Anxiety and Trauma

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, such as worry or fear, that can be mild or severe (NHS 2022). Anxiety is a normal human emotion and everyone will experience anxiety from time to time. You may have a presentation coming up, you’re meeting a date or you’re about to take your driving test. All these experiences come with a natural degree of anxiety.

 

There is, however, a significant difference between having anxious moments, and experiencing anxiety on a daily basis such that it negatively interferes with your quality of life.

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Debilitating anxiety often occurs as a result of trauma (ADAA 2022). This could the result of childhood trauma or relationship trauma. To understand why this occurs we need to understand how the mind and brain works.

Anxiety is an assumption, that something now or in the future, which can be either real or imagined, is going to cause you more distress than it will benefits. In other words, there are more negatives to the situation compared to positives. Whenever you perceive more negatives than positives, your body will generate feedback symptoms of danger or threat – which we label as anxiety.

The brain makes ‘forecasts’ or ‘simulations’ about the future. This is primarily an evolutionary function – by forecasting future events the brain can predict energy expenditure and therefore ensure survival.

The brain makes these predictions or forecasts based on past experiences. As a result, when you experience a trauma – or multiple traumas over a period of time – this informs the brain certain situations are dangerous.

Based on this experiential data, whenever you encounter situations that are similar to, or symbolic of the traumatising event, the brain predicts danger and initiates a cascade of internal chemistry changes to ready you for the danger – symptoms of anxiety.

In order to resolve trauma-induced anxiety, it is necessary to reduce and resolve the impact of the traumatic events. When these events have been neutralised and integrated, two key changes occur:

To learn more about how trauma-induced anxiety can be resolved, download a free copy of ‘Accelerated Trauma Resolution’ by clicking the link below now.