What is Anxiety?

Are you wanting to understand anxiety and anxiety disorders? If so, you have come to the right place. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines anxiety as "fear or nervousness about what might happen".

Anxiety is not a disease, a biological or genetic disorder. Neither is it a mental illness. Anxiety is a completely normal emotional result of thinking and behaving in a fearful way. If particular patterns of behaviours are repeated and become problematic then a person may be considered to be experiencing an anxiety disorder.

When we worry, we trigger the fight or flight response (See Figure below), our innate survival mechanism. The fight or flight/stress response will be triggered by a real threat such as a car coming towards you at 100 kph, or an imagined threat such as anticipating that an upcoming speech that you need to give will go badly. This will leave a person with feelings of anxiety.

Fight or Flight Response
Fight or Flight Response

The Autonomic Nervous System 

The autonomic nervous system (ANS), specifically the sympathetic nervous system (SNS) and the parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) works together in order to achieve an internal homeostatic environment. The sympathetic nervous system’s main role is to trigger the fight or flight/stress response. The parasympathetic nervous system’s main role is to promote rest and relaxation. When a stress response has ended the parasympathetic nervous system will help you to calm down from the stress response, bringing about a balanced internal state (homeostatic equilibrium). When one system (PNS/SNS) is activated, the other become suppressed. The problem is that many anxiety sufferers have learnt too many behaviours that engage the SNS and not enough behaviours that engage the PNS. Therefore, the PNS does not have sufficient time to adequately promote the rest and relaxation response because of the fight or flight response constantly firing off.


Human Nervous System
Human Nervous System

Common Anxiety Symptoms

People experiencing anxiety commonly experience anxiety symptoms. Many people feel overwhelmed and struggle to make sense of their experience. Below are some common anxiety symptoms:

  • Frequent urination
  • A Churning stomach
  • Shaking
  • Turning red in the face
  • Feeling like crying for no reason
  • Always rushing
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Brain fog
  • “Crazy” thoughts
  • Chest pain
  • Hyperventilating
  • Heart palpitations

The list of possible anxiety symptoms are almost endless. People may experience one or many symptoms from occasionally to 24/7. Whilst symptoms might feel unpleasant and even ‘scary’, Anxiety Mentor can help you to understand why you are experiencing symptoms and what actions you can take to get your life on track.


Types of Anxiety Disorders

Common anxiety disorders include:

Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Healthy Anxiety

Panic Disorder


Why Do People Continue to Struggle with Anxiety?

For many, people struggle with anxiety disorders for years. There is a myriad of misinformation surrounding anxiety disorder recovery, much of which is perpetuated by health professionals, such as general practitioners / medical doctors. Anxiety disorder recovery is also paradoxical in nature, where our instincts tell us to do the exact things that exacerbate our anxiety and prolong our struggle with it. For example, does trying to get rid of your anxiety make it go away? I am sure you will agree that the answer is ‘no’. Of course, we want the anxiety to ‘go away’ but the way in which we go about it is largely the opposite of what seems logical. For example, anxiety disorder recovery can not be achieved with the aim of ‘getting rid’ of anxiety as the primary focus. The cause of the anxiety is apprehensive behaviours, including worrying, catastrophising, avoidance, and self-doubt. In order for recovery to occur, it is the behaviours that need to be addressed. Trying to eliminate the anxiety without addressing the behaviours that cause anxiety is like expecting to be in good shape without addressing your diet or exercise routine. It's a cause and effect relationship. Behaviours are the cause and anxiety is the effect.

Anxiety Mentor will help you to understand how anxiety works and will have you looking at anxiety from an entirely different perspective. Anxiety Mentor will provide you with empathy, support, and the tools you need to live life to the fullest. We work with you to support you in achieving your goals and living your life in accordance with your values. We understand anxiety disorders, as we have recovered from them, and we understand how to help people get back to living their lives. Our approach is both straightforward and practical. Why not schedule a private consultation today?

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