Anxiety and Fear: The Difference
Anxiety is defined as emotionally complicated response similar to that of fear. Both processes originate in the same portion of the brain and cause a similar physiological and behavioural reaction that will help deal with danger. However, fear and anxiety vary slightly, in which fear is typically linked with a clear, present, and identifiable threat, while anxiety arises in the absence of immediate danger. In other words, fear occurs in real troubling situations. For example, anxiety happens when a truck crosses the centre line and heading towards our car while driving. Then we have a sense of dread or discomfort, but actually, we aren’t in danger at that moment.
The Beginning of Anxiety
Usually, everyone experiences fear and anxiety. Several events cause sudden threat feelings in our life, such as severe thunderstorm destroying our house, or a vision of strange dog bounding toward us. Anxiety begins in these kinds of situations when we worry about the safety of our loved ones, when we hear a strange noise late at night, or when we contemplate everything we need to complete before an upcoming deadline at work. The majority of people will experience anxiety, especially under these types of stressful situations. Problems arise when the anxiety begins to interfere with the important aspects of our life. In that case, we need to gain control over the anxiety and deal with it to shape our lives.
Impact of Anxiety
Anxiety will cause severe damage to people’s lives beyond the reach of imagination. For example, some people are troubled by worries that haunt in every waking moment, while others will suffer from insomnia. Some will struggle with adjusting new location and circumstances, while others fear about public speaking. These things will cause insecurity for their job and personal life. Other examples are a new working mother needing to finish all the household stuff every morning before she can leave her child with a sitter. A teenager whose house was destroyed by the hit of a tornado shall be haunted by nightmares and can result in suspension from school due to fighting with his classmates. In the case of plumbers, fear of encountering large spiders during their job will destroy his income. A child’s fear of interacting with teachers will affect their education. Even though anxiety has the power to destroy the basic activities of an individual’s life, all of them can get back to their normal life. Because of technological revolutions, understanding the structure of the brain that creates anxiety is easily possible, thereby helping them to find confidence.
Scientific Proof of Anxiety
Several laboratories across the world have been conducting researches to understand the neurological connection with anxiety. Research on animals has uncovered new information about the neurological fundamentals of fear. Researchers were able to identify the structure of the brain, which is responsible for the protective responses. At the same time, new technologies like magnetic resonance imaging and positron emission tomography scans, have provided detailed information about the functioning of the brain in various situations. This new information allows neuroscientists to bridge connections between animal research and human research. As a result, we obtain a clear understanding of fear and anxiety, which can predict all kind of human emotions.
Root of Anxiety
The scientists noticed significant information on two different pathways that generate anxiety in the brain. One path originates in the cerebral cortex, which is the large, convoluted and grey part of the brain that deals with the perceptions and thoughts of our situations. The other begins in the amygdalas, contains two small, almond-shaped structures situated one on each side of the brain. This amygdala triggers the ancient fight-or-flight response, which has been passed down virtually unchanged from the earliest vertebrates on earth. Both pathways play a role in anxiety, although some types of anxiety are more associated with the cortex, while others are directly attributed to the amygdala. In psychotherapy treatment for anxiety, the focus has been given on the cortex pathway, which involves altering the thoughts of anxiety and logically arguing against causes. However, recent developments in the research suggest that the amygdala also plays important in controlling anxiety.