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What is Anxiety?

In several instances, I faced fear and a few specific life events triggered the anxiety in me. Since childhood I faced fear when I first saw a ghost movie, that night I was not able to sleep and woke up with nightmares. At age of 11 we had to shift to our new home and first time unconsciously I felt anxious about the whole new place thing, new place, new people, new school and adjustments, etc., unconsciously I was anxious and manifested into different forms back then, only it came to surface and I’m aware of my anxiety when I lost my sister in an accident. It was marked as an adverse life event and I perceived the threat consciously. It is first-time y anxiety stemmed from and it surfaced several times in different life areas like work and social interactions. I went through therapy and my self-interception and analysis made me understand the triggers and root cause of my anxiety and helped me to cope with it effectively. I used CBT, and psychoanalysis to understand and treat my anxieties in different spheres targeting the core fears.
It is confusing to anyone to understand what is the underlying cause of anxiety, is it a mere fear or a manifestation of a perceived threat. To deal with anxieties it is better to understand the subtle difference between anxiety and fear.


Fear: It is an automatic neurophysiological state of alarm involving our evaluation of threat or danger to the safety and security of an individual. It is an adaptive function that is critical for survival in danger and emergencies. Fear can be normal and abnormal; in our introspection, we need to identify and understand whether we have abnormal fear which often intervenes with daily life activities. For example fear of the poisonous spider is normal but fear or threat perception toward household spider web can be abnormal and can intervene with daily life activities.


Anxiety: It is a complex, affective, physiological, and behavioral response system that activates when we perceive events are unpredictable, highly aversive or threatening in nature.
A couple of observations in myself understood the difference between fear and anxiety, fear as the basic automatic response to danger is the core process of anxiety. Anxiety on other hand can be described as an enduring state of threat or perceived aversiveness, uncontrollability, uncertainty, vulnerability, and inability to obtain expected outcomes. Anxiety can be a continuous state of nervousness or agitation that can intervene with daily living.

Markers to identify Abnormal fear and anxiety:
1. Dysfunctional thoughts & beliefs: False assumptions involving danger evaluated without direct evidence or observation. This may intervene with objective reality and increase the state of fear.
2. Impaired functioning of self: anxiety can directly intervene with adaptive coping in the face of perceived threats, and social, and occupational functioning in general.
3. Persistence: in clinical states anxiety persists for much longer periods than expected under normal conditions. So, it is common for anxiety-prone individuals to experience anxiety on a daily basis for several years.
4. False alarm: though there is no real threat or any life-threatening stimulus if we still perceive the threat and intense fear that can be a false alarm.
5. Stimulus hypersensitivity: individuals with an anxiety disorder would interpret a broader range of situations as life-threatening. Fear is a stimulus-driven aversive response to either external or internal cues that are perceived as a threat.
These are the five markers that one can identify in self.
(High anxiety = high threat severity + less coping and safety)

In upcoming articals, i will write about following anxiety disordrs to make you understand and guide you through the treatment & coping mechanisms with hlep of CBT.

  • Generalized Anxiety Disoored
  • OCD
  • Posttraumatic stress disorder
  • Social Phobia/Anxiety
  • Panic Diorders

In my advice, it is always beneficial to take professional help so in case you think you need professional assistance get in touch with me. here is the link to book an appointment with me.

Vamsy Krishna D
Psychologist

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