How We Unlock Anxiety

Jerry Kennard Health Pro
  • If you're someone who suffers with anxiety the chances are you've been categorized, and not just medically. It's a natural inclination and you've no doubt done it yourself, and even about yourself. Maybe you're viewed as sensitive, thin-skinned or emotionally delicate? Questions may be asked as to whether you were always like this?


    It's evident there are differences between people as to their abilities to withstand anxiety. Some people can trace their anxiety right back to childhood. It follows them through adolescence and then into adulthood. Yet others seem to storm ahead in life only to be struck by anxiety like some bolt out of the blue. Events and situations previously disregarded or viewed as trivia suddenly morph into things to be feared and avoided.

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    We know that for anxiety conditions to appear and flourish certain conditions have to be met. One of these is almost certainly a genetic predisposition to anxiety. One way of thinking about anxiety disorders is to imagine your brain as a series of filing cabinets. Let's say one of these is safely locking away some mood disorder and is protected by a 3-barrel tumbler lock. If you have a genetic predisposition to anxiety you're already a third of the way into unlocking what's inside. Now add some environmental stressors and ‘click' you've found the second number. With the lock now two-thirds of the way open, it doesn't take much to find the final number. A cluster of events, or something quite trivial, might be all it takes for the lock to open and that's it, the contents spill out in the form of an anxiety disorder.


    Early life experiences also appear to be important factors for increasing vulnerability to anxiety and depression. The biological basis of attachment theory, for example, seems to be linked with the development of a part of the brain called the pre-frontal cortex. This area of the brain is regarded as one of the key structures in the development of anxiety disorders. Dr. Allan Schore has been described as "the world's leading expert in neuropsychoanalysis." Schore pulls together important findings on the attachment between mother and child, made famous by John Bowlby, and shows how separation can actually affect brain development. Central to Schore's work is the finding that positive emotional bonding causes the release of endorphins that encourage brain development. Neglected babies have smaller prefrontal cortexes than normal.


    There's nothing anyone can do about their formative years but knowing this is just part of the reason underpinning anxiety disorders gives scope for self-help or professionally guided strategies to alleviate symptoms.



    Dr. Allan Schore.

Published On: April 22, 2011