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Anxiety & Fear

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Anxiety & Fear

Anxiety and fear are both emotional reactions to danger, yet there is a difference between the two. Fear is a reaction that is proportionate to real danger; anxiety is a disproportionate reaction to danger or even a reaction to imaginary danger. Anxiety is feeling unrealistic fear, worry, uneasiness, and being unfocused. People who have anxiety also tend to feel restless, have fatigue, problems in concentration, and muscular tension. Fear is the ability to recognize danger leading to an urge to confront it or flee from it, also known as the “fight or flight” response. Some of the most common fears we have are of ghosts, cockroaches, spiders, snakes, heights, rejection, failure, and death.

There are several types and levels of anxiety. The most common is Existential Anxiety, which is a normal anxiety that evolves from stress. Test and performance anxiety, is the lack of focus when needing to complete a task such as a test or performance at an event. Test anxiety is common in students, who have a fear in failure of an exam. Some symptoms of this anxiety may be sweating, dizziness, headaches, fast heartbeats, nausea, and drumming on the desk.

Stranger and social anxiety is common in young teens that get anxiety in social interactions or social gatherings. The fear of being rejected, not fitting in, or being different than others causes this anxiety. The only worry with this anxiety is that it can persist into adulthood and become social anxiety or social phobia. Stranger anxiety is mostly common in children who fear other adults whom they do not recognize or feel comfortable with.

Anxiety can be either a short term state or a long term trait. Anxiety that is not treated early can become a generalized anxiety disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder can be determined by symptoms of exaggerated and excessive worry. Anxiety can be treated through specialized therapies aimed at changing thinking patterns and reducing anxiety behaviors. The most common form of treatment for anxiety is cognitive behavioral therapy, also known as CBT. Cognitive behavioral therapy involves the changing of thought by a therapist, and also asking the patient to explain their feelings about certain things or incidents that cause their anxiousness. For some people, anxiety can be reduced by eliminating caffeine from their diet.

Fear is an unpleasant and often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger. Fear is completely natural and helps people to recognize and respond to dangerous situations and threats. However, healthy fear can evolve into unhealthy or pathological fear, which can lead to exaggerated and violent behavior. There are several different stages of fear: The first is real fear, or fear based on a real situation. If someone or something hurts you, you have a reason to fear it in the future. Second is realistic or possible fear. This is fear based in reality that causes a person to avoid a threat in the first place (i.e. waiting to cross a traffic road for safety reasons). Next, exaggerated or emotional fear, deals with recalling past fears or and injecting them into a current situation. This type of fear is particularly relevant to conflict. Emotional fear affects the way people handle conflictual situations. There are also different types of fears, the most common are: fear of death, fear of the unknown, fear of survival.

Conflict is often driven by unfulfilled needs and the fears related to these needs. The most common fear in conflict is the fear of losing one's identity or security. Individuals and groups identify themselves in certain ways based on culture, language, race, religion, etc. and threats to those identities arouse very real fears like fears of extinction, fears of the future, and fears of oppression. Individuals with fear have many ways of approaching it. They can start by becoming aware of it, identifying the ways they express fear, recognizing situations that cause fear, and using behavioral technique to reduce fear and stress.

In order to overcome fears, the person must first come to terms with their own fears and understand just how destructive they can be. However, it is also important to be aware of others fears. Being aware of other people's fear allows you to deal with it appropriately. One of the most effective ways of handling the fear of others is through empathy, or seeing things from the other person's perspective. Although fear is learned, the capacity to fear is a part of human nature. Psychologists are making breakthroughs in helping people overcome fear. Because fear is more complex than just forgetting or deleting memories, an active and successful approach involves a person repeatedly confronting their fears. By confronting their fears in a safe manner, a person can suppress the fear-triggering memory.

The links between stress, fear and anxiety are the body's fight-or-flight response, the mind's interpretation of events, and perceived danger. Stress, fear and anxiety can be quite similar. An example may be the best way to illustrate the differences between fear and anxiety. Picture yourself walking down a sidewalk, about to cross a street, once your foot hits the curb, a car comes zooming through, you stop quickly, your heart is beating fast, and your breathing quickens. You finally get to the other side and you stop for a moment to recap what just happened. Your palms are sweaty, your knees feel weak, and you’re breathing heavy.

The next day you are walking down the same sidewalk, and you begin to feel your heart race again, your knees weak, and a feeling that the same thing will happen again. This is known as anxiety symptoms.

Anxiety, therefore, is the same feeling as fear, but there is no danger to react to. With no specific threat, the anxiety is a free-floating, vague feeling. That's why it can be difficult to pinpoint and treat.

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