Mental Health

Why is Anxiety So Hard to Get Rid Of?

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Lately I’ve noticed an increase in people asking me this question:

Why won’t my anxiety go away? The short answer is because it’s hard to forget.

This has become AG’s $64,000 question.  I produced a short screen-cast to try to explain why this is, but just in case you want the text version, here it is.

Human beings evolved over many millions of years and during that time our brains changed, expanded and adapted to the environment in incredible ways.  However, despite all that cool evolution of the brain, there were still certain parts of the brain that never came along for the evolutionary ride.

Some things just stayed the same.

That is to say, in the early days, humans relied a lot on instinct, fight or flight, and other innate behaviors for survival, and the part of the brain that makes all that possible  is still with us.

In this regard, the amygdala is of particular interest because it’s the seat of both fear and memory, which is great in the context of survival (allows for fast response to danger), but has serious drawbacks when you’re having a panic attack inside your cubicle.

So What?

What’s important about fear and memory sharing the same space in your brain is that your anxious experiences are imprinted on your mind in the form of memories that are linked to feelings of fear.

These types of memories are easily recalled when you’re in situations that remind you of experiences that caused you angst in the past, or sometimes these memories bubble up to the surface for no reason at all because your mind has become conditioned to think anxiously.

The point? Having weird thoughts, feelings, and inclinations isn’t weird. The mind is complex and can process and retain mass amounts of data that is chewed up and spat out in nonsensical ways sometimes. The problem is that unlike most people you have a hard time shrugging these kinds of thoughts off.

Plus, you’re not as evolved as you think. We are, after all, imperfect biological amalgams based on a really old prototype.

Ultimately, understand that sometimes you’re going to have “crazy” random thoughts, strange physical sensations and worry a lot but, even then, it doesn’t mean that you’re losing your mind or that you’ll never get better.

It does mean, however, that you need to start addressing your stress levels, anxiety levels, and even your outlook on life.  It also means understanding that we are all susceptible to this stuff because we’re only human.

P.S.

For a more in depth explanation of this topic please click here.

show http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gC11rTUiA3Y&feature=player_embedded