Tag Archives: Amygdala Based Anxiety

Reducing Amygdala-Based And Cortex-Based Anxiety

If we suffered significant childhood trauma in our youth, we are at increased risk, as adults, of suffering from anxiety – this increased risk can be due to damage the development of our brains incurred as a result of our traumatic childhood experiences.

Two regions of the brain, the development of which can be adversely affected in this way, are :

1) The cortex

2) The amygdala

Both of these brain regions play a central role in generating feelings of anxiety, but they generate this anxiety in different ways which I briefly describe below:

1) Cortex generated feelings of anxiety: feelings of anxiety that ORIGINATE in the cortex are usually due to maladaptive thought processes or distressing images; these include :

  • excessively negative thinking
  • excessive rumination/worry
  • obsessive thinking
  • perfectionist-type thinking
  • excessive self-criticism
  • catastrophization
  • thoughts leading to feelings of excessive shame and guilt
  • jumping to negative conclusions
  • erroneously interpreting neutral situations as negative situations
  • always imagining (sometimes in the form of distressing mental images)/expecting the worst possible outcome (this is sometimes referred to as anticipatory anxiety)

2) Amygdala generated feelings of anxiety : feelings of anxiety yhat ORIGINATE in the amygdala often involve :

  • sudden, unexpected feelings of aggression
  • sudden, unexpected aggressive acts (e.g. hitting someone ‘before you realize what you’ve done‘)
  • clouded/foggy thinking
  • rapid onset of physiological symptoms (sweating, racing heart-beat etc)

Different Types Of Anxiety Respond To Different Interventions

It is very useful to know whether the anxiety one experiences originates in the cortex or amygdala as some interventions are best for dealing with cortex-based anxiety whilst others are best for dealing with amygdala-based anxiety. I list these different interventions below :

Ways Of Dealing With Cortex-Based Anxiety :

  • distraction (any activity that distracts you from distressing thoughts/images)
  • try not to be concerned about what others think (if you experience anxiety in company you are likely to believe your symptoms are far more apparent to others than, in reality, they are)
  • try not to constantly worry about panic attacks (easier said then done for many, but constantly anticipating one is going to have a panic attack can increase the likelihood of such an occurrence)
  • remind yourself that the bodily sensations of anxiety cannot harm you (some people, whilst experiencing extreme anxiety, feel they are going insane or are going to die – remind yourself that feelings of anxiety can’t harm you in this way)
  • cognitive-behavioural therapy (a therapy that helps correct faulty and maladaptive ways of thinking)

Ways Of Dealing With Amygdala-Based Anxiety :

  • deep breathing exercises
  • physical exercise
  • systematic muscle relaxation exercises
  • mindfulness
  • self-hypnosis

eBooks :

     depression and anxiety

 

Above eBooks now available from Amazon for instant download. Click here.

David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).

 

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