The One Thing All Types of Anxiety Have In Common
Updated: Jan 3
What is common to all types of anxiety?
This is, in fact, the defining characteristic of anxiety.
And it is encapsulated in one word. Fear.
At the heart of all types of anxiety is fear of something. This fear may be described or experienced by the person in a few different ways such as apprehension, dread, uneasiness, threat, danger.
Underlying all types of anxiety there is some perception of danger or threat to you, some kind of threat to your safety, wellbeing or life.
So the experience of anxiety involves you perceiving a situation where you may not be safe.
Your body then reacts to that threat in a way that has been physiologically developed through evolution - a heightened state of readiness to respond to danger, commonly known as ‘the flight or flight’ response.
Along with this bodily tension and activation, you experience the mental aspects of this state in many different ways, such a general mental tension, narrowed and heightened focus, rigid narrow thinking, worry and so on. Emotionally, you may actually feel scared, out of control, on edge, nervous, uneasy etc.
These elements combine to affect your behaviour, leading you to change your behaviour in relation to the source of the anxiety, such as doing or not dong things that would otherwise be the case if you were not anxious.
This in turn can lead to what you believe are coping mechanisms but which may actually serve to reinforce the anxiety.
So in a general sense, anxiety is based on fear and the anxiety itself is the response to that fear.