Anxiety and the Brain, Part 6: Circuitry

Circuitry is the connection between neurons, the basic building blocks of the brain, that we explored previously.

“Neurons that fire together wire together” – Carla Shatz

We learnt that neurons FIRE, which is where a positive charge travels from the receiving dendrites of the neuron, through the cell body, all the way to the axon at the other end.  In order for the neurons to build connections between themselves, one neuron must be firing at the same time as another.

When firing together the connection between the neurons is strengthened, and eventually a pattern of circuitry develops in which the activation of one neuron causes the other to activate. Read more

Escaping the Anxious Prison.

As we have seen previously, the brain is constantly working to keep you safe from danger and harm; this is great up until the point when the anxiety is so bad that the brain goes into safety overdrive and your feel paralysed; it is as if your brain has built a prison to keep you locked away in.

While the brain thinks it is helping, being locked in this cell actually makes you feel trapped; you can imagine, and almost touch the metal bars, the solid concrete or brick walls, see the little window that is too high for you to look out of and only lets in a small amount of light. Read more

Shall I Compare Me to a Shark?

As I mentioned in my last blog I have started an introductory course in counselling; during the introductions we were asked to say which animal we were most like, and then yesterday we had to talk about that while another person listened.

I had really struggled to decide which animal I think am like, and thought that I had avoided the question until it came up again yesterday.  In a way, I am glad it did because it meant I had to come up with something and then try to explain it.

The one animal that came to my mind was a shark, which seemed quite odd to me because I am not a fearsome predator at the top of a food chain; I would probably have thought I was more like a sardine, something small and insignificant, but I kept coming back to a shark. Read more

Anxiety and the Brain, Part 5: Neurons.

Previously we have explored the parts of the brain where anxious thoughts are created and processed into physical responses; we have also seen the different anxiety pathways, but to understand how all this works, we need to understand the chemical processes that occur.

The brain is made up of billions of connected cells that form circuits; these circuits hold your memories, produce feelings, and initiate all of your actions. Read more

Anxiety and the Brain, Part 4: The Amygdala Pathway

The Amygdala is a tiny piece of the brain, but don’t let it’s size fool you, it is actually one of the biggest, most important pieces of the anxiety puzzle.

Located near the centre of the brain; it is the source of many of our emotional reactions, both positive and negative.

It also forms and recalls emotional memories; understanding this is key to making sense of your own emotional reactions. Read more