Our inbuilt risk management system can malfunction.

In last week’s blog post I said that our inbuilt Risk Management System can malfunction and generate unhelpful, unnecessary anxiety. This anxiety can become a problem for us and stop us from functioning normally. When that happens, we may be diagnosed as having an ‘anxiety disorder.’

Worries and our imagination.

There are two inputs into our internal Risk Management System – worries concerning future harm to our wellbeing and imagined future scenarios in which our wellbeing is harmed. Our brain processes what we think and imagine in the same way as it processes data we receive through our senses.

Worrying is normal and is an important component in our Risk Management System. However, when we develop a habit of worrying about, and/or imagining, future threats that are unlikely to eventuate or, if they do, will have little or no impact on our wellbeing, we can find ourselves experiencing chronic, unnecessary anxiety.

Unhelpful worry habits are labelled ‘disorders’.

Anxiety disorders manifest in many different ways involving a wide range of symptoms. Some symptoms are unique to the type of anxiety disorder or to the individual. These are some of the most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorders.

Generalised Anxiety Disorder: A person worries all the time about almost everything. They imagine ordinary situations to be risks. This habit is also called ‘Free Floating Anxiety.’

Social Anxiety Disorder: A person worries that they will be evaluated negatively by others.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: A person worries that unless they engage in ritualised activities e.g., checking locks many times, washing their hands excessively, engaging in excessive cleaning then they, or someone they care about, will be harmed in some way.

Phobia: A person worries about the possible harm to their wellbeing caused by a specific future event, person, thing. There is no end of events, people, and things we can perceive as risks to our wellbeing. Common examples include insects, heights, plane crashes, confined spaces, injections. Less common examples are buttons and clowns.

Each anxiety disorder is a unique experience.

Each of these anxiety disorders is a unique experience, comprising particular physical symptoms, and they each drive particular behaviours such as avoidance.

Anxiety disorders are common.

The current worldwide occurrence for anxiety disorders is 7.3 per cent of people, suggesting that one person in every 14 around the globe has a diagnosed anxiety disorder at any one point in time. It is estimated that 11 – 22 per cent of the world’s population will suffer with an anxiety disorder in any one-year period (Bromet et al., 2011; Baxter et al., 2013); that’s up to 1 in 5 people.

Many people, including some well-known individuals, have suffered with anxiety disorders, including singers Adele, Robbie Williams and Justin Timberlake, actors Jennifer Lawrence, Johnny Depp and Scarlett Johansson, and sports people such as the former All Black John Kirwan and footballer David Beckham.

Anxiety disorders can be overcome

The good news is that there are effective ways to overcome anxiety disorders. There are a range of techniques that when practiced can:

  • reduce or stop unhelpful worry habits and misuse of the imagination.
  • build better thinking habits.
  • switch off the overactive Threat Response and switch on the Rest and Digest Response.
  • reduce or eliminate the physical symptoms that form part of the feeling of anxiety.
  • regulate the emotions that form part of the anxiety feeling

Is it time to free yourself from your big bad anxiety?

If you are suffering with anxiety and want to get your mojo back and start enjoying life again, let’s have a conversation to explore how I can help you. To schedule your no obligation 15-to-30-minute conversation with me via ZOOM just click HERE. Alternatively, you can call/text me on 021 056 8389.

~ Tony


I’m on a mission to help as many people as possible enjoy lives free of unnecessary stress and anxiety. If you’d like my help, or you know someone who would benefit, call/text me today on 021 056 8389 or email tony@tycoaching.nz


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