You can read the full article at the Wall Street Journal, from May 7, 2022 or read my synopsis below.
Summary: Today we treat all anxiety as a malfunction to repair. We need to adapt our model of dealing with this critical emotional response and better discern between anxiety and anxiety disorders.
- Never before have we had so many resources to help with anxiety yet, we are an increasingly anxious society.
- Over 100M people in the U.S. will struggle with an anxiety disorder in their lifetime.
- The problem is not anxiety; it is that we don’t understand how to respond constructively to anxiety.
- Feeling anxious is not a failure of mental health. Human evolution has depended on anxiety to help us survive (and thrive) by thinking about the future and how we should prepare for it.
- Anxiety makes people more focused and better and controlling their attention in times of stress.
- Anxiety also produces higher levels of dopamine, the “feel good” hormone, suggesting that it supports making positive possibilities a reality.
- Creativity in general is boosted with anxiety. Studies show that it helps spur creative problem solving and ideation.
- Anxiety can’t do its job without making us uncomfortable, forcing us to pay attention.
- New studies show that even for children, long-term outcomes are better when people identify the source of their anxiety and work through it rather than avoid it. For example, accommodating anxiety that your children may have rather than gradually exposing them to challenging situations while providing support may not be the right answer.
- It is not easy, but we can all work to reframe thoughts about anxiety as an advantage to the point of affecting biological responses such heart rates and blood pressure.
- Creating personal fulfillment is yet another way that anxiety is good. A sense of purpose, which has been shown time and time again to be the primary driver of happiness, is the result of channeling anxiety towards persistence and hope.
Angelo Sambunaris, M.D.