Anxiety is a physiological state causing feelings of
fear, apprehension and worry. These feelings are as
common as happiness and joy. Studies are suggesting
anxiety is a protective mechanism. It could be our
body’s way of warning us against participation in
potentially harmful situations.
Basically what happens is our minds perceive danger.
This may be real or imagined. Our body reacts to this
threat by preparing for action. Heart rate and blood
pressure rise to increase the blood flow to the major
muscle groups. Sweating is increased to help maintain
body temperature. When the threat is only imagined,
these bodily functions lead to the common, unpleasant
physical symptoms of anxiety. These include heart
palpitations, shortness of breath, sweating,
trembling, nausea and chills.
Sigmund Freud said anxiety was a “signal of danger”
which results in physical defensive behaviors. These
“defensive behaviors” are meant to enable our bodies
to overcome whatever danger is threatening us. He
believed we get these anxious feelings from traumatic
experiences, and then reinforce the feelings through
When we see or feel something we associate with a
previous traumatic experience, we feel a resurgence of
the anxiety these situations caused. Emotionally, we
feel a sense of panic or extreme dread. Voluntary and
involuntary behavior urges us to escape. But if we
just avoid or run away from these situations without
dealing with the anxiety, we reinforce this urge to
escape. This just results in even more anxious
feelings the next time this situation is encountered.