Causes of Anxiety

In people with anxiety disorders, the brain circuitry that controls the threat response goes awry. At the heart of the circuit is the amygdala, a structure that flags incoming signals as worrisome and communicates with other parts of the brain to put the body on alert.

Early life events, especially traumatic ones, can impact the circuitry so that it is oversensitive and sends out alarms too frequently. We have to perceive threats in order to survive, but those with anxiety see threats where there aren't any, perhaps because emotional memories color their perceptions.

Recent posts on Anxiety

Lena Dunham's Representations of Mental Illness

More recently viewers have seen a notable shift towards more accurate representations of mental illness. The controversial television series Girls on HBO leads the way.

We Are All Mojo Junkies

By Jeremy E Sherman Ph.D. on March 21, 2017 in Ambigamy
We all gravitate toward self-revitalizing signs of hope, and in the process, we generate social and interpersonal congestion.
wikimedia commons

Safe Spaces Can Be Dangerous

By Liz Swan Ph.D. on March 20, 2017 in College Confidential
What's so safe about "safe" spaces? They prevent students from growing and adapting which is, in fact, really scary.

Is Your Self-Esteem Too High to Be Successful?

By Rob Henderson on March 20, 2017 in After Service
Self-esteem can be dangerous. Here is a better option backed by research.

Killing Us Softly

By Billi Gordon Ph.D. on March 20, 2017 in Obesely Speaking
From our brains to our veins - the real problem with politics.

Is Mental Illness the Rule Rather than the Exception?

We hear all the time that 1 in 5 people struggle with a psychiatric disorder. New research now suggests that we have it backwards.

A Profound Experience With the Toilet

By Reid Wilson Ph.D. on March 19, 2017 in All about Anxiety
In any distressing situation, we have only two choices: Accept or resist. You have to find a way to willingly welcome your uncertainty and distress.

The Effective Crisis Negotiator: Prepare Like a Navy SEAL

By Jeff Thompson Ph.D. on March 19, 2017 in Beyond Words
Learn how crisis professionals handle stressful incidents and how it can help you handle your crises, disputes, and conflicts.

When Meditation Is Not Enough

Strategies for bringing mindfulness into everyday life.

Afraid to Speak up in Meetings? Try These 7 Tips

By Andy Molinsky Ph.D. on March 18, 2017 in Adaptation
Participating in meetings can be hard; these tips can help overcome your fears.

Sometimes Bigotry Is Just Bigotry

Has all the talk about white privilege been effective in weakening the attractiveness of President Donald Trump’s anti-group rhetoric toward some of our fellow Americans? No.
"Lime Butterfly"/giovzaid85/CC BY 2.0

When Is Reimagining the Past a Sign of Emotional Health?

By Barb Cohen on March 17, 2017 in Mom, Am I Disabled?
For counterfactual thinking to be functionally beneficial, we need a coherent story of cause and effect that makes us an essential actor in the story.

Living With Uncertainty

By Robert L. Leahy Ph.D. on March 17, 2017 in Anxiety Files
What is the probability that the plane will crash? Almost zero. Or, that you will lose all your money in the market? Almost zero. But then you insist, “Yes, but it could happen!"

Hypochondria

By Roberta Satow Ph.D. on March 17, 2017 in Life After 50
Are hypochondriacs faking? Many doctors get angry at patients with imaginary symptoms because they can be insistent and stubborn in their demand for a cure to their ailment.

Do You Worry?

Worry is an ordinary part of human experience: a protection from danger, a sign that we care, and a struggle to face the inevitable uncertainties of life.

Thinking Away Unwanted Thoughts

Don't bother telling yourself not to worry. It will never work. Instead, do this.

L-Theanine Reduces Symptoms of Anxiety

Are you looking something that is safer than a prescription medication for anxiety? L-theanine may be the answer.

Kava Is an Effective and Safe Treatment of Anxiety

Are you struggling with generalized anxiety and not getting relief from prescription medications? Kava may be the solution you've been looking for.

Successful Imperfection

By Robert L. Leahy Ph.D. on March 15, 2017 in Anxiety Files
Living life involves making mistakes and getting on with things. But many of us get undermined by our fear and intolerance of mistakes.

Why Does Self-Help Fail?

By Grant H. Brenner M.D. on March 15, 2017 in ExperiMentations
Is self-help failing you? If you don't know why, and you do want it to work, learn how to help yourself in ways which succeed.

Here's Your Brain On Trauma

Have you suffered a trauma and wonder why you feel so anxious and out of control? The answers are in your brain. Learn how trauma affects the brain, and how you can take action.

Different Types of Trauma: Small 't' versus Large ‘T’

By Elyssa Barbash Ph.D. on March 13, 2017 in Trauma and Hope
Are you feeling stressed and unable to cope, but don't understand why? There may be good reasons for that.

Help for That Buzz In Your Ear

By Temma Ehrenfeld on March 13, 2017 in Open Gently
Treat your anxiety—or try brain-training exercises—to beat ringing in the ears.

War of the Worlds: Common Enemies

By Joseph A. Shrand M.D. on March 12, 2017 in The I-M Approach
Orson Wells galvanized America with the alternate truth that we were being invaded by Martians. But do we still need a common enemy to feel united?

Why (Most) Polyamorous People Are Not Out to Steal Your Wife

There are three main reasons polyamorous people are not trying to steal monogamous partners away from their spouses -- consent, skills, and orientation.

Genetics Play a Role in Social Anxiety Disorder, Study Finds

A new study has pinpointed a genetic link between social anxiety disorder (SAD) and a serotonin transporter gene called "SLC6A4."

Does "Sully" Reveal How To Cope With Anxiety?

The flight recording of the final 2.5 minutes of Flight 1549 are extraordinary for the coolness and business-like words of its pilot.

My Child is Having a Panic Attack

Child in the midst of panic attack, or emotional flooding? Here is a new response for parents to consider.

How to Cope With the Trauma of Online Harrassment

Have you experienced online harassment? You may be suffering from symptoms of trauma and not even know it.

Fear-of-Falling... Or Falling-From-Fear?

By Toby Ellmers on March 08, 2017 in Aging Brain, Aging Body
How can modifying our behavior to prevent a fall from occurring actually increase the likelihood of falling?