Anxiety and Fear
Anxiety and fear are two different emotional states.
Anxiety is future-oriented. Fear is present-oriented.
Both responses are designed to help us do one thing: survive! The will to survive motivates us to avoid or withdraw from situations. Both responses derive from something our primitive ancestors developed called: the fight-or-flight response.
Fear is something even our ancestors experienced when confronted with a saber tooth cats.
Fear signals us for immediate fight or flight. It’s an abrupt activation of the sympathetic nervous system.
Anxiety is something our ancestors experienced when anticipating the arrival of the saber tooth cat. She’s could be right around the corner! Or an giant eagle might lurk somewhere, waiting to take away our children. Life is filled with uncertainty!
Anxiety has a more complex physiological activation than fear, due to apprehension, tension and over-arousal.
Fear, anxiety, and depression are all interrelated and they play a harmonious role in our survival. Without these responses, we would never be where we are today.
We experience fear as we plummet 18 stories down the roller coaster drop.
We experience anxiety while waiting in line, staring at how big the roller coaster is.
Fight or Flight comes at just the right time, and pumps our blood full of adrenaline. At this point, we have many other hormonal changes to prepare us for fighting or fleeing a dangerous situation. We become more alert, more responsive, and more focused on the danger. Each spray of warm adrenaline makes the nerves in our body shake. Our breath speeds up so that it can pump us full of oxygen, so we have an ample supply to our blood stream. Our pupils dilate to give us clarity and attention. Our legs and arms shake in preparation of a good fight. Our digestion changes because our stomach must donate blood to other ( more important) muscles. We may also have automatic responses such as the need to defecate or vomit. Perhaps this was so that saber tooth tiger found us unappetizing. In addition to escape behavior, we may freeze in terror or stay in bed (as if we are playing possum) so our predators lose interest in us.
Anxiety and Fear are Normal Emotional States! However, when symptoms of anxiety or fear become pervasive and persistent, they cause significant impairment and distress. We call these experiences: anxiety disorders. Anxiety Disorders involve many avoidance and escapist tendencies. This can interfere with daily functioning.
If we have low self-trust, many things in our environment and in our own mind become threatening. Not unlike an immune response, our fight or flight response will kick in during many times of perceived stress.
My audio program talks all about this process, and what you can do to take back your right to relaxation, peaceful thoughts, and peace of mind. Click here for more information.
Check with a Medical Doctor to Rule Out Physical Causes
If you are experiencing anxiety or depression, first check with your doctor to rule out any physical or medical causes.
Physical causes of anxiety can occur after a surgery, they can occur after discontinuation of medications or tranquilizers, with heart conditions, intoxication, overdose of medication, after an accident, trauma, and through foods or drinks with high sugar or caffeine.
Physical causes of anxiety, however, are temporary. They should go away shortly after the physical causes have been resolved.
If the anxiety still persists, other factors may be involved.
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