In 2016, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America reported that 40 million adults were living with an anxiety disorder and that 1 out of every 8 children either has had, or will have, an anxiety disorder in their lifetime (National Institute of Mental Health, 2016). Furthermore, in 2013, 2,132,625 children aged 0-17 were taking anti-anxiety medications in the United States (IMS, Vector One National [VONA] and Total Patient Tracker [TPT] Database). These astounding statistics tell us that anxiety is impacting both adults and children like never before.
Recent work emerging from the field of neuroscience indicates that anxiety does not develop within individuals, but rather is a response between people and their environment. Neuroscientists LeDoux and Pine (2016) suggested that anxiety stems from a reciprocal (back and forth) process that works to maintain a system’s stability. This new research is intriguing in that previously, anxiety was seen to be a “cause and effect” event that spontaneously occurred inside certain people. We now understand that anxiety results from two-way interaction processes that are also impacted by the situation’s context (i.e. – what else is happening in the moment) as well as by a person’s perception of the situation.
The good news about this shift in understanding is that having anxiety is no longer thought to be a lifelong sentence. By identifying contexts, processes, and perceptions we held which contribute to the development of our anxiety, we can begin to make changes in both ourselves and in our environments leading to a stronger sense of internal self-management. We also learn the difference between those things we cannot change and those we can. Once understood we can work towards accepting things we can’t control and focus our thinking toward changing things that we can.
Whether experiencing “acute” (short-term) anxiety in response to an identified stressor, or “chronic” (on-going) anxiety about the worst thing that might happen in the future, dealing with anxiety can be exhausting and all-consuming. At New Legends, we are here to help you better understand your anxiety and take steps towards managing it. Call today for an appointment.
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LeDoux, J. E., & Pine, D. S. (2016). Using neuroscience to help understand fear and anxiety: A two-system framework [Supplemental material]. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 1-11. Doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1176/appi.ajp.2016.16030353