Anxiety encompasses feelings of worry about certain events and features many physiological symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating, and fatigue. Increasing research is showing that many will experience anxiety at some point in their life. In many cases, anxiety is normal. However, it can become a clinical problem when it impacts daily activities and provokes significant life distress. Similar to many other mental health issues, anxiety has a biological basis, centered mainly in the brain. When exposed to chronic levels of stress, emotional dysregulation increases due to damage or poor functioning in key brain structures located in the limbic system of the brain related to fear such as the amygdala, medial prefrontal cortex, and hippocampus. More specifically, activity in the amygdala increases while structures in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus degenerate during exposure to chronic stress (Mah, Sazbuniewicz, & Fiocco, 2016). These physiological bases for anxiety provide support for the use of medications and therapies which specifically target these brain structures (Mah et al., 2016). If you’re experiencing intense anxiety, ask your doctor or therapist about antianxiety medications and physiological therapies such as biofeedback or neurofeedback. You may notice a bigger difference in what you experience when anxious when physiological therapies are implemented! And if you’re looking for a therapist who can conduct biofeedback, give Mountainview Counseling a call!
Mah, L., Szabuniewicz, C., & Fiocco, A. J. (2016). Can anxiety damage the brain? Current Opinions Psychiatry, 29, 56-63. https://doi.org/10.1097/YCO.0000000000000223