At the climax of Pixar’s “Inside Out 2,” Riley, a freshly pubescent teen with a gaggle of new personified emotions, becomes so overwhelmed with anxiety that she has a panic attack.

In the theater, I whispered to my friend that I’d forgotten to bring my panic attack medication. I’d said it as a joke — but at the sight of this anxious animated teenager, my whole body’s choreography changed. My muscles tensed. I pressed my right palm down hard to my chest and took a few deep yoga breaths, trying to cut off the familiar beginnings of an attack.

This depiction of how quickly anxiety can take hold was overwhelming. I saw my own experiences reflected in Riley’s. “Inside Out 2” felt personal to me in a way that was equally cathartic and devastating: It’s a movie that so intimately understands how my anxiety disorder upends my everyday life.

“Inside Out 2” picks up two years after the 2015 film “Inside Out,” as Riley is about to start high school. With puberty comes a group of new emotions, led by Anxiety. A manic orange sprite voiced by Maya Hawke, Anxiety bumps out the old emotions and inadvertently wreaks havoc on Riley’s belief system and self-esteem as she tries to manage the stress of a weekend hockey camp.

When an emotion takes over in the “Inside Out” movies, a control board in Riley’s mind changes to that feeling’s color; Anxiety’s takeover, however, is more absolute. She creates a stronghold in Riley’s imagination, where she forces mind workers to illustrate negative hypothetical scenarios for Riley’s future. Soon, Riley’s chief inner belief is of her inadequacy; the emotions hear “I’m not good enough” as a low, rumbling refrain in her mind.

I’m familiar with anxiety’s hold on the imagination; my mind is always writing the script to the next worst day of my life. It’s already embraced all possibilities of failure. And my anxiety’s ruthless demands for perfection often turn my thoughts into an unrelenting roll-call of self-criticisms and insecurities.

And yet — Anxiety isn’t the villain of this movie.

In fact, I was surprised to empathize with this orange personification of my worst enemy. In a scene late in the movie, Anxiety has completely spun out of control — she’s transformed into a violent whirlwind, but she’s also standing frozen, crying, in the eye of the storm.

I know what it means to feel like you’re moving at two different speeds — when my body feels inert with fear while my thoughts pingpong in every direction, or when my body restlessly shakes and fidgets as my mind is drawn into a quicksand of slowly, steadily descending concerns.

“I don’t know how to stop Anxiety,” a dejected Joy, voiced by Amy Poehler, says at one point in the movie. “Maybe that’s what happens when you grow up — you feel less joy.”

Joy’s words decimated me. For years my therapist has warned me against allowing my anxiety to steal my capacity for joy. I’m infamous for letting hypothetical losses and mishaps suck the air out of me — times when the smallest thing sends me hyperventilating into an office bathroom stall or retreating into myself, like Riley in the penalty box during her hockey game.

I wondered whether Joy’s statement meant that for an adult with a chronic anxiety disorder, happiness is that much further out of reach. If Riley is experiencing anxiety for the first time, centered around this specific situation, then what does that mean for a person like me, whose anxiety has been a loud and loyal companion, in some form, for almost as long as I can remember?

Riley gets an ending where her Anxiety is delicately coaxed to the side. Joy recovers the controls from Anxiety and comforts her. Later, in a stressful moment, Anxiety pipes up to offer her concerns, and Joy thanks her while sitting her down in a cozy recliner with a cup of tea.

I didn’t have a word for my anxiety when I was younger, and wasn’t diagnosed with an anxiety disorder until my 20s. So in watching “Inside Out 2,” I wondered whether the film was speaking chiefly to an older demographic — teens and adults who have already found themselves trapped in anxiety’s domain, who have experienced adulthood as a time given more to worry than to joy.

Perhaps “Inside Out 2” is providing children with a peek into the future, not as a prophecy of doom but as a route to understanding an emotion that has become more recognizable and prevalent in people of all ages.

Maybe the upshot is that when young “Inside Out” fans inevitably become caught in one of those brutal storms of anxious thoughts, they can then summon a clear image of the chaos of their mind, as though it’s a bright, colorful Pixar film. Maybe then they can recognize that orange bearer of dreadful tidings and gently guide her to a seat.

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