- Fear and
anxiety are adaptive responses that are protective against a challenge.
Disorders occur when responses to
fear or anxiety interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school
work, and relationships.Treating anxiety disorders requires an understanding of the underlying
processes responsible for them.
A recent analysis
brings to light the misunderstanding that exists in the functioning of certain
parts of the brain in relation to fear and anxiety. Researchers feel that this
misunderstanding could be responsible for the failure in developing new medications
that could effectively tackle fear and anxiety disorders.
Anxiety and fear are two emotions that affect
the well being of a person. Though these terms are often used close to each
other, a basic distinction exists between fear and anxiety.
‘Fear and anxiety can be momentary, but they can also last much longer and affect your health.’
a vague unpleasant emotional state where the patient experiences apprehension,
dread, distress, and uneasiness that is object less. Anxiety is manifested in a
person's thoughts (cognitively), in a person's actions (behaviorally), and in
Fear is a natural response to a threat that
can be either perceived or real. Fear differs from anxiety as it has a specific
object. It is often associated with a strong flight or fright response to this
object which may be something dangerous like a fire emergency in your house or
Fear and anxiety can last for a short time
and then pass, but they can also last much longer and affect your health.
"Our ability to understand the brain is
only as good as our understanding of the psychological processes
involved," state the authors Joseph LeDoux, a professor in New York
University's Center for Neural Science, and Daniel Pine, who leads the Section
on Development and Affective Neuroscience, at the National Institute of Mental
Health's Intramural Research Program.
"If we have misunderstood what fear and
anxiety are, it is not surprising that efforts to use research based on this
misunderstanding to treat problems with fear and anxiety would have produced
"Going forward, recognition of this
distinction should provide a more productive path for research and treatment."
The researchers observed that:
- Discoveries about how the brain detects and responds to threats
have guided research aimed at improving treatments for fear and anxiety
- But many promising new treatments either have
turned out to be not useful in patients or may cause adverse effects that limit
their use to severe disorders.
- Contrary to existing views,
the brain circuits that underlie the conscious feelings of fear and anxiety are
different from those that underlie the behavioral and physiological responses
associated with these feelings.
- Both sets of symptoms, the
conscious and the behavioral/psychological, must be understood and treated but
they must be addressed differently.
The researchers developed a framework which
indicates that the processes that give rise to conscious feelings of fear or
anxiety and the non-conscious processes that generate behavior and
physiological responses have differences.
The authors also suggest that treatment must move towards a dual approach where:
- Behavioral and physiological symptoms are treated with either
medications or certain psychotherapies, such as cognitive
- Conscious feelings are addressed with
psycho-therapeutic treatments that are specifically designed.
The researchers feel that research in humans is
essential to understand the conscious feelings in the brain while animal
research is required to understand the brain mechanisms that underlie the
non-conscious processes that control behavioral and physiological responses.
The analysis is published in the latest issue
of the American Journal of Psychiatry
Tips to combat Anxiety
- You cannot stop worrying, but you
could try postponing it. Make a worry time. List out your worries during that
- Distinguish your worries into those that have
solutions and those that require brainstorming.
- Do not
label yourself as a failure or a loser.
- Be good to
yourself; do not be strict with yourself.
aware of your thoughts, don't resist them. Not resisting will help you get over
- There is no strict way of conduct of life. Consider
yourself a work-in-progress and move ahead with positive thoughts.
to be in the company of those that energize you and not with those that add to
your worries. If that's not possible, keep the discussion of certain topics off
- Accept uncertainty.
- LeDoux JE, Pine DS. Using Neuroscience to Help
Understand Fear and Anxiety: A Two-System Framework. - (http://dx.doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2016.16030353)
- New York University. "Researchers
outline barriers to treating fear, anxiety."
- How to Stop Worrying - (http://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/how-to-stop-worrying.htm)
and Anxiety - (http://www.csun.edu/~vcpsy00h/students/fear.htm)