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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Seriously.

Sometimes I get really anxious, and then I just think, "but wait a minute, I feel so alive!"

I don't think anxiety is necessarily a bad thing. It's evolutionary function is related to our physical needs many years ago. I believe the reason so many people report anxiousness today is because they are not using their energy as much as our brain chemistry requires to be in a 'healthy' state. Reason being, western societies have heavily reduced the physical work a human undertakes.

Physical work is important for our mental health because of how it releases and using hormones that cause stress, and other chemicals that have positive hedonic values.

I think it's ironic that when feeling anxious, after confronting the thing I was anxious about, I feel on top of the world. It's a sense of relief.

Anxiety is a problem of anticipation. Expectation. You feel as though you 'should' be doing something else than what you are doing. Surely this can be motivation?

Where does the problem (i.e., the distress side of anxiety) lay, is it in society, or in the individual?
 

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That is a very interesting point. There actually are a few positve things about anxiety. I also do agree- doing the thing you were initally afraid of is one of the greatest feelings in the world :)
 

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I don't mean to second-guess your feelings, but it sounds like you feel excited or maybe stressed, not anxious, during those times. An anxiety attack is an intense irrational fear. It certainly doesn't make me feel very good :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
hi, maybe the difference being whether one feels they have power to do something about the threat, versus being powerless
This is an interesting point.

To respond to deeds14, though, I can assure you it's anxiety I'm feeling at the time. Sometimes I feel as though I'm about to faint right there on the spot.

It is thinking of the experience in this way that gives me the power to overcome it. I understand that I can feel excited, not afraid. In fact, the same chemicals present at the time in a situation, for e.g., the role of epenephrine in anxiety, can also be used to generate feelings of excitement. It only takes some cognition to alter the way chemicals are distributed in the brain.

This is where positive thinking is relevant. As I understand it, most prominent therapies do encourage positive thinking right there in the situation. CBT does. MCBT does.
 

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In fact, the same chemicals present at the time in a situation, for e.g., the role of epenephrine in anxiety, can also be used to generate feelings of excitement.
hi, that relates to the target of my current research: I don't believe that biochemically it is the same. Specifically, a lot of the difference lies between epinephrine and norepinephrine. People always use "fight or flight" as if they are the same, being eternally paired together.

Consider the difference between turning red/blushing versus going white with rage. Consider the difference between shaking with nervousness and exploding with physical power (you know, like the woman who lifts the car off her child... if that ever really happened).

Anyway, your original post did hit on the truth, and it also happens to be a view that is rare on these types of forums. The exhilaration and sense of pride that comes with overcoming fear is one of the best things there is.

But facing fears can also be dangerous. Lack of anxiety can, too.

Imagine we're all baboons sitting around in our troop in the forest. That super confident, laid back guy who never worries or is anxious? He's the one who just got carried off by the leopard, screaming the whole time :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
hi, that relates to the target of my current research: I don't believe that biochemically it is the same. Specifically, a lot of the difference lies between epinephrine and norepinephrine. People always use "fight or flight" as if they are the same, being eternally paired together.

Consider the difference between turning red/blushing versus going white with rage. Consider the difference between shaking with nervousness and exploding with physical power (you know, like the woman who lifts the car off her child... if that ever really happened).

Anyway, your original post did hit on the truth, and it also happens to be a view that is rare on these types of forums. The exhilaration and sense of pride that comes with overcoming fear is one of the best things there is.

But facing fears can also be dangerous. Lack of anxiety can, too.

Imagine we're all baboons sitting around in our troop in the forest. That super confident, laid back guy who never worries or is anxious? He's the one who just got carried off by the leopard, screaming the whole time :)
Thanks for the clarification.

And yeah, regarding your last point; this is where I ask the question: to what extent is social anxiety a problem with society than a problem in the individual. Industrial/Post-industrial societies have changed some aspects of human behaviour. For example, instead of hunting, farming or foraging, we find ourselves working in office-like environments, retail, services, finance etc. All of which don't involve a great deal of physical work, or even a great deal of thinking.

As is quite well known in healthcare now, decreases in physical activity affects mental health, like stress and depression.

So if we took as our premise that social anxiety was caused by some individual factor to a lesser extent, and society itself to a higher extent, then it begs a question on how finance is distributed in healthcare. Should we pour money into research and subsidizing drug companies trying to find some medical cures for anxiety so we can carry on living our (assuming western) overly 'privileged', comfortable lives. Or do we accept that anxiety is not a disease; it is natural, and there is no way to 'cure' it; but to prevent it by subsidizing more physical activity.

I believe the latter option would increase productivity too. Something our societies are shying away from, in preference for stupid unsustainable and mindless consumerism. In a way, I believe all these things are related; the ideological framework behind consumer capitalism and 'cures' targeted at individuals for complex conditions like anxiety, depression etc.
 

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I did this experiment last semester in college where I tried to change my mind to thinking my anxiety was like the anxiety I get on a rollercoaster. To me it basically feels the same. I get scared, nervous, my body gets tight, my heart starts pounding. Yet for some reason we go back on the rides because we enjoy the thrill of it. Every time I got anxious I just pictured that rollercoaster, and I actually enjoyed the day. The anxiety was still there, but I learned to feel differently about it. Unfortunately I been so busy with school work I forgot all about doing that until I read this post right now.
 

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As is quite well known in healthcare now, decreases in physical activity affects mental health, like stress and depression.
long ago, when the jogging craze got started, there was a Dr George Sheehan (the 'Running Doctor') who became famous and so was giving speeches. He would run before speaking, to burn off his energy/anxiety about giving the speeches. So he says in his books.

These days, there is an American tv show called "The Dog Whisperer". He treats problem/neurotic dogs. The first thing he does is take them for a long walk, to burn off their energy. Lifting weights is more rewarding in other ways.

When I first started treating myself years ago for SA, I'd take myself to the park and run... then could go up and talk to people.

"complex conditions like anxiety, depression" is so true, eh? Especially for hot reactors like myself. Attacking on all fronts seems to me like the only reasonable approach.
 

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Sometimes I get really anxious, and then I just think, "but wait a minute, I feel so alive!"
This is indicative of adrenaline dependency. You know, that wonderful feeling when you're being chased as a child and your parent "gets" you. I also see it in people who are chronically late: they revel in the manufactured excitement of it all.
I don't think anxiety is necessarily a bad thing. It's evolutionary function is related to our physical needs many years ago.
This I absolutely agree with. But the rest of your post seems like a grand rationalization.

The problem is feeling fear for a such a long period of time or in such intensity that it does not correlate to the actual threat. For example, if you are leaning over the edge of a 50-storey building, it's very adaptive to feel fear of harm. But if you feel like "something bad is going to happen" for a day or a week or a month or a year, that is not reasonable.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
This is indicative of adrenaline dependency. You know, that wonderful feeling when you're being chased as a child and your parent "gets" you. I also see it in people who are chronically late: they revel in the manufactured excitement of it all.
This I absolutely agree with. But the rest of your post seems like a grand rationalization.

The problem is feeling fear for a such a long period of time or in such intensity that it does not correlate to the actual threat. For example, if you are leaning over the edge of a 50-storey building, it's very adaptive to feel fear of harm. But if you feel like "something bad is going to happen" for a day or a week or a month or a year, that is not reasonable.
Well I did say before that anxiety is a complex condition. I don't believe that any fear is unreasonable if you gave consideration to classical conditioning and the way the human brain's cortical functions are highly associative. Anxiety is not a permanent state. While an individual might be anxious everyday throughout their whole life, it is always triggered by a pattern of stimuli, and its basis is more in conditioning (for e.g) than in disease or permanency, hence therapies aim at unconditioning anxiety. So what I'm saying is, giving the way the human brain works, which is never really in a straightforward computerized manner, any anxiety is just as reasonable as the next. All anxieties involve some type of predictions (conscious or unconscious) about what might happen and that it might have a negative outcome, whether this be social rejection, the raw experience of negative emotion or being eaten alive by a lion. The former, of course, being much more reasonable today than the latter.

The thing is, what kind of checks are there for outcomes in situations in social anxiety? This is what I think makes it long lasting. In conditioning, stimuli is usually paired with some kind of outcome. In general anxiety, this might be getting your leg ripped off by a tiger. Safe to say, you won't go near one again. But in social anxiety, is, for example, 'not being rejected' enough to confirm the anxiety? I think social anxiety produces self confirming attitudes, imagine a person goes out to a club, they may be feeling anxious about being rejected: this anxious feeling means they avoid interaction. But then that person feels odd and probably left out, since interaction is normal in that type of social situation and it would be hard not not observe it and not feel odd about being alone. So the anxiety has been paired with feeling negative. Imagine how they might be feeling about going to the club next time, and then it goes on an on, for days, weeks, months and years.
 

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When I take yoga, some of the exercises increase my heart rate. If I don't breathe deeply during these times, I become dizzy and start to feel sick. If I DO breathe deeply, I start to feel euphoric. I found the same thing happened to me before a social outing the other day. I was really nervous (had the butterflies and increased heart rate and all that) but then I steadily breathed in and out and I started to feel almost euphoric and it made me glad to be where I was. It was like my brain turned a switch from negative to positive thoughts just due to my physical euphoria.
 

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Totally know what you mean. I really that when I am feeling depressed/anxious, talking or connecting with someone seems so much more electric and like.... monumental. Sometimes I think that that is how human interaction is supposed to be like, rather than the bunch of inane bs smalltalk or idle chitchat that comsumes most people's social lives,

j

Seriously.

Sometimes I get really anxious, and then I just think, "but wait a minute, I feel so alive!"

I don't think anxiety is necessarily a bad thing. It's evolutionary function is related to our physical needs many years ago. I believe the reason so many people report anxiousness today is because they are not using their energy as much as our brain chemistry requires to be in a 'healthy' state. Reason being, western societies have heavily reduced the physical work a human undertakes.

Physical work is important for our mental health because of how it releases and using hormones that cause stress, and other chemicals that have positive hedonic values.

I think it's ironic that when feeling anxious, after confronting the thing I was anxious about, I feel on top of the world. It's a sense of relief.

Anxiety is a problem of anticipation. Expectation. You feel as though you 'should' be doing something else than what you are doing. Surely this can be motivation?

Where does the problem (i.e., the distress side of anxiety) lay, is it in society, or in the individual?
 

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Seriously.

Sometimes I get really anxious, and then I just think, "but wait a minute, I feel so alive!"

I don't think anxiety is necessarily a bad thing. It's evolutionary function is related to our physical needs many years ago. I believe the reason so many people report anxiousness today is because they are not using their energy as much as our brain chemistry requires to be in a 'healthy' state. Reason being, western societies have heavily reduced the physical work a human undertakes.

Physical work is important for our mental health because of how it releases and using hormones that cause stress, and other chemicals that have positive hedonic values.

I think it's ironic that when feeling anxious, after confronting the thing I was anxious about, I feel on top of the world. It's a sense of relief.

Anxiety is a problem of anticipation. Expectation. You feel as though you 'should' be doing something else than what you are doing. Surely this can be motivation?

Where does the problem (i.e., the distress side of anxiety) lay, is it in society, or in the individual?
Anxiety is a distraction from something we need or don't want to face. The key word is distraction.
 

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Interesting post. I also have thought about my anxiety the way you describe. I find I can be anxious and happy; what changes my mood is the way I look at it. For example, I get anxious when I sit around my apartment doing nothing, or I'll get anxious before something important. I literally have options on how I view my anxiety during these situations: non-constructively or constructively. I look at anxiety as an indicator for change. It's my body's way of telling me it's preparing itself for something it's anticipating, and I'm glad it does that. It's possible that SAers get an excess amount of anxiety because they aren't stimulated enough or used to a specific situation, and this anxiety is normal considering their position. Anxiety is actually a good thing to have but because some people link their anxiety to negative experiences do they become wary of it. It's like when you link something visual to an experience you feel that emotion -- it's like the same concept. For this reason, I find watching shows on animal training to be so intriguing, because the animals themselves must also go through this type of positive/negative associations to function "normally".
 

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Totally know what you mean. I really that when I am feeling depressed/anxious, talking or connecting with someone seems so much more electric and like.... monumental. Sometimes I think that that is how human interaction is supposed to be like, rather than the bunch of inane bs smalltalk or idle chitchat that comsumes most people's social lives,

j
I've been thinking about this lately and I feel like it's truthful in a lot of ways. When your anxious about something experiences become that much more "electric" or magnetic. A good example of this would be dating -- anxiety may lead to the couple being more energized about the interaction. Sometimes I wonder why I'm not curious in small talk or why I don't find interest in others, can anxiety be related? The right amount of anxiety can make us more focused and set on something in front of us, whereas an excess amount of anxiety can make us disoriented. If that is the case, I think anxiety can make these mundane experiences that much more interesting. That's good news because that would mean SAers are living pretty passionately!

Why shouldn't anxiety be the "normal" way of interacting with others? Anxiety invokes reactions that grab our attention. What more could you ask for if your bored with people?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I notice not everyone can relate to this, but for the people who can sort of imagine how cognitively changing the perspective of anxiety can make you deal with it better, I'd say let it be a driving force.

I agree with the above about anxiety and passion.
 

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I think anxiety is a natural human emotion. Everyone experiences it. However, just about everything in doses too large and become bad.
 
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