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Anxiety and the Amygdala

People with Anxiety tend to have an overly sensitive Amygdala in their brain. The Amygdala is a section of the brain that is responsible for detecting fear and preparing for emergency events. People with Anxiety disorders experience more threat detection by an overactive Amygdala, meaning life seems more hazardous, frightening, and stressful than for people with normal Amygdalas.

Anxiety is also not something that you can think your way out of. The Prefrontal Cortex, or reasoning part of the brain, does not have control over the Amygdala. So, when a person gets anxious about something, trying to reason through their Anxiety with logic will not resolve the anxiety. When Anxiety cannot be resolved, it can build and build until a person experiences a panic attack or mental health crisis.

As with any mental health concern, there is a lot of information out there on the Internet. While education can be helpful, you should not use anything you read to self-diagnosis. If you have a suspicion that you may have anxiety or have questions about your mental health, seek out a qualified, certified, mental health provider who can help answer your questions and concerns. Interestingly, stigmas surrounding mental health are beginning to fade away. While some research has shown people over the age of 26+ tend to see seeking out mental health as a sign of weakness, the younger generation of Adults, less than 25 years of age, sees seeking mental health help as a step of incredible courage and strength.

For some general information:

There are 4 main types or categories of Anxiety.

1. CATASTROPHIC - This type of anxiety is all about believing something really bad is going to happen. An example of this type of anxiety is SEPARATION ANXIETY. It also includes specific fears such as fears of spiders, men with beards, snakes, etc.

2. EVALUATION - This is the most common form of anxiety. People have a fear of being watched, judged, and evaluated by other people around them. We commonly know this as SOCIAL ANXIETY. There is also more and more research indicating connections between social media use and Social Anxiety disorders. This is especially true among teenagers. Many teens with social anxiety disorders are spending 7+ hours a day on screens.

3. LOSING CONTROL - People with PANIC DISORDERS fit into this category. This type of anxiety is brought on by fearing a loss of control in various situations. For some, this includes the outside world and other people in the form of AGORAPHOBIA.

4. UNCERTAINY - Not knowing what is going to happen. This area included generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

So where do all these different types of Anxiety come from?

1. GENETICS. If you have or are a parent with anxiety, your kids will be more likely to experience anxiety. Women are also twice as likely as men to have anxiety disorders.

2. CHEMICALS IN THE BRAIN. Too little serotonin in your brain may be linked to experiences with anxiety. This is also correlative to depression. There may be other chemicals in your brain that are out of balanced.

3. TRAUMA. If you get attacked by a dog when you are a little kid, you may develop anxiety around dogs in the future out of the fear that you'll be attacked. If you experience abuse as a child, you may be being taught to be overly vigilant throughout the rest of your life.

Anxiety is a very real concern affecting 30% of adults in the United States. We have seen in the last 10 years an increase in the prescription of anxiety regulating medications and google searches for help with anxiety. Worldwide, only 10% of people with anxiety disorders seek out professional help. Anxiety seems to be a problem people try to solve on their own.

But, remember, you can't think your way out of anxiety! If you think you may need help with addressing anxiety please seek out a professional mental health counselor.


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