Everyone worries from time to time and everyone experiences anxiety — both are normal emotions that give us information. When we have excessive amounts of either one, it can impair our lives and make day-to-day activities difficult to manage.
Worry is a cognitive process and happens in a different part of the brain (a higher part). Worry is an active process: it’s the thinking, imagining, “what if” part of our brains. Anxiety, however, comes from a lower, more primitive part called the amygdala. The term “anxiety” refers to the physical symptoms of fight, flight, or freeze and can be triggered by worry or a real or perceived danger. Think of it this way: anxiety is your body’s alarm system, and its job is to be on alert for danger. When all systems are firing normally, the alarm doesn’t go off very often and, when it does, the feelings, sensations, and experience pass within an hour or so. When the alarm gets stuck and goes off all the time for things that are not emergencies (like saying the wrong thing in a text message or not being able to sleep) and/or lasts for hours, that’s when we say there’s an anxiety problem. More times than not, our worry sets off the alarm, so targeting an overactive worry system is necessary.
Both are common and very treatable. Everything I do centers around teaching people skills to help put worry and anxiety in their place and you in the driver’s seat.