Most of us can tell apart Anxiety andFear.
We can also agree to that Anxiety is focused on some future threat, while Fear is an intense emotional reaction to some immediate threat or danger.
Basically, fear activates your somatic nervous system in order to prepare you to face danger. (Sometimes you will freeze in fear, sometimes your body will release adrenaline and will be ready to scape, etc.)
Your body’s response to immediate danger is often referred to as the “fight-or-flight” response. All the changes in your body are designed to help you respond to the threat with either an aggressive response (fight) or an escape from the situation (flight).
Some of you may not think about it in this way, but ANGER is also a response to a potential threat.
Understanding that anxiety and anger are both responses to potential threat helps explain why people with anxiety disorders often display high levels of anger and irritability.
We all feel fear and anxiety from time to time. But if you have an anxiety disorder, you feel these emotions frequently.
It can be difficulty labeling your own emotions, or you might think that terms such as “anxiety” and “fear” don’t seem to capture what you feel.
You may even be surprised to learn that anxiety and fear serve a useful function.
But you need them to survive. Anxiety is designed to help you prepare for a possible future threat; fear is designed to help you escape in the face of some immediate threat.
Fear and panic are only a problem when they occur too frequently, too intensely, and in the absence of true danger. Thereby, preventing you from doing things that you want to do.
Low to moderate levels of anxiety actually provide you with the motivation to get things done. If you had no anxiety, chances are that many necessary tasks would never be completed. You may even be inclined to do things that are impulsive and risky.
At the same time, high levels of anxiety can interfere with our ability to get things done.
What Triggers Anxiety and Fear?
As we said, anxiety and fear are reactions to a perceived threat. This means, essentially, that we interpret a situation to be dangerous in some way. It doesn’t mean that the situation is dangerous (example: when you are watching a horror movie).
Anxiety and fear are almost always triggered by something. Those triggers can be internal or external.
Internal triggers are private, internal experiences that we perceived as threating. They can also be thoughts or images (cognitive triggers) even physical sensations.
External triggers can be objects, situations or activities.
The distinction between external and internal triggers is not always clear-cut. Seeing an object (external) might remind you of an experience from the past (internal) that triggers the anxiety or fear.