We all experience some amount of anxiety in our lives, and this natural response to the environment is what keeps us sober and help us to prevent some negligent mistakes that could lead to greater harm.
However, there are nearly 7 million people who feel such anxiety in relatively mundane situations with little to no explanation as to why they are being overwhelmed with this kind of worry and fear.
These people are suffering from generalized anxiety disorder, which means that they experience these anxiety attacks in most of the time compared to when they don’t. This state accounts for disturbances in sleep, increased irritability, muscle tension, and panic attacks.
The greatest issue about anxiety disorders is that people suffering from them have severely affected lifestyles and their day-to-day functioning is limited in many respects.
While the main cause behind anxiety disorders has not been pinpointed directly, several factors can contribute to its occurrences, such as genetically conditioned brain responses and phobias, environmental factors, and childhood traumas.
Neuroscience has discovered that the levels and synapse response to hormones such as adrenaline, cortisol, serotonin, GABA, and dopamine.
For example, in the case of OCD, scientists have suggested a mutation in the neurons which obstruct the transportation of serotonin through the synapses, returning the hormone to the sending neuron before it has been received by the receiving neuron.
In the case of phobias, scientists have suggested that these seemingly unexplained fears can be traced back to our ancestry and the experience our ancestors had with the things we are genuinely afraid of.
As experiments have shown, mice subjected to electroshocks whenever the scent of strawberries has been introduced gave birth to offspring who were conditioned to fear the smell of strawberries even though it posed no real danger to them.
In other words, your unexplained phobias were dangers for your ancestors which were real, and this information had been genetically transferred to you (as a form of protection) even if the danger doesn’t seem so real today.
Whatever the case with anxiety disorders, treatment involving behavioral therapy, SSRI/SNRI medications, or benzodiazepines have an effect up to a point with potential side effects or lack of effectiveness.
The neuroscience behind anxiety disorders is extremely complicated and it still needs a lot of research in order to trace the main culprit behind them. Telling someone to ‘calm down’ or ‘get over it’ won’t be of much help to these people in any case.
Anxiety is something that needs to be taken more seriously and understood with greater empathy. In the end, these people are fighting every day, and if they are your friends, you need to assure them that they are safe with you and that they can trust you.