Fear is an emotion that becomes embedded within us as we grow up and is also part of our make up as human beings. However, when worry and fear become irrational to the point where it is debilitating to our lives, then it becomes an obvious symptom related to an anxiety problem.
An anxiety condition usually presents itself with episodes of mild to extreme bouts of unexplainable fear. This is due to the body dealing with doses of adrenaline and cortisol which are usually released at times we’re not expecting. When this is not known and this chemical-induced fear is present, common assumptions can arise such as:
– “Why do I feel this way? I think I may be going insane.”
– “I’ve woken up and still feel this way.”
– “Maybe if I think about it I can reach a miracle thought and it will all go away!”
Unfortunately, we sometimes try to make sense of this fear by attaching our own fabricated reasons and thoughts to it. Mild fears such as going to the shops, or suffering from a persistent headache, become exaggerated fears which can be moulded to explain why we are feeling so anxious. Going to the shops suddenly becomes too dangerous and the headache is suddenly the sign of a brain tumour.
Furthermore, this unexplainable fear has been the reason why so many people have taken unnecessary trips to the emergency department, or rang for the emergency services because they are convinced they’re having a heart attack or that they’re going insane. We try to make sense of the fear by attaching a worst case scenario to explain it.
This fear causes us to take up all sorts of irregular behaviours. This includes pacing around a room, finding it difficult to relax, scanning our body and environment for ‘problems’ and trying to work out why we feel the way we do. The fear can also channel into a person’s fear of panic attacks.
The fear has always been present since the evolution of the anxiety problem, but because the prospect of having a panic attack is so frightening we can become stuck in this loop of peaking anxiety – worrying about having another panic attack. This is another example of applying reasons to attach to the fear as a means of making sense of it.
The intense presence of fear is due to an imbalance within the body and the presence of fear-inducing chemicals such as adrenaline and cortisol. The imbalance occurs as a result of a poor thought routine, which confuses the brain into thinking when and where is the best time to become ready to activate the ‘fight or flight’ response. This would explain why fear can suddenly overwhelm us from nowhere, or that we become unusually fearful of a circumstance that wouldn’t usually warrant such a response.
Fear is one of the main barriers that can hinder a positive change when tackling anxiety. Although I and many other anxiety victims hated feeling anxious on a daily basis; I unfortunately felt a degree of comfort knowing that anxiety was the only constant in my life. I felt that if I tried to change, or do things differently, than I would make my ‘condition’ worse. Take note that this is completely irrational and borders on the absurd. Fear prevents you from doing things that you have learned to be dangerous. Changing who you are – for the better and for a more positive life – is not a dangerous task.
Extracts in this article taken from Anxiety: Panicking about Panic by Joshua Fletcher