CogniFit's Science blog: Fear And Anxiety Take Over The Brain

Fear And Anxiety Take Over The Brain

Anxiety disorders affect millions of people worldwide and a key to defining treatment for such problems lies within anxiety and fear. The problem is it is not always as simple as identifying fear within each person as the brain is a highly complex matter.

Scientists commonly refer to fear as a negative emotional state that is triggered by some presence of a stimulus that can cause harm and anxiety. This negative emotional state then threatens our livelihood over something that is not even present, but something that could potentially happen.

People always say they are afraid of failing, afraid of heights or afraid of taking the next step in life. In reality, it is anxiety people are feeling as this anxious presence has taken over our mind, body and spirit.

If it sounds the same, it may be because fear and anxiety are more so grey than black and white. A lot of what we fear is brought on by signs, things or signals that are connected with harm rather than actually harming us.

If you read about a bridge collapsing tragically killing a number of drivers, your brain is going to react the next time it comes to drive on a bridge. If someone gets killed in a freak accident by a baseball on the field, you may be afraid to step up to the plate again. This is not because it is harmful, but because your brain triggers the fact that it can potentially harm you.

There is no denying the fact that we are in control to a degree of our brain and what goes on within. We can comprehend what happens within as stimuli present during danger actually becomes memory triggers for that danger. The reason for this is because of the amygdale, which connects the two events and forms an unconscious memory of the association.

From there, the amygdale will become activated when something similar occurs down the road. If you see that baseball coming at your head, you will automatically remember what happened in the accident and fear, worry, and anxiety will be elicited. It is only afterward that we actually realize danger is present.

Anxiety is defined by uncertainty, however it is increased by our ability to picture the future, predict and anxiously away what could happy. Imagination is strong in the human species and it can be two-fold. At times letting our imagination run away from ourselves can be great. But other times, it can get the best of us and that our so powerful brain within will flood the mind and body with fearful thoughts that will more than likely never occur, affecting our mental health.