Defining anxiety Copy

Anxiety is an emotion that is fuelled by our brain’s automatic response to danger.   

When the amygdala, the part of the brain designed that evolved to keep us safe, detects a threat, it triggers a chemical reaction that shuts down clear and rational thinking, hijacks attention, and prepares the body to approach or avoid the situation perceived as threatening.

This is known as the fight-flight-freeze response, and it’s useful when we’re in real and immediate danger. But when our brain misinterprets or overestimates the threat, this process can cause distressing symptoms, including uncomfortable physical sensations, worried thoughts and anxious behaviours, like avoidance, aggression and shutting down.

Anxiety is a common feeling that we all experience from time to time. It can be helpful or unhelpful.

Watch this brief video, in which Dr. Russ Harris explains how our brains have evolved to keep us safe.