“Hi there, it’s Dr. Maneet Bhatia, Clinical Psychologist.
Today, I want to discuss anxiety. What is anxiety? Anxiety is a normal physiological response when we experience a physical threat. As long as we’ve existed, we’ve had signals for anxiety in order to flight or fight. So, anxiety from an evolutionary perspective is an adaptive, functional, healthy survival mechanism.
The problem is when anxiety gets triggered in situations that don’t require it. Now, our body is sophisticated and our mind is sophisticated, but when it comes to anxiety and anxiety disorders, what happens is if we imagine a threat to be real, so if we think something’s a threat, it’ll automatically kick in our anxiety systems.
What that means is sometimes even though there’s not an actual physical threat, we will experience a situation in a way that would activate our arousal system into the flight or fight response.
What does this mean for us? It means that the way we think about situations, the way we interpret situations, will impact whether we experience the physiological process of anxiety. That means we have to be mindful of how we think in situations and whether our thoughts are based in reality, based on objective facts, and based on the presenting information. Otherwise, what happens is similar to a false alarm at a school or a building, we take that to mean there’s a real fire.
That’s the work we do when we’re engaging in psychological treatment; we help patients understand the difference between an actual threat and a perceived threat, the difference between assumptions and interpretations, and objective facts. If we can think in healthier, balanced ways, we can handle situations that cause us stress in healthier, adaptive, positive ways – meaning that we respond proportionately to what’s happening.
I hope that helps. Be mindful of your thoughts and ask yourself “is what I’m thinking based in reality and whether or not I can respond accordingly.” Thanks.”
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