Anxiety and the Brain, Part 9: Useful Examples of Amygdala-based Anxiety.

The book I have been referencing for the Anxiety and the Brain series (Rewire Your Anxious Brain) has some examples of how anxiety can affect someone, and why amygdala-based anxiety does not always make logical sense.

The Anxious Teddy Bear:

A lady was presenting a teddy bear to her grandson, who was running happily toward her.  Then he suddenly fell and split his lip open on the driveway.

Now he experiences amygdala-based anxiety whenever he sees a teddy bear.  Because the perfectly harmless teddy bear was associated with the pain of the injury, the teddy bear became a trigger, leading to a fear of teddy bears. Read more

Anxiety and the Brain, Part 8: Learning from Experience.

“The amygdala is not logical.”

Trying to alleviate anxiety, panic, worry and avoidance of triggers with reasoned thought and rational arguments is never going to work.  Those close to you will always try to help by offering logical reasons for what is going on with you; unfortunately they have not experienced what you have, so what seems illogical to them is actually terrifying to you.  Who could be scared of a teddy bear, their so cute and fluffy!

In the same way that the amygdala has learnt to fear, EXPERIENCE is the only sure way to retrain it. Read more

Anxiety and the Brain, Part 7: Learning the Language of the Amygdala.

We now know that the amygdala is a big player when it comes to anxiety, but how do you understand something that you have no control over?

If you want to understand someone who is speaking a foreign language, you learn the language or find a way to communicate, otherwise you won’t have a clue what the person is trying to tell you.  The same goes for the amygdala; to understand it we need to learn its language.

To start with, it is important to know that the amygdala has pre-programmed responses from the day we are born and it is ready to work from day one.  From this point it constantly learns and changes based on your day-to-day experiences. Read more

Medication & Anxious Dreams.

Over the last few months I have started having some really bad dreams; I wouldn’t say they all felt like nightmares, but they all shared one thing in common, I experienced anxiety and panic in them to a level where I was paralysed (in the dream that is).

I have experienced nightmares in the past, I’ve been chased by dinosaurs, had spiders or snakes about to bite me, but for some reason none had the lasting effect that these anxious dreams have had. 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