February 15, 2023

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is caused by our natural fight or flight response, which is part of our survival instinct.

Written by

Nicole Biggs

I am seeing more and people with anxiety issues and this is becoming a real issue. However, many people do not know what anxiety actually is.

Anxiety is our natural fight or flight response, which is part of our survival instinct. All animals have a survival instinct; a powerful drive to stay alive and do whatever we can to ensure our survival.

This instinctual response is controlled by our ‘reptilian brain’ or amygdala. This is the area of the brain, which is the first to develop in an embryo, and was the first part to evolve. It is primitive and can often defy logic. 

When we are met with a threat, we have to decide how to react. This is when our fight or flight response kicks in. We have a decision to make, we can:

  1. Turn to others around us for support and guidance;
  2. Fight and resist the threat; 
  3. Run away from the treat;
  4. Freeze and hope that the threat goes away and doesn’t harm us; 
  5. make friends with the threat to try and neutralise the threat; or 
  6. realise that it is not a threat, reassure ourselves that we are safe, and get on with our daily lives. 

This decision is made in a split second by our subconscious.

When our fight or flight response is triggered, we; 

  1. Tense our muscles, so that we are ready to run away or fight. 
  2. Our breathing gets quicker and shallower, and our heart rate increases, so that we get more oxygen to our brain and muscles. 
  3. Our digestive system is switched off and blood is diverted to our brain and muscles. 
  4. Adrenalin and cortisol are released into our body to give our muscles and brain a boost. 
  5. Our brain is flooded with adrenalin and cortisol and so works quicker, and our thoughts race. 
  6. We start ‘what if…?’ thinking; what if that car doesn’t stop in time and hits me, what if my boss doesn’t like the way I did that task and says I’m no good at my job and I get fired, what if Johnnie’s asthma flares up again and he has to go to hospital? What if …..????

These are all automatic responses, over which we have no control.

The signs of an anxiety attack therefore include;

  • aches in our muscles,
  • shortness of breath,
  • headache,
  • heart racing,
  • thoughts racing,
  • sickness or funny feelings in our tummies,
  • a funny taste in our mouth,
  • scratchiness in our throats, and
  • tingling in our hands and feet.

Everyone’s response is different, and I would highly recommend that you work out what your signs that you are getting anxious are. 

For more information, or just a chat, please contact me on 07742 209312 or nicole@greenoaktherapies.co.uk

Other Articles

New 10 Week Hypnotherapy Weight Loss Course

Starting soon