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  • Derek Beres

Your mind is stronger than the anxiety it creates. Learn to shift your mindset.


Fear and anxiety disorders affect 20 percent of the American population, making these disorders the most prevalent psychiatric problem in the nation. While many understand anxiety as an overstimulated response system reacting to an uncertain environment, NYU Professor Joseph Ledoux believes this evolutionary argument is misguided.

We have not inherited feelings from our animal predecessors, he says, but rather inherited “mechanisms that detect and respond to threats." Consciousness plays a decisive role in how we translate messages we receive from our environment. In Anxious he writes,

"When these threat-processing mechanisms are present in a brain that can be conscious of its own activities, conscious feelings of fear or anxiety are possible; otherwise threat processing mechanisms motivate behavior but do not necessarily result in or involve feelings of fear and anxiety."

Anne Marie Albano, Professor of Medical Psychology and Director of Columbia University Clinic for Anxiety and Related Disorders, works with anxiety, which is actually her advice as well—work with it, not against it. Sensations of anxiety evolved to protect us. This system, she says, goes awry when you perceive immediate danger that isn't really there.

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