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Advice | There’s more than one type of anxiety. Here are tips to cope.

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the various manifestations and impacts of anxiety, including social anxiety, generalized anxiety, panic attacks, and phobias. It also provides helpful coping strategies for managing anxiety.

🙋 Q&A

[01] Anxiety and Its Impacts

1. What are some common ways in which anxiety can be experienced?

  • Social anxiety: Concerns about being judged or scrutinized by others, leading to avoidance of social situations
  • Generalized anxiety: Persistent worry about various stressors like work, home obligations, deadlines, and bills, leading to a constant state of unease
  • Panic attacks: Sudden surges of intense fear or discomfort, accompanied by physical symptoms like chest pain, shaking, and lightheadedness
  • Phobias: Extreme fear or worry about specific objects or environments, leading to avoidance behaviors

2. How does anxiety impact the brain and cognitive functioning?

  • During anxiety, the "emotional brain" (e.g., amygdala) becomes overactivated, overriding the "thinking brain" (e.g., prefrontal cortex) and leading to rigid, emotion-driven thinking
  • As anxiety increases, there is less access to the prefrontal cortical areas that would allow for flexible thinking
  • The amygdala's activation stimulates the release of stress hormones, putting the body and mind in a constant state of alertness and worry

3. How can anxiety disrupt sleep and impact overall well-being?

  • Anxiety can make it difficult to shake off troubling thoughts at night, leading to disrupted or limited sleep
  • During sleep, the brain may prioritize consolidating negative experiences and fear memories, strengthening pessimistic outlooks
  • Many patients report that their anxiety peaks upon awakening, leading to dread about the day ahead

[02] Coping Strategies for Anxiety

1. What are some helpful strategies for managing anxiety?

  • Give yourself a break and practice self-acceptance, recognizing that we all have limitations and individual responses to situations
  • Gradually "invite" anxiety and sit with it, creating an "exposure hierarchy" to engage with distressing cues in a sustainable way
  • Find a "middle space" by viewing anxious thoughts as just thoughts, not absolute reality, and reframing them through alternative perspectives
Shared by Daniel Chen ·
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