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  • Gina Metroff, MC, LPC, LISAC, MAC

Anxiety: The Brain's Danger Signal

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear - not absence of fear. - Mark Twain

Anxiety alerts us to potential dangers in our environment and impels us to take action. Anxiety and fear are essential to survival and all people experience anxiety. Anxiety is an emotion, and like all emotions, it has three components: biological (physical response), cognitive (thoughts and perceptions), and behavioral (actions). When your brain perceives a threat it sends your body into action - Run! That big bear is going to eat you! or Attack first - kill the bear! This early warning system alerts us that something may be wrong, not that something is wrong. The bear may be a stuffed animal or a shadow and not attacking you at all.

The difficulty arises when anxiety is triggered several times a day - this is when is can wreak havoc. Small annoyances can be perceived as big threats and these high levels of arousal can bring on headaches, stomach aches, and even panic attacks.

Become aware of how you respond to anxiety - begin to monitor it - what are the common triggers? What physical symptoms do you experience? How does it affect your behavior?

The next step is to get control of the anxiety and not allow it to control you. What do you fear will happen? How likely is it that this will actually happen? What if it does? What's the worst that could happen? Will you die? No one has ever died from anxiety! Take some deep breaths and relax.

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