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What is Anxiety?

Very often when something happens that we don’t like or when we think about how things may go wrong with an upcoming event, a personal performance, or an uncertain outcome we may experience anxiety. Our bodies might tense up, we may start shallow breathing, experience rapid heart rate, begin to perspire or feel any number of other body sensations.

This happens because we were designed with a fight/flight/or freeze response that’s built in to protect us from danger or threats. And when this system is triggered adrenalin gets released into our system to help us move faster, escape, fight more fiercely, or freeze in an attempt to avoid danger.

But here’s where it gets tricky: Our system doesn’t know the difference between a realthreat and an imagined one. Or said another way, fear is the response to a real danger. Anxiety is a response to an imagined danger. And the adrenalin flows either way.

When you’re worried about driving on the freeway because you’re afraid you’ll have a panic attack, afraid to go on vacation for fear of leaving your pets and what might happen to them, terrified to speak up in a meeting or a class for fear you’ll sound foolish, worried about what others might think of the way you dress, talk, or how you are as a person, you’re activating your nervous system to respond to these imagined fears as though they’re imminent danger.

And it will obey.

When anxiety gets in the way of your ability to function in a personal or work situation you may have an anxiety disorder which can be treated.

AHLways consider: How we think about events and what we tell ourselves about events will determine how our bodies react and how much anxiety we’ll feel.

Do you think you have anxiety? Please leave your questions or comments below.

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Pat Ahl, LPCC, NCC, LLC 2018