an unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.
be afraid of (someone or something) as likely to be dangerous, painful, or harmful.
According to psychology research, fear is a primal emotion that involves a universal biochemical response and a high individual emotional response. Fear alerts us to the presence of danger or the threat of harm, whether that danger is physical or psychological.
Sometimes fear stems from real threats, but it can also originate from imagined dangers. While fear is a natural response to some situations, it can also lead to distress and disruption when extreme or out of proportion to the actual threat.
Fear is composed of two primary reactions to some type of perceived threat: biochemical and emotional.
Fear is a natural emotion and a survival mechanism. When we confront a perceived threat, our bodies respond in specific ways. Physical reactions to fear include sweating, increased heart rate, and high adrenaline levels that make us extremely alert.1
This physical response is also known as the “fight or flight” response, with which your body prepares itself to either enter combat or run away. This biochemical reaction is likely an evolutionary development. It's an automatic response that is crucial to our survival.
The emotional response to fear, on the other hand, is highly personalized. Because fear involves some of the same chemical reactions in our brains that positive emotions like happiness and excitement do, feeling fear under certain circumstances can be seen as fun, like when you watch scary movies.
Some people are adrenaline seekers, thriving on extreme sports and other fear-inducing thrill situations. Others have a negative reaction to the feeling of fear, avoiding fear-inducing situations at all costs.
Although the physical reaction is the same, the experience of fear may be perceived as either positive or negative, depending on the person.
Symptoms of Fear
Fear often involves both physical and emotional symptoms. Each person may experience fear differently, but some of the common signs and symptoms include:
Shortness of breath
In addition to the physical symptoms of fear, people may experience psychological symptoms of being overwhelmed, upset, feeling out of control, or a sense of impending death.
One aspect of anxiety disorders can be a tendency to develop a fear of fear. Where most people tend to experience fear only during a situation that is perceived as scary or threatening, those who live with anxiety disorders may become afraid that they will experience a fear response. They perceive their fear responses as negative and go out of their way to avoid those responses.
A phobia is a twisting of the normal fear response. The fear is directed toward an object or situation that does not present a real danger. Though you recognize that the fear is unreasonable, you can't help the reaction. Over time, the fear tends to worsen as the fear of fear response takes hold.
Causes of Fear
Fear is incredibly complex and there is no single, primary cause. Some fears may result from experiences or trauma, while others may represent a fear of something else entirely, such as a loss of control. Still, other fears may occur because they cause physical symptoms, such as being afraid of heights because they make you feel dizzy and sick to your stomach.
Some common fear triggers include:
Certain specific objects or situations (spiders, snakes, heights, flying, etc)
Real environmental dangers
Certain fears tend to be innate and may be evolutionarily influenced because they aid in survival. Others are learned and are connected to associations or traumatic experiences.
Why do I feel like this when I’m not in any real danger?
Early humans needed the fast, powerful responses that fear causes, as they were often in situations of physical danger. However, we no longer face the same threats in modern-day living.
Despite this, our minds and bodies still work in the same way as our early ancestors, and we have the same reactions to our modern worries about paying the bills, work, and social situations. But we can’t run away from or physically attack these problems!
The physical feelings of fear can be scary in themselves – especially if you are experiencing them and you don’t know why, or if they seem out of proportion to the situation. Instead of alerting you to a danger and preparing you to respond to it, your fear or anxiety can kick in for any perceived threat, which could be imaginary or minor. This can cause you more problems than whatever triggered the reaction in the first place.
Why won’t my fear go away and leave me feeling normal again?
Fear may be a one-off feeling when you are faced with something unfamiliar. But it can also be an everyday, long-lasting problem – even if you can’t put your finger on why.
Some people feel a constant sense of anxiety all the time, without any particular trigger. There are plenty of triggers for fear in everyday life, and you can’t always work out exactly why you are frightened or how likely you are to be harmed. Even if you can know how out of proportion a fear is, the emotional part of your brain keeps sending danger signals to your body. Sometimes you need mental and physical ways of tackling fear.
What is a panic attack?
A panic attack is when you feel overwhelmed by the physical and mental feelings of fear – the signs are listed under ‘What do fear and anxiety feel like?’.
People who have panic attacks say that they find it hard to breathe, and they may worry that they’re having a heart attack or are going to lose control of their body.
How do I know if I need help?
Fear and anxiety is something that we will all experience now and then. It is only when it is severe and long-lasting that it can become a mental health problem.
How can I help? How can you help yourself?
Face your fear if you can.
If you always avoid situations that scare you, it might stop you from doing things you want or need to do, making you miss out on life. This means you won’t be able to test whether the situation is as bad as you expect, so you also miss the chance to work out how to manage your fears and reduce your anxiety. Anxiety problems tend to increase if you get into this pattern.
Exposing yourself to your fears can be an effective way of overcoming this anxiety. You can try setting yourself small, achievable goals for facing your fears.
Try to learn more about your fear or anxiety. Keep an anxiety diary to note down how you’re feeling, what causes you to feel anxious, and what happens. When you understand how anxiety affects you, you’ll be better able to manage the feelings.
You could carry with you a list of things that help at times when you are likely to become frightened or anxious. This can be an effective way of addressing the underlying beliefs that are behind your anxiety.
Talk to a trusted friend or family member
It’s very common to feel silly or even ashamed of fears and anxieties. This can lead us to hide what’s going on from those we are close to. But there’s no need for us to feel this way and you don’t have to overcome your anxieties alone! If you have a friend or family member you feel confident will respond in a supportive way, it can often feel better to open up about what’s going on. The act of talking about something can help reduce your anxiety levels and encourage you to get more support if needed.
Try to increase the amount of physical activity you do. Exercise requires some concentration, and this can take your mind off your fear and anxiety. Remember, activity doesn’t have to be vigorous; gentle stretches, seated exercises, or walking are all good for you.
Learning relaxation techniques can help you with the mental and physical feelings of fear. It can help just to drop your shoulders and breathe deeply. Or imagine yourself in a relaxing place.
This is where, as a hypnotherapist, I can help
Using content free hypnotherapy, we can declutter the mind allowing you think more rationally Once your head is clearer and your thinking straighter I can help you find an anchor a place that you create that is an instant calmer for you. Our mind works in pictures and as brilliant as it is doesn’t know the difference between real or imagined.
If you would like to know more. I do offer a FREE CONSULTATION which can be booked at www.jonadkin.com/book-online
Forget Everything And Run
Face Everything And Rise.
The choice is yours.
Until next month
Have a good one,