10 Things to Know About Anxiety


1. Anxiety shuts down your rational brain.
When you get anxious, your amygdala fires up, sends chemicals to your frontal lobe, your rational brain, and it goes offline.

2. Anxiety is generally about the future.
While anxiety can take several forms — generalized anxiety, phobias, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder — and create differing symptoms — worrying, somatic symptoms such as knots in your stomach, restlessness — it is usually always about what-ifs in the future. This is in contrast, to say, depression and guilt which are usually about the past.

3. There is rational and irrational anxiety.
Rational anxiety is about real problems — the upcoming job interview, the fact that you haven’t heard back from your partner about picking up the kids. Irrational anxiety is…irrational — that you’ll do lousy on the interview, never get the job, and likely never get any job, and will inevitably wind up living in a cardboard box on the street in 6 months.

4. Anxiety makes everything important.
Anxiety makes it difficult to see and set priorities. What to make for dinner can feel just as important as preparing for that job interview. This is why it is easy to feel overwhelmed — so much to do, so little time. And if you have tendency towards perfectionism, it adds fuel to the fire making it all worse.

5. If your anxiety gets too high it becomes too difficult to rein in.
If you think of your anxiety running on a 10-point scale with 1 being calm, 10 panicked and overwhelmed to the max, once it gets up to a 7 or 8 it can be difficult to rein it in.