Anxiety For No Reason
Anxiety for no reason is a very common complaint from my psychotherapy patients and coaching clients. Sometimes this complaint will come from those who have mastered the symptoms of anxiety and suddenly it seems to reappear out of nowhere.
The symptoms we feel when we experience anxiety: heart racing, hard to breathe or hyperventilating a tight chest, upset gut and even tingling in our extremities, are a direct result of two elevated cortisol and adrenaline in our system. Adrenaline and cortisol are hormones or naturally occurring drugs. A small primal part of your brain is responsible for this release and it is called your amygdala.
It would not matter if you’re amygdala decided to release these hormones or if the doctor injected them into you. You would still experience the same symptoms.
The job of our amygdala is to be constantly scanning for danger, and when it senses that you may be entering into something dangerous it releases these hormones to:
- Get your attention and
- Physically get you ready to run or fight.
But what if it seems like you are getting anxiety for no reason? Suddenly the symptoms of these two hormones being injected into your system make no sense?
There are one of two good reasons:
- Your amygdala has worked so hard for so long that it is trigger happy.
- It is working as your superpower and notices something you don’t. (Ever shaken someone’s hand and thought, “This person is bad news?” Or suddenly decided not to turn down that dark alley? Or just KNEW your kid was in trouble?)
With a trigger-happy amygdala, remember, this is a PRIMAL part of your brain. It does not reason (that is a different part of your brain). It is like a very young child who may be afraid of the dark. No amount of pressure or reasoning is going to change this child’s belief or your amygdala’s belief!
If it is your superpower kicking in, be darn grateful this system may have just saved your life! In fact, if we somehow removed your amygdala the odds of you surviving a day are very slim. You need your amygdala, you just want him to chill a bit and stop working so hard and so often!
In both cases, give your amygdala exactly what it wants! I coach clients give their amygdala a name, I call mine ‘Homer,’ and to say out loud:
“Homer, you want my attention. You’ve got it!”
“Homer, you want to keep me safe. I am going to help!”
And do just that, look around and do what you may need to do to feel safe, even if you can’t see an obvious reason. Move to a more comfortable spot, lock your doors, look both ways, or even check under the bed for monsters! Remember, Homer is like very young child having a meltdown, treat him with love and care. You yell at him or even push back by wishing he was not doing what he is doing, and it is only going to escalate.
Then kick in your thought management and emotional regulation tools. There is an easy to learn process called the Anxiety Release Protocol (ARP) which incorporates a ton of tools that lower your adrenaline and cortisol and even convince your Homer to stop working so hard.
At www.TheAnxiety.Clinic we founded ARP and teach it to our patients, clients and other coaches and mental health workers.
If you want to master ARP and put an end to your anxiety symptoms, particularly what feels like that anxiety for no reason, book an appointment with us online. We can meet you in person at our offices on the campus of the University of Toronto, or virtually online through a secure video meeting.
One of the things I learned many years ago, and deeply embrace as a psychotherapist, is the power of continually learning. There are so many wins in being a “learn it all” as opposed to a “know it all!”
In an attempt to treat my own anxiety and panic I sought out help and wisdom from everyone and everywhere I could think of, family, friends, psychotherapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, my family doctor, and the local university research library
How many times have you said to yourself the next day, or even the moment after something came out of your mouth: “Darn, I shouldn’t have said that!” Imagine how your life might be if you were able to talk and even have a heated debate, and never mis-speak?