Why does the body have panic attacks and anxiety when it’s completely productive (I.e. paralyses the person in the face of a challenge)?

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Why does the body have panic attacks and anxiety when it’s completely productive (I.e. paralyses the person in the face of a challenge)?

In: Biology

Think of a cat freaking out when it sees a cucumber.

It’s an automatic flight or flight response that gets triggered by things your brain thinks is a threat – but isn’t.

The heart beats faster, pumping adrenaline around the body, making you feel anxious and want to run away or fight. Or turn to ways of dealing with it, like alcohol (which makes anxiety worse in the long run, leading to a vicious cycle).

This automatic response is part of the ‘animal’ part of your brain, which also deals with hunger, anger, loneliness, tiredness. It reacts quicker than the ‘logic’ part of your brain – the part that makes you, you. A technique to reduce anxiety is to do a quick scan of whether you’re hungry, angry, lonely or tired… or scared by cucumber. This puts the ‘logic’ part of your brain – you – back in the driving seat. Learning to control anxiety in this way is a skill that can be learnt, like any other skill.

Anti anxiety medication (like propranolol) works by stopping adrenaline from moving around your bloodstream as quickly. The cat has time to realise that the cucumber is just a cucumber.

Talk to your doctor. Anxiety is an actual thing that people have. It can be treated.