Updated: Jun 6
One thing that’s really important to understand about all anxiety disorders, no matter what you suffer from: OCD, agoraphobia, Post traumatic stress disorder, eco anxiety, health anxiety, social anxiety, phobias, general anxiety disorder, Pure O etc. they all start with fear.
Fear is a very physical reaction to something that you have seen, heard or thought. You may have seen a car driving up on the pavement next to you. That would cause anybody to be frightened.
“Oh my god is it going to hit me? I better run as fast as I can the opposite direction.”
You may hear scream from someone close by. That would trigger a frightened reaction.
“What the hell was that? What’s going on?”
How about the thought of doing a presentation and completely drying up? The fear makes the brain flood the body with stress hormones that will make you react.
If that car is mounting the pavement, you just react you don’t think about it. In fact, you have no control over how you react. Just like when you’ve got a tummy ache, you don’t have the control to fix it. Yes, you can take medication and hope that fixes the problem that you are not fixing the reason why you got tummy ache in the first place.
You don’t have control over your reactions. Usually, people will see that car mount the pavement and then jump out the way. Once the adrenaline has come down, it won’t affect them again. The emergency is over.
Much like when you see two cats fighting, they are screaming and clawing each other but when the fight is over, they slink off, take themselves to a safe place, lick themselves all over and carry on with their day. What they don’t do is re-live the fight, start assessing the risk that the cat might attack them again and play it out in their mind all the ways they must avoid that cat.
But that’s what you do if you have anxiety…you play out over and over again what could happen next time and how bad it could be.
This creates a ‘catastrophising’ mindset and we end up scanning everything for potential threats. Our fear level increases and triggers the fight or flight reaction over and over and over and over again until we are in a state of such high anxiety we’ve lost the ability to think rationally.
Once we are in this state, it’s difficult to find the mental clarity to step out of it.
It's when you have irrational thoughts, believing that something is far worse than it actually is. It can generally can take two different forms: making a catastrophe out of a current situation, and imagining making a catastrophe out of a future situation.
Fear turns into an anxiety disorder if it occurs repeatedly in situations which are not at all dangerous and if the fear is disproportional to the real situation. There is no obvious reason why we suffer from a particular anxiety disorder but the root to all anxiety disorders is equal.
I suffered from severe health anxiety and actually planned my funeral. Why health anxiety and not agoraphobia? I have no idea but there it was! Although, we have many anxiety disorders between us, the roots of all anxiety are the same.
Because anxiety is a result of a response to a frightening thing, it’s very difficult to change that response by talking about it or trying to change your thoughts or taking medication. In fact, what needs to happen is you need to stop talking about it, stop trying to change your thoughts and, in an ideal world, stop taking medication.
Please remember, I am not a doctor. I never proport to have any medical knowledge. I talk from experience and from 30 years of research. I always advise you to seek professional medical help if you need to. Also, if you want to stop taking medication please consult your doctor.
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