“All of us at anxietycentre.com have experienced debilitating anxiety. But we’ve also overcome it and returned to normal and lasting health. Because we know the hardship anxiety unwellness can cause, we are committed to helping others, with over 30 years of service.” - Jim Folk, President, anxietycentre.com

Two Levels of Anxiety Unwellness Recovery - Part 1

Marilyn Folk BScN medical reviewer
Written by: Jim Folk.
Medically reviewed by: Marilyn Folk, BScN.
Updated: May 11, 2019

Many people view anxiety as being an "IT": a force, disease, illness, or genetic problem that takes control of our bodies, minds, health, and lives. But anxiety is not an "IT." We create anxiety when we behave in an apprehensive manner (imagining something bad or harmful may happen).

Behaving in an apprehensive manner activates the body’s stress response. The stress response secretes stress hormones into the bloodstream where they travel to targeted spots in the body to bring about specific physiological, psychological, and emotional changes that enhance the body’s ability to deal with danger  - to either fight or flee – which is why the stress response is often referred to as the fight or flight response.

When we behave apprehensively too often, however, the body can become overly stressed. A body that's overly stressed can become symptomatic. Therefore, anxiety symptoms are actually symptoms of stress. We call them anxiety symptoms because behaving apprehensively is the main source of the stress that causes the body to become overly stressed and symptomatic.

Because we choose the behaviors we use - even though our behaviors can sometimes seem automatic - we CREATE anxiety when we CHOOSE to behave in an apprehensive manner. Choosing apprehensive behavior too often and/or dramatically is generally the cause of problematic anxiety (anxiety unwellness/anxiety disorder) and its stress response consequences (an overly stressed body that has become symptomatic).

Therefore, to overcome problematic anxiety (anxiety unwellness/anxiety disorder), we need to replace apprehensive behavior with non-apprehensive behavior and give the body ample time to recover from its overly stressed state (which we call stress-response hyperstimulation). When we choose healthy behavior rather than apprehensive behavior, we cease producing anxiety and its stress response consequences.

So the good news is we CAN successfully treat anxiety unwellness simply by learning how. The bad news, however, is that doing so requires getting the right information, seeking help, and working at it. Since anxiety is caused by apprehensive behavior, WE have to be the ones to change our behavior. No one else can do that for us.

Unfortunately, many of those who develop anxiety unwellness become afraid of the physiological, psychological, and emotional changes the stress response brings about. So they become afraid of the FEELINGS of being afraid and/or afraid of the CONSEQUENCES of being afraid. These fears are also apprehensive behavior….which can set up a negative cycle of anxiety, stress, symptoms, anxiety, stress, symptoms, and so on.

In a sense, many anxious personalities become afraid of being afraid and how that feels.
For many anxiety unwellness sufferers, recovery, then, requires two stages, or as we call it, “Two Levels of Recovery.”

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The combination of good self-help information and working with an experienced anxiety disorder therapist is the most effective way to address anxiety disorder and its many symptoms. Until the core causes of anxiety are addressed - the underlying factors that motivate apprehensive behavior - a struggle with anxiety disorder can return again and again. Identifying and successfully addressing anxiety's underlying factors is the best way to overcome problematic anxiety.

Additional Resources:

Return to our Anxiety Frequent Questions page.

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