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What You Should Know about Anxiety to Improve Your Life

Anxiety infographic


What You Should Know about Anxiety to Improve Your Life


It is normal to be occasionally anxious. It is as real a feeling as sadness, happiness, and love. It is also a useful response that serves to alert and prepare you for risk or danger. What is unnatural is to be overly and illogically anxious for most hours of the day and for days on end about matters that you have to live with or encounter regularly.

If you or a loved one is manifesting signs and symptoms of extreme fear or worry that is disrupting life, studies, or work, it is best to consult a professional therapist. Anxiety is treatable, yet besides the 40 million American adults diagnosed with it, there are millions more who remain undiagnosed (National Institute of Mental Health). It is helpful to understand anxiety in order to overcome it and improve your life.


Anxiety—What Is It?

Stated simply, anxiety is an intense fear or trepidation that puts your body in a state of alert. It is an internal response to stress. Biologically, it prepares your body for a “fight or flight” response. This means feeling the “adrenaline rush”—fast heartbeat, increased breathing and pulse rate, sweating, etc. 

This is a healthy response when there is real imminent danger. However, if you constantly live with the emotional and physical effects of anxiety and your “fight or flight” response is turned on most of the time, it can be unhealthy for your mind and body. Your immune system can weaken because of anxiety, says Healthline. It can also make you more vulnerable to certain medical conditions, according to Harvard Medical School. When you have an anxiety disorder, you may feel the symptoms of anxiety manifest on their own without any justifiable reason or trigger.


The Brain behind Anxiety


The feelings and the symptoms are not imaginary, but the source of the fear could be. It all starts in the brain, as it responds to the hormones cortisol and norepinephrine. Both are secreted in emergency situations and are meant to boost your reflexes, speed, and perception. These hormones will get more oxygenated blood pumping into your muscles by increasing your heart rate and getting more air into your lungs.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Guide explains the neurological processes taking place in an anxious person’s brain. Two parts of the brain that play significant roles in a number of anxiety disorders are the amygdala and the hippocampus.

  • Amygdala: This is the structure that processes and interprets incoming sensory signals and alerts the brain about the presence of a danger or threat. It is also believed to store emotional memories, which can give rise to specific fears or anxieties.
  • Hippocampus: This is the part of the brain that encrypts frightening experiences into memories. Neurochemical techniques and brain imaging technology have revealed that it is smaller in some people with traumatic pasts. It is still uncertain, though, what role it plays in the fragmented memories of harrowing experiences, deficits in explicit memory, and flashbacks common in PTSD.


Suppressing Anxiety or Negative Thoughts: Why It Won’t Help

Switching off anxiety for good is unrealistic, just as you can’t prevent yourself from getting hungry or thirsty. The ability to feel afraid or anxious is normal and necessary. The important thing is for your brain to be able to distinguish whether the danger is real or unreal.

Stopping your thinking processes is also unrealistic, even when those negative or recurring thoughts can create or worsen anxiety. They will come back no matter what you do to block them from your memory, because of the psychological principle of “thought suppression.”  According to Calm Clinic, ”Thought suppression is a psychological phenomenon that states that when you try to avoid having a thought, you actually have the thought more often than if you never bothered trying to avoid it at all.”

Anxiety is also difficult to treat because it is self-sustaining. The symptoms can prevent you from seeking help or doing things that would improve your condition, making you feel more anxious.


What Works: Talking to a Professional

When your “fight or flight” response is active, you may know that your fears are unfounded, but you can’t stop feeling anxious because your fear/anxiety is real. You can’t just will the negative thoughts to dissipate. Nevertheless, know that your case is not hopeless. If your anxiety is interfering with your life or causing your health to suffer, put your illogical fears and apprehensions to rest with the assistance of an experienced therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services Pittsboro, NC.

Talking to a trustworthy therapist contracted with CCS in Pittsboro is a vital step in facing your anxiety and living an improved life. Remember, you don’t have to suffer in silence: make that call to CCS-Pittsboro and give yourself the chance to break free from the paralyzing effects of anxiety.


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Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Pittsboro, NC

Counties: Chatham, Alamance, Durham, Harnett, Lee, Moore, Orange, Randolph, Wake, NC
Areas: Pittsboro NC, Gulf NC, Hickory Mountain NC, Hadley NC, Siler City NC, Wilsonville NC, Fearrington NC, Mandale NC, Bear Creek NC, Albright NC
Zip Codes: 27312, 27344, 27207, 27228, 27256, 27559


Gail Gustafson, MSW, LCSW

Specializes in: (Ages 9+) Adolescents and Adults, Individuals, Couples and Families. PTSD/Trauma, EMDR, Adoption, Drug/Alcohol/Substance Abuse addiction, Anxiety, Depression, Bi-polar, Life Transitions, Grief and Loss, Parenting, Family, couples and marriage counseling.
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