The brain has a funny way of processing the things that happen around us. As more information on mental health becomes more readily available, our understanding of our own feelings can improve as well. This gives members of younger generations a distinct advantage regarding how they handle challenges compared to those older than us. Today, Clearbrook Massachusetts examines the concept of fear vs. anxiety, how they serve us, and how they don’t.
How Is Fear Helpful?
First, we need to take a closer look at how the emotion of fear serves its purpose in the lives of nearly every creature on the planet.
In any given situation, our five senses process all the occurrences happening around us as information. Depending on our own personal experiences, our “emotional brain,” aka the limbic system, will automatically switch on the fear response if it translates that information as some kind of threat. Once it turns on, our fight or flight instincts kick in, resulting in the need to reduce the threat by any means necessary.
This explains why we can’t control what our emotions will be, only how we handle them. Fear is there to help keep us alive. At our most primal level, it is what should get us from point A to point B with as little trauma or injury as possible.
Is Anxiety Fear?
Although they are commonly associated, the simple answer is no. Anxiety and fear are not the same things. While fear is our brain and body’s response to an immediate danger in our surrounding environment, anxiety is a response to our own internal emotions. Essentially, fear will get us moving away from danger, but anxiety is supposed to keep us from getting near that danger in the first place.
Imagine this scenario: you go out with a group of friends, and the night ends up with you in a physical altercation. Fear may have influenced your decisions at that moment, telling you how to get out of that dangerous situation with as few injuries as possible. Next week, those adventurous friends of yours are asking you to come back out to the same bar, but a feeling in your stomach is telling you to just stay home this time. That’s anxiety at work. While it is an understandable reaction in this situation, an excess of these feelings can be a sign of a bigger problem at play.
Anxiety and Substance Abuse
Our brains become wired through our lived experiences and biological factors. The more trauma we go through, the more anxiety our brain can experience. For some, this can result in an anxiety disorder such as obsessive-compulsive disorder. For others, coping mechanisms like drugs and alcohol are chosen. For those with addictive tendencies, this is a slippery slope to a substance abuse issue.
When a substance is present, the experience of fear and anxiety can become very hard to decipher, forming a vicious cycle that is difficult to break out of. That’s where we come in. Our Massachusetts treatment center offers residential mental health care and detox programs designed to get to the bottom of what is holding you back from living the life you want.
Contact Clearbrook Massachusetts at 570-536-9621 for more information.