Most people experience anxiety every once in a while. It’s how we react to situations we believe are stressful or dangerous.
When you’re anxious, you feel intense dread. Sometimes, it’s due to a reasonable event, such as a big life change. However, there are other times when anxiety is happening all the time, and this is known as anxiety disorder.
When this form of anxiety happens, it can cause several changes in your head. Overcoming anxiety tends to involve knowing how the body works. In this post, we will look at how it affects your brain.
You Go into Fight or Flight Mode
Fight or flight mode is how we cope with a threat. It tells us whether we should fight the danger, or try to face it head-on.
In the past, it was a useful defense mechanism. In modern times, our brains may not be able to figure out what is dangerous and what’s not. Because of this, your body is going to be constantly going into this mode.
What does this mean for your brain? What it means is that your brain fills up with stress hormones.
These stress hormones are mainly cortisol and adrenaline. These two hormones help you prepare for danger by being more reflexive and more willing to fight.
When the danger is not present, your brain tends to calm down. However, it is a little different if you’re anxious. When you have an anxious brain, you are constantly overwhelmed with hormones. This flood of hormones can cause you to feel overwhelmed with stress. You may become more anxious than ever.
Being more anxious means you’re more stressed, and this can lead to a traumatizing cycle. You may develop panic disorder, or you may be unable to face off against actual danger when that happens. It can be difficult for sure.
The False Alarms
One part of your brain that’s affected by anxiety is the amygdala. This part of your brain looks like an almond, and you can find it inside of your limbic system. The limbic system is associated with mood. In theory, the amygdala is supposed to tell you if there’s any danger.
If your amygdala detects danger, it tells the hypothalamus about it. What happens next is a fight or flight response.
If you keep having anxiety, your amygdala becomes extremely overactive. You may feel threats all around you, and you may not be able to tell the difference between a real threat and one you just perceive to be dangerous because of your anxiety.
Another issue that too much anxiety can brain is that it causes the connections between your prefrontal cortex and your amygdala to weaken. What does this mean?
Well, let’s look at what the prefrontal cortex does.
It Controls Logic
The prefrontal cortex is associated with logic and making rational decisions. It tells you that you need to think about your next move, and not to use too much emotion.
However, an anxiety-ridden brain makes it so that the profrontal cortex has less control over your brain.
Have you ever seen an anxious person and wonder why they are so irrational at times? This may be a reason why.
When you’ve had chronic anxiety, you may not look at every anxious episode with logic. Instead, you may end up unable to rationalize your way out of an anxious episode. Suddenly, everything odd that happens to your body feels like the end, and your brain cannot talk you out of it. When you have a doctor’s appointment, your brain can’t convince you that everything is going to be okay.
Humans are not logical creatures all the time. Emotions are powerful, after all. However, there’s a difference between being occasionally blinded by your heart and being unable to be logical at all. Anxiety can make it so that you are the latter.
Anxiety Can Cause You to Hold Onto Memories That Are Negative
Another issue of anxiety. It causes the hippocampus to shrink due to too much stress.
So, what is that? It’s the area of your brain that handles your long-term memories. As it shrinks, your mind may not be able to remember things well. However, the anxious memories still remain, as anxiety informs the hippocampus that these memories are more important.
The memories that are positive and hopeful are pushed to the side. Instead, you’re left with memories of pain, anxiety, and hopelessness. This mindset can mean it’s difficult to maintain a positive outlook, even if there are good things happening to you.
Is There Any Hope?
As you can see, anxiety hurts your mind quite a bit. Anxiety reprograms your brain so that you are less rational and you’re more likely to bend to the will that is anxiety.
With all that said, is there any hope? Yes.
By treating anxiety, you can reverse the effects it does to your brain.
Medication may be able to help by managing your symptoms. When you feel fewer anxiety symptoms, you may feel less panicked and calmer.
Therapy techniques can also help. By being more mindful, practicing relaxation techniques, and learning to face your fears, you may be able to treat your anxiety.
Another technique is keeping a gratitude journal. This journal is helpful if you’re flooded with negative memories due to the effects of anxiety.
Diagnosis is Key
With that said, it’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference between normal anxiety and chronic anxiety. If you have had a rough week, you may be anxious, but it may not be a sign of anxiety.
There are different resources out there to help. For example, there’s Mind Diagnostics. This is a website that can help you get a proper diagnosis. When you’re anxious, you may not be able to leave the home. That’s why online tools may be able to help you.
For more information on Mind Diagnostics, simply click the link below for more information: