As soon as you recognize fear, your amygdala (small organ in the middle of your brain) goes to work. It alerts your nervous system, which sets your body’s fear response into motion. Stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline are released. Your blood pressure and heart rate increase.
A threat stimulus, such as the sight of a predator, triggers a fear response in the amygdala, which activates areas involved in preparation for motor functions involved in fight or flight. It also triggers release of stress hormones and sympathetic nervous system.
It is programmed into the nervous system and works like an instinct. From the time we’re infants, we are equipped with the survival instincts necessary to respond with fear when we sense danger or feel unsafe. Fear helps protect us. It makes us alert to danger and prepares us to deal with it.
The body produces cortisol in response to fear or stress. This hormone inhibits insulin production, so the muscles have immediate energy. After the frightening situation is over, the hormone balance returns to normal. This is one reason many people feel butterflies, upset stomach, or sometimes nausea when afraid.
Even so, our brains are hardwired for fear — it helps us identify and avoid threats to our safety. The key node in our fear wiring is the amygdala, a paired, almond-shaped structure deep within the brain involved in emotion and memory.
Anxiety can be caused by a variety of things: stress, genetics, brain chemistry, traumatic events, or environmental factors. Symptoms can be reduced with anti-anxiety medication. But even with medication, people may still experience some anxiety or even panic attacks.
Fear is a thought process that triggers the fight or flight response. So, fear itself is imagined only (but does cause real physiological, psychological, and emotional consequences due to the triggered stress response and how stress responses affect the body and mind).
Facing their fear of identity loss (ego-death), the shame of troubling others (loss of autonomy), fear of losing loved ones or loved ones losing them (separation), and the fear of death itself (extinction), their journeys tap into and explore humanity’s primal fears.
When you are under stress or anxious, this system kicks into action, and physical symptoms can appear — headaches, nausea, shortness of breath, shakiness, or stomach pain.
Each amygdala is located close to the hippocampus, in the frontal portion of the temporal lobe. Your amygdalae are essential to your ability to feel certain emotions and to perceive them in other people. This includes fear and the many changes that it causes in the body.
Through one fear, by observing it in the sense of the observer being the observed, then you will see for yourself that through one fear you discover the very root of all fear. By looking at one fear you discover the very root of all fear.
You could call it existential angst and behind it is a fear of death. However, to be anxious about one’s demise, ultimately, is to fear life in itself as one cannot separate one from the other. Existential theorists would argue that at the root of all anxiety is ultimately a fear of death.
Although the focus of the response is different (real vs. imagined danger), fear and anxiety are interrelated. When faced with fear, most people will experience the physical reactions that are described under anxiety. Fear can cause anxiety, and anxiety can cause fear.
Yet there is no consensus in the scientific study of fear. Some argue that “fear” is a psychological construct rather than discoverable through scientific investigation. Others argue that the term “fear” cannot properly be applied to animals because we cannot know whether they feel afraid.
That signal is relayed to the thalamus, a telephone switching station in your brain, and then directly to the amygdala, which releases neurotransmitters throughout the body — notably glutamate, essentially the chemical behind fear.
Adding exercise, meditation, diaphragmatic breathing, or a worry break into your day may help ease your mind. But if anxiety, nervousness, or worrying becomes excessive or begins to impact your life, it might be time to seek professional help.
When you’re afraid or anxious, you experience a variety of uncomfortable physical symptoms, such as a racing heart and a suffocating feeling. These physical sensations can be frightening themselves—and a large part of what makes your phobia so distressing.
No matter what, do not give up just because you can’t see what options you have. You can always surrender, always choose to see what will happen next. Let curiosity push you to continue, if nothing else. Find the gratitude, find the gift of what you’ve overcome.
Fear can create strong signals of response when we’re in emergencies – for instance, if we are caught in a fire or are being attacked. It can also take effect when you’re faced with non-dangerous events, like exams, public speaking, a new job, a date, or even a party.
Depersonalization-derealization disorder occurs when you persistently or repeatedly have the feeling that you’re observing yourself from outside your body or you have a sense that things around you aren’t real, or both.
According to surveys, some of the most common fears are of demons and ghosts, the existence of evil powers, cockroaches, spiders, snakes, heights, Trypophobia, water, enclosed spaces, tunnels, bridges, needles, social rejection, failure, examinations, and public speaking.
Primal fear is defined as an innate fear that is programmed into our brains. These are fears like arachnophobia (fear of spiders) or ophidiophobia (fear of snakes). They are natural fears because of human evolution.