Why is anxiety so common and disabling?

Image: Getty Images
Image: Getty Images

“Anxiety is a physical response to perceived threats or threat,” he said. “It comes from the prehistoric part of the brain called the amygdala. Even dinosaurs had an amygdala.

“It is responsible for Fight, Flight or Freeze (think of a deer caught in the headlights). It speaks to three glands in the body, which produce cortisol and noradrenalin. Cortisol and noradrenalin can put the body under a great deal of stress, which actually inhibits protein rebuilding.”

Stephen adds that anxiety can increase heart rate, blood pressure and keep us ready for a fight even when we are exhausted and just want to sleep.

He also notes that long-term anxiety can spiral into depression, and also impacts our appetite and sleep pattern.

“We develop many defence mechanisms against anxiety such as counting or checking things (OCD),” he continued to explain. “Many people use drugs or alcohol to self-medicate against the effects of anxiety as it blocks of the receptors in the brain which keep the anxiety circuits active.

“Anxiety can also call us to take action such as leaving an essay until the last minute so that we perform under pressure.”

Talking to a GP may help, as they may prescribe medication to reduce the physical effects of anxiety, and visiting to a psychotherapist is also a good idea as they can help people understand where the anxiety originates from, therefore allowing sufferers to help deal with the cause of stress and anxiety.

Meditation and exercise are now also recommended to reduce the effects of anxiety and put us in a more relaxed state of being

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