Anxiety is in its foundation the same emotion as fear. With the small difference that the source of danger is in this case not or sorely identifiable. The link between the threat and the anxiety is uncertain, overrated or completely irrational. It is an alarm reaction in the absence of any imminent danger.
On these points, there was little controversy.
In front of an assault or trauma or a disaster, it can be observed in any animals, including humans, three types of reactions: attack, escape and daze (or dread). There are a fourth known as the “flight-ahead” more specific to humans but that concept is currently of limited interest.
These are instinctive reactions and trigger when a certain level of fear is felt. The emergence of this feeling changes our physiology in a defensive way. A substantial increase of oxygen caused by a faster ventilation and a more important blood flow due to increased heart rate will allow our muscles to function with sufficient strength and readiness to flee from an earthquake or a predator.
But with anxiety, we have seen, there is no defined danger! So what’s going on?
We can observe the same manifestations. But, first, the attack behavior is impossible, what or who to attack? Then, only the flight and the daze are possible. It’s actually already the type of behavior and resentment in reported cases of panic attacks, anxiety attacks or agoraphobia.
On the other hand, if there is a general psychological principle, it is that the human being poorly accommodates the lack of benchmarks. Whether these are in addition positive or negative. The failure to identify a hazard in case of alarm sets off all “adaptation’s engines” of our being.
It is the nervous bustle capable of the best and the worst. The upper cortex analyzes, searches, reflects, selects, sends signals in all directions. All our senses come alive!
If this situation continues, it happens that, although the mechanism is poorly understood, the body eventually considers an internal cause is the cause of the alert. And this cause is most often identified as the fear itself!
A vicious circle is established then and is called “fear of fear” and then dealing with anxiety is not simple!
Now, this simple emotion is likely to generate, repeatedly, events which of course does nothing else than fuelling it, which can lead to anxiety attacks or panic attacks.
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