Anxiety,  Mind

Anxiety Part 2: How Knowing the Way Anxiety Develops Can Reduce Shame, Increase Understanding, and Inspire Action

People who suffer from anxiety often feel ashamed to admit it. It’s seen as a sign of weakness—that they aren’t tough, resilient, courageous, or strong enough.

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Unfortunately, those who struggle with it start believing they aren’t tough, resilient, courageous, or strong; but rather, weak and unable to withstand the challenges of life. They may imagine they lack some kind of “strong” gene that everyone else seems to have.

But knowing how anxiety develops in the first place will help to remove these destructive thoughts. In addition, it’ll add an understanding that we are all susceptible to it in some way, shape, or form.

In Anxiety Part 1, we differentiated between stress and anxiety. Hold on to the differences that were outlined in Part 1, otherwise, this might start to get a little confusing.

Why?

Because after looking into their differences, we are about to make a connection between them. A connection is needed to explain how anxiety got there in the first place.

To understand how any kind of anxiety develops, let’s examine the anxiety disorder commonly referred to as PTSD, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD results from experiencing a traumatic event that causes a person to experience anxiety long after that event has passed. What causes PTSD (a form of anxiety) is not very different from what causes anxiety period: Trauma.

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If you recognized the word “stress” in post-traumatic stress disorder, you might already see where this is heading…The anxiety disorder, PTSD, is a result of a major traumatic “stress” factor.

Meanwhile, anxiety not caused by one particular traumatic event can develop with the build-up of frequent or constant traumatic stress over time. We’ll refer to this as mini-traumas.

It’s a mind that is more often in distress than it is at ease. Moreover, this mind begins to forget what “relaxed” means or feels like. Instead, feelings of tension and distress become its homeostasis.

So if you are in a state of either stress or anxiety more often than you are not, or if you know someone who is, here are a few takeaways to remember:
  1. First of all, an intervention is definitely in order. The “fight or flight” response we get was never meant to be a constant. That would be the equivalent of our ancestors being chased by a bear…literally all the time.
  2. It’s not a matter of lacking grit. Certain life circumstances and life experiences induce traumatic stress, which leads to anxiety.
  3. Being in a relaxed state of being more often than we are not is the goal here. Remember that stress factors will never go away altogether, and an anxiety disorder may already be present due to either a major trauma and/or mini-traumas. Therefore, we all tread along the cusp of anxiety and may slip into it in different ways and at different levels, tendencies, and frequencies. So reducing how often and how severe we experience symptoms of both stress and anxiety is something we can all strive for in our everyday lives.
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