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What is Anxiety? (And how to address it effectively)

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

Stress vs Anxiety

There's a fine line between anxiety and stress as both conditions present similar physical responses even though emotional ones may vary. Emotions experienced during stressful times that may not be present while experiencing anxiety are anger and irritability. On the one hand, stress can be caused by an external trigger, either a short-term stressor such as an argument, traffic jam, work deadline, etc.…; or a long-term stressor such as covid restrictions, lockdowns, ongoing financial worries or chronic illness). On the other hand, anxiety is characterised by persistent and overwhelming thoughts about unpredictable and uncontrollable threats, even in the absence of danger.

Where does anxiety come from?

The exact cause of anxiety is unknown. It can be attributed to traumatic life events, alteration of neurotransmitter levels in the brain. An anxiety disorder is characterised by a sudden feeling of uneasiness, worrying, fear, restlessness, or panic. Relaxation techniques and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy are helpful in most cases.

Are Anxiety and Depression the Same?

In mental health, the most common comorbidities is that of depression and anxiety. Studies reveal that 60% of people suffering from anxiety also develop symptoms of depression and reciprocally. On a physiological level, anxiety increases cortisol while decreasing neuronal plasticity, long-term memory (CREB), and brain cells growth factors (BDNF), which is observed in depression and other mood disorders revealing cognitive issues. Some physiological responses may overlap with someone presenting both conditions, making it more challenging to address traditional medicine, as treatments may differ. Thus, what would manage anxiety efficiently may not be appropriate for depression and otherwise. Although anxiety and depression may present a range of similar symptoms, there are distinctions while experiencing them. Both conditions are engaged in excessive worry and negative expectancy; however, depression is past-oriented while anxiety is focused on current and future threats.

What are Anxiety Symptoms? (Non-Exhaustive list)

  • Cognitive Symptoms

Fear of losing control, inability to cope

Fear of physical injury or death

Fear of going crazy

Fear of criticism, embarrassment

Frightening thoughts, loss of objectivity

Poor concentration, confusion, distractibility

Hypervigilance for threat

  • Behavioural symptoms

Avoidance of threat cues or situations

Flight or freeze

Pursuit of safety reassurance


Difficulty speaking

  • Emotional symptoms

Feeling nervous, tense, wound up

Feeling frightened, fearful, terrified

Being edgy, jumpy jittery

Impatience, frustration

  • Physical Symptoms

Restlessness, dizziness

Panic, fear

Uneasiness, nausea, or cramps

Sleep problems

Shortness of breath, dry mouth

Increased heart rate, chest pain

Hot flashes or chills


What are 3 Anxiety Levels?

Mild Anxiety: Arousal occurs in response to a specific event and for a short period of time. Feelings associated with anxiety are uneasy but under control. Individuals can engage in daily activities; however, they might avoid certain situations to prevent anxiety from occurring.

Moderate Anxiety: Anxiety arises more frequently in daily life, and panic attacks may occur. Specific trigger events may be the cause of anxiety. Even though an individual may feel like anxiety doesn't seem to be related to any particular event, it may remain for an extended period of time. In this case, anxiety can disrupt day-to-day life, prompting the individual to avoid more situations.

Severe Anxiety: Anxiety manifests on a daily basis, often associated with panic attacks. At this stage, managing day-to-day life becomes tough. Severe anxiety can prevent an individual from engaging in essential activities such as working, grocery shopping, engaging socially and more widely, leading an everyday life.

How to Address Anxiety?

In traditional Psychology, Anxiety is commonly addressed with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) which aims to identify distorted thoughts and improve one's personal coping strategies. CBT is based on the principle that thoughts, emotions and behaviours are interconnected...

Studies report CBT effectiveness for 70% when addressing anxiety.

How Many CBT Sessions are needed?

The length of treatment depends on each individual and their circumstances. The English National Institute for Care Excellence (NICE) recommends up to 24 sessions for effective treatment when a patient presents moderate to severe anxiety. A variety of factors influences the number of sessions you will need for a successful outcome, using CBT for anxiety:

• The type of disorder

• The severity of your symptoms

• Duration of symptoms

• Your level of self-confidence

• Comorbidities

How can you get quicker and long-lasting results?

Individuals thinking process unfolds as such: beliefs- thoughts- sensation- feelings- actions- behaviours. My approach can be complementary to a current CBT. It has tremendous success dealing with anxiety as it changes subconscious beliefs and perceptions of threats at the root level of the mind. It positively alters all stages of the thinking process in a cascade effect, automatically calming down thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.

Based on the effectiveness of this approach- within a few sessions, you may feel long-lasting relief and significant change in the way you experience life. If you experience moderate to severe anxiety, more sessions may help to build up strong coping skills to support you better in life; then, measuring your progress, you will estimate if you need further assistance.

Sync Your Minds content is for informational and educational purposes only. Our website is not intended to substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment; instead, it is a complement to it.


Kaczkurkin, AN & Foa, EB 2015, 'Cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders: an update on the empirical evidence', Dialogues in clinical neuroscience, vol. 17, Les Laboratoires Servier, no. 3, pp. 337–46, retrieved 8 July 2021, <>.

Salcedo, B 2018, The Comorbidity of Anxiety and Depression | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness,, retrieved 11 July 2021, <>.

Stein, MB & Stein, DJ 2008, 'Social anxiety disorder', The Lancet, vol. 371, no. 9618, pp. 1115–1125.

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