How Does Anxiety Work?



hey brain stuff it's cristen conger here and listen i get anxious you get anxious I mean I'm anxious right now but hey it's a totally normal and healthy response that keeps us from doing things that might actually be dangerous like sticking your hand in a fire but when anxiety is so pervasive that it interferes with your daily life it becomes a disorder and most researchers believe that that disorder begins in your brain there are several types of anxiety disorders phobias PTSD and OCD are just a few but let's focus today on general anxiety disorder which affects close to 7 million adults and is twice as likely in women maybe you're worried about money health family or work and despite reality you'll expect the worst the symptoms include restlessness fatigue difficulty concentrating irritability muscle tension and sleep disturbances and the symptoms officially become a disorder when you can't control your worry for at least six months you may still be social or even employed or even hosting YouTube videos but people with general anxiety disorder can have difficulty carrying out even the simplest of daily activities experts believe that general anxiety disorder is caused by both biological factors and life experiences or a combination of nature and nurture my anxiety is also recognized by many as an emotional response with neurobiological roots in your brain simply put the neural pathways in our brain sometimes lead to irrational anxiety and stressful situations encourage us to develop associations with those pathways by influencing which neuro chemicals pass through them the same way you learn to tie your shoes you can also learn to be anxious one stressful thing like being stuck in traffic leads you to think of another stressful thing like a car crash you survived activating a part of the brain stem called the locus coeruleus this triggers symptoms of anxiety by releasing norepinephrine in your spinal cord in parts of your brain while hormones like adrenaline and cortisol spread through your body it's supposed to initiate an analgesic response to suppress pain and initiate defense when you're under threat like if you were actually in a car crash and injured but when there isn't an actual threat all we're left with are the jitters of anxiety now we don't have enough time in this episode for a full accounting of the treatments available for anxiety disorders but you should know that only one-third of people suffering from anxiety are actually getting help even though it's highly manageable treatment usually involves a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy aka talking to a therapist and medications to relieve the symptoms other treatments include relaxation techniques like meditation improve nutrition exercise and adequate sleep some medications will temporarily change your brain chemistry although some dispute that but they're not a cure for anxiety for that you'll need to change your neural pathways associations by learning new behaviors through therapy this method of learning new everyday strategies can be slow going and repetitious but scans show that you can literally change your brain with enough practice so do you suffer from anxiety and if so how do you manage it let us know in the comments and for more about brain chemistry psychology and total dread make sure to visit us at howstuffworks.com

49 comments

  1. I used to think I was having random anxiety attacks, but it turned out to be Fragrance Sensitivity, & things like hairspray, perfume, & cat litter dust were making my chest tight & my heart race.

  2. that "talking to a therapist" part may cost 60-200$ per visit(depending on insurance)… its not impossible to access , but not always affordable.

  3. The statement she made here, "The same way you learn to tie your shoes, you can also learn to be anxious.", is a loaded statement.

    As a child we are taught step by step a sequence to interweave laces to hold our shoes together firmly, and then repeat the task over and over everyday for years… also as a child [or even later in life], we are taught certain social behaviors that we replicate everyday for years. We end up conditioning, not only our own responses to situations, but also our anticipation of those situations, which then are conditioned to have anxiety. Once you find the triggers of association you can stop the cycle… easier said than done, of course 👌

  4. do u think habits such as eating junfood, playing video games, porn , alcohol, drugs, and social media. causes anxiety and depression?? i have read long term effect of these habits van have give the brain chemical imbalance.

  5. things that may help :

    1. Breathe in, and out. Just do it, deeply.

    2. Get roughh, look serious and feel a bit angry. Be a lion, be slightly agressive. Put pressure on your eyes, push your lips.

    3. Listen to Sadhgurus video : How to be fearless. Its on youtube.

    4. Meditate. Be philosophical.

    5. Be African, no fear allowed.

    6. Listen to gangstarap, Ice Cube – gangstarap made me do it. Its about doing it, no fucks given.

    7. Listen to music with powerfull messages.

    8. Confront it.

  6. I got anxiety as a feel, also through thinking pf several stuff like about future, worried about anxiety, but the thing is talking with people, sharing all of your thoughts would definitely helped me, also mindfulness, listening to some therapists on youtube also helped me

  7. hello, is this channel no longer making videos? 🙁 -if this is the case, I will miss you BrainStuff!

  8. I cope with anxiety by listening to my favorite music, reading quotes and expressing gratitude to God who did not put me in this earth to stay anxious but to use it as a source of direction.

  9. Is it weird that if sometimes if I look at one corner of the room I have to look at the others the be relieved then repeat again. Is that anxiety idk 😂😂

  10. I’m 34 and I’ve suffered from severe anxiety since I was a child. If I’m still alive, it’s cuz I don’t have the freakin’ guts to off myself. So resentful at life, it feels me with rage.

  11. I had social and general anxiety in my twenties. I did NOFAP, stayed away from alcohol binging. I have hobbies, i am very passionate about. It is almost gone. Anxiety leve decreased from 80% to 20-15%.

    For me the key was nofap.

  12. I remember my first panic attack my worst I called 911 I was told I had panic disorder with temporary hypertension (high blood pressure) medicine did not help Nothing Did i felt hopeless i remember i just wanted to end my life because I would have 6 or more attacks in one day and every one felt like my heart was going to give out ( hard to explain ) one day i found a app call excel at life on Play store i clicked on panic assistance audio (life changer) you must list to the full audio its worth a try for anyone who suffers . Don't give up there is home . If you have not had a panic attack its horrible .

  13. I have been suffering from anxiety for about a year. The first four months it was pretty severe. I would have bad mood swings, dizziness, confusion, lack of concentration and tired. But those months I didn't know what it was what I was having. So I searched for it online and found out that it was anxiety. I watched whole bunch of videos on YouTube and I started sharing my experiences with anxiety online and ever since then it hasn't been so severe only minor. It's your own mindset. Only you can decide what to do.

  14. Hey there, you may take the piss out of me but i have had some severe anxiety for a while now. I have long since managed to delocalise the problem of what im thinking about but the feeling of underlying depression is still there. it usually takes the form of an unriddable knot between my shoulder blades which i cannot get rid of whatever i do. it follows the cycle of waking up early, going into school fine, then breaking down at school, coming home feeling ok and going to bed feeling ok. Please, if you have any way of helping me i would owe you so much because all my teachers and parents are deeply concerned for me and anxiety disorder is consuming my life. I dont know how much longer i can go on like this and even while writing this i am feeling it. i just need some friends because then i would not feel like this. however i find it very hard to make firends and have a naturally divergent brain which tries to make everything i learn in school overcomplicated and non-useful. i am starting to give up. its the worst its ever been now because i have become so numb. i dont even know why im writing this but i cant worry my parents even more. Please…if you can, or know how to help me despite whether my mind will let me because it is really trying not to, i would owe you everything!
    Thank you, and i am so sorry you had to see this

  15. Wow i didnt know i had sometimes anxiety until today because i think during 6 and 7 th grade i had anxiety and was worried about school and in 6th grade it happened more and my mom bought vitamins to help me fall asleep and it kinda did become a problem but not that much but my stomach felt like what it feels like to be hungry for awhile except i wasnt hungry i was worried and i stayed up for more than 2 hours because of it even though i closed my eyes

  16. I have ptsd and it is triggered by everything from​ sounds to being touched when I'm not expecting it or in an inappropriate way.

  17. If you pop down to your local pharmacy and get some St Johns Wort pills or tablets, within one week you'll be amazed at the difference. Trust me, it works.

  18. I have Anxiety, OCD, ADHD and Tourette syndrome when its all together it sucks I have not took medicine for it because they react with eachother

  19. Since I am 12 and I have trouble anxiety I can't really control it because I don't know how. It la going to take me time to find the right therapist because I need to find the right one that can understand I'm a child so I keep researching but I can't control it any helpful tips?

  20. what triggers anxiety?

    i notice that i get extremely upset when someone screams at me, laughs at me or takes something i care about from me.

    i start crying, get this weard pain in my chest, my legs feel numb, it feels as if there is this pressure comming from inside my brain , my troath closes (wel atleast it feels as if it closes, but thats probably just an idea) and sometimes my legs feel so numb that i have to hold on ti something.

    and on very few occasions i kinda get this feeling, that you also get when you are sick. that your skin feels really fragile and sensitive and everything feels sharp and rough

  21. I manage it by drawing, listening to music, or working on something of interest. I just hate falling back to anxiety, which causes more anxiety cuz I'm anticipating it

  22. This girl knows nothing about anxiety. The Amygdala is responsible for firing these symptoms that people with General, Panic, and OCD feel. When the Amygdala fires these symptoms on a more consistent level, it releases cortisol, which makes you restless, gives you fatigue, and sometimes slightly panicky feelings.

  23. i suffer from anxiety and only thing that helped me was constant exercise and taking Lorazepam time to time.

  24. I wonder if my fear of driving is associated with anxiety. It's strange because when that fear started I had never been in a car accident. I was in one last year a very minor one, thank God. But even that didn't make my fear worsen. I hate driving period and even though I'm 15, I'm in no hurry to drive. I get anxious when we are driving past a car exit or a neighborhood and I can't see a car. Then when one juts out I panic thinking it won't stop and I look away. There is no way I could be driving now! I'm very nervous when my mom (who is a great driver) looks at her phone for even one second and I order her to put it away. Though I love my phone, it will always be in my bag if and when I drive. I bet this is anxiety, but I just want to know were the fear came from.

  25. I have general anxiety disorder and it's very severe. I mostly manage it with medication and therapy but from time to time I get anxiety attacks that are debilitating

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