Fear and anxiety are part of being alive, just as all emotions are. Fear and anxiety alert us to dangers and thereby exert an important protective function. Without anxiety and fear survival would be impossible.
However, sometimes our fear system loses its 'fine-tuning'. Consider a car alarm. A car alarm is undoubtedly a usful device. However, sometimes it sounds the alarm not when break-ins are about to happen but when there is a strong wind, or a lorry passes by or a cat jumps on the roof of the car. This means the car alarm shows the right reaction but at the wrong moments. Similarly our fear system may show the right reaction at the wrong moments and react in situations that are harmless but feel dangerous. All of us try to reduce fear and anxiety or to avoid it altogether. This is understandable and natural. However, in the long run the strategies we use to reduce fear and anxiety such as avoidance and safety-seeking behaviours may actually become counterproductive and maintain or even increase fear and anxiety. A vicious circle of anxiety and avoidance and safety-seeking behaviour may follow. When this happens quality of life can suffer which in turn may result in depression and reduced self-confidence.
Fear and anxiety problems are very, very common. About 15-20% of the population have problems that lead to a significant reduction in quality of life. Unfortunately there is often a long delay between start of the problems and appropriate treatment and without treatment anxiety and fear problems tend to run a chronic course. The good news is, however, that there are effective treatments available. The effectiveness of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) for example has been demonstrated in many, many studies. Anxiety and fear problems can often be overcome or substantially reduced in as little as 8-12 sessions.
Different types of anxiety and fear problems have been described such as panic attacks, obsessive compulsive disorder or general anxiety. However, both in understanding and overcoming the different types of anxiety and fear problems a lot of common factors and principles play a role. I hope you will find the information about the different types of anxiety and fear problems on these pages useful.
If you have anxiety and fear that gets in the way of living your life as you would like to please don't delay seeking effective treatment.