What is anxiety and why do we have it?

What is anxiety and why do we have it?

Anxiety is a normal response to a risky situation; it is our body’s way of letting us know that we are in danger. When exposed to danger, our body will release stress hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol, which will cause physical responses to occur including heart racing, shaking, feeling hot and sweaty, rapid breathing, stomach churning and increased urgency to urinate or defecate. We may also find our thoughts race and it becomes difficult to think straight. The reason for this is that our body is getting ready to respond: to protect us from whatever is threatening us. This is commonly known as the ‘fight, flight or freeze’ response. Our body essentially pumps all the energy to the big muscles to give us the energy and strength we need to fight back or to get away as fast as possible. It is evolutionary and for this reason has helped us as a species to survive.

The problem is that this automatic response tends to fire up at times when we don’t need it and this can actually cause us to experience troubles as a result.

We need anxiety to function, to keep us safe and to prevent us from entering situations that may put our lives or integrity at risk – and therefore it would never be the aim of therapy to get rid of this feeling completely. However, we can find ways in which to understand why you may be experiencing it so much that it is impacting on your quality of life. Anxiety difficulties can manifest in many different ways including panic, social anxiety, phobias, health anxiety, OCD and generalised anxiety disorder.