to a new area, leaving home, working with a new companion or coping with a disappointment. Such events may provoke intense anxiety or depression.   This is called an adjustment disorder.




The key to reducing the intensity of your anxiety and depression lies in changing your perspective. It is all about changing your expectations and regaining access to positive support and routines. Other effective methods include talking and writing letters or emails to trusted leaders, friends or family. Reviewing written material that has been approved by your mission president can help as well. Refocusing your efforts in this direction can help you regain your confidence.


Remember, anxiety is a normal part of your life and of your missionary experience. Without anxiety we would miss many of life’s important learning opportunities. Feelings of anxiety do not signal a need to depart from your missionary service, but they do prompt you to act.


The Church has anticipated that you will have many new and different experiences during your mission. Church leaders are mindful of you and have generated resources to assist you in overcoming your anxiety as you strive to fulfill your mission. The principles of obedience to mission rules and reading the mission handbook and written materials (such as Preach My Gospel) will help you overcome anxiety during your mission service.


Simple routines related to personal study, healthy diet and regular correspondence with your family and church leaders will strengthen your emotional and physical health. They will also help you discover and build up your spiritual strength.