Anxiety, The Lizard Brain, and How You Can Take Back Control in a World Without Dinosaurs
Anxiety is one of the most common mental health conditions. In fact, there are approximately three million cases diagnosed a year in the United States. Furthermore, the age range for those diagnosed with anxiety for the first time is 14 to 60 years old. Given this information, I’m often astounded at how little those who are suffering with anxiety, know about the condition. This is usually to no fault of their own. Some people who are being treated for anxiety by their PCPs may not have the opportunity to have an in depth discussion about the topic. Others may be given a one-pager along with a script for meds. Whatever the case may be, I think it is almost always helpful to know the why, before a problem can be solved. Admitttedly, this has caused me some distress in life-but I digress.
What Is Anxiety Anyway?-The Science
Think of Anxiety as being the result of the faulty wiring of natural survival mechanisms. Humans come equipped with built in capabilities meant to keep us alive. A lot of the structures that house this wiring live in what some of us like to call the “Lizard” part of our brain. That is, the part of our brain that developed first, and was necessary to protect us from dinosaurs or whatever when we lived in the wild.
As time went on, we evolved, and our brain developed more advanced capabilities. Hence, our ability to reason, communicate with language, etc. But, just because we developed all of these awesome things that make it cool to be human, doesn’t mean our Lizard isn’t still firing away. You know, trying to stay relevant and protect us.