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

Anxiety and the Brain, Part 3: The Cortex Pathway

In part 2 of this series we looked at the basics of how anxiety is created in the brain, and highlighted the two main parts of the brain that cause anxiety and the physical responses we experience when feeling anxious.

In parts 3 and 4 we will look at the two key parts or pathways (the Cortex and the Amygdala) in more detail.

The Cortex:

The cortex is split into two halves, or HEMISPHERES; quite simply, the left and the right.  These hemispheres are then divided into smaller sections called LOBES.  Each of these lobes has a different function; for example, processing vision, hearing, and other information collected by the senses.  The lobes then put all of this information together and this allows you to perceive the world around you. Read more

Anxiety and the Brain, Part 2: Introducing the Cortex and the Amygdala

Trying to get your head around anxiety is really difficult; in some cases it can be a complete mystery to both those suffering, and to those seeing someone suffer.

As I have mentioned in previous articles anxiety does not always make sense, but after reading the next few articles on Anxiety and the Brain, things will hopefully become a bit clearer.

In these articles I will be referencing a brilliant book called ‘Rewire Your Anxious Brain’ which has been a life saver in helping me to get clarity on what goes on up there.

To start with, it is important to differentiate between Anxiety and Fear because it can be easy to confuse the two: Read more