Almost everyone has experienced anxiety, call it what you will- anxiety, nerves, worry, or downright fear. By serving as a useful signal, anxiety prompts an increase in focus, the avoidance of danger, and determined problem solving. As it comes and goes in response to the presence or absence of challenges and threats, it helps us self-protect.
Even though anxiety can be useful, it can also go awry. It goes arwy when the anxiety itself becomes the problem, that is, when it takes over. After all, no one likes to feel ill at ease, and it is natural to focus on distress. When that happens, a struggle can begin to make it go away. Sometimes things are tried but don't work, and the only effective way to lessen anxiety seems to be to avoid its source. But avoidance often backfires because, if avoidance becomes the dominant defense, the ability to cope constructively with anxiety actually shrinks.
The problem is that avoidance only reduces anxiety for the time being, and, at the moment, it is very effective. Yet in the long run it backfires because what is avoided becomes more and more frightening and therefore needs more and more avoiding. An unfortunate feedback loop evolves wherein avoidance breeds more anxiety which causes more avoidance and so it goes. As they say, if you fall off a horse, get right back on because the longer you wait, the harder it will be to ride again. They are correct.
If anxiety and avoidance have begun to cycle, anxiety no longer varies with actual situations, no longer responds to what is really going on. It does not signal real threat or threat is grossly overestimated. As it becomes increasingly disproportionate and avoidance becomes more pervasive, other coping methods fade away. Anxiety now signals failing coping capacities.
It is at this point that anxiety has reached clinical levels and feels overwhelming. It may have become an Anxiety Disorder in need of treatment. If you think that your anxiety needs attention, please call me at 317-872-4158 or use the Contact Me page.