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Anxiety

Anxiety and so called anxiety disorders are incredibly common. It is said that One in Three people experience at least one anxiety disorder over the course of their lifetime. And more often than not, someone that suffers from one disorder will go on to suffer from more than one!

'FEELING' anxious when we encounter new situations is exactly how our body and mind is designed. We have a perfect heightened radar system keeping us safe from danger. In these instances, we call it a 'sense'.

However, 'BEING' anxious is very different and is probably why you are here reading this page now. You know, like I do, that 'being' in a constant anxious state of hyperarousal is exhausting... and sometimes in its extreme, can be very debilitating. Some of us have an extreme panic attack which has the possibility to leave us broken like a crumbled overwhelmed wreck! We then pile more anxiety on top of ourselves as we worry if we will ever return to be the same person again??...and the consequences for our relationships is not great either. This constant and relentless feeling becomes a suffocating vortex that drags us down with anxious thoughts.

Most anxiety is not actually a disorder at all — anxiety is just fear about something that is yet to come. Fear is adaptive; it is what tells us to run away from the bad guy, to stay out of oncoming traffic or to step back from the mountain edge. While fear is what we experience in these moments, anxiety is more anticipatory — it is  the uneasy apprehension felt ahead of time called worry.

Evolutionarily speaking, it can be helpful to expect and prepare for something bad that is on its way, or take steps to avoid a dangerous situation. But our brains have been a long time in the making, and the threats (or perceived threats via thoughts) we experience in the modern world are very different from what our ancestors would have been up against. This leads to a lot of false alarms.  Have our brains evolved as much as the sheer volume of things to think and worry about have evolved?

All anxiety disorders are essentially about an ineffective coping with a fear, especially when the behaviour a person is engaging in to cope (E.g. excess worry, excess safety behaviours, etc) are hurting. What sets the different disorders apart is what that fear stimulus is (a past trauma, a specific phobia, general life) and what the response is (flashbacks, compulsive behaviours, excessive worrying).

Common Anxiety disorders

Anyone who knows me will know that I am not a massive fan of psychological labels.  

And there are quite a few mental health disorders that fall under the greater anxiety umbrella:

  • Phobias
  • Social Anxiety
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder
  • Panic Attacks
  • Agoraphobia
  • Childhood Separation Disorder.

Did you know

Adrenaline is responsible for your body’s ‘fight or flight’ response. It helps you react quickly in a dangerous or stressful situation. Adrenaline is the hormone released when your brain perceives excitement, danger, fear, or a potential threat. You might feel a mix of all of those emotions when doing something scary.  

Anxiety and excitement are both “aroused” emotional experiences and physiologically very similar in our body. If you have ever been the victim of a surprise birthday party, then you will have experienced both anxiety and excitement within seconds. 

Research has proven that some anxiety is good. Indeed, the 'right' amount of anxiety can literally motivate effort and increase focus.

Whereas, too much anxiety drains our working memory, dramatically reduces our ability to process information, lowers our self confidence and increases our risk aversion.

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