Anxious people often feel as if they are going crazy because they feel uptight and stressed even when there is no rational reason for them to be feeling that way. They recognize the feeling of anxiety and yet can find nothing that they are actually worried about.
This is why education about anxiety is so important. Because of the fear feeling, the anxious person is always scanning their internal or external environment for possible danger to validate the feeling being experienced. And if you are looking for it, you will always find it! You may perceive that the danger comes from what others think of you, or the friend who ignored you, or the comment that someone has made. Your brain, on high alert, finds negativity in everything around you. You may start to stress about the assignment you have not completed, the friend you have just offended or the mess at home you have not cleaned up.
The anxious person has a stronger and faster adrenalin response to any perceived threat, than anyone else. This may be because of an innate sensitivity (you may be born like that) or because of exposure to personal trauma that then sensitizes the brain. The strong adrenalin response, although extremely unpleasant, is designed to keep you safe.
The adrenalin arousal is simply that – an arousal of the nervous system due to the brain assessing that something is not right. The anxious person will usually identify the feeling and then dwell on the “danger”, in turn creating more adrenalin. The negative thinking escalates the adrenalin arousal, fueling the “feeling” that bad things are going to happen. (if there is nothing bad about things in the present, then obviously the problem is about to happen. For example, this relationship is bound to break up. Or, I am just waiting for the boss to fire me.)
Anxious people must differentiate between an adrenalin feeling and genuine anxiety. Without this awareness, the feelings are the same. But an adrenalin arousal, which is a physical sensation, goes away if left alone. It becomes anxiety when you attach thought to the feeling that then escalates the amount of adrenalin, in turn escalating negative thought. This is the perpetual worry cycle.
If you have an arousal, and your body feels just awful, think about how your body feels after exercise. Following exercise, you have an altered body state – changed breathing, sweaty skin, flushed face, racing heart. But you are not afraid of that altered state, because you associate it with exercise and you know that after a few minutes rest, you will return to normal. To combat adrenalin arousals, use the same strategy. Identify the feeling – racing heart, sweaty, changed breathing – and say, “This feels awful but it is just an adrenalin arousal. This is how my body is when it has a surge of adrenalin. Nothing to be concerned about. My body will return to normal in a few minutes so long as I do not fuel it with fearful thoughts.”
Many sensitive people suffer anxiety and consider it a curse. The ability to pick up real dangers in the environment (and the sensitive person is usually quite intuitive, because of their “on guard” feeling), however, can be a blessing for themselves and others. They will be able to pick up when people or environments are “not quite right” and steer clear, avoiding potential issues or financial scams.