Fear & Anxiety in The Feeling Brain
Elizabeth Johnston & Leah Olson
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In our new book The Feeling Brain: The Biology and Psychology of Emotions the topic of anxiety comes up at many points; this article brings together extracts of our book to discuss what is known about the brain bases of chronic worry and its relationship to the basic emotion of fear. Objects or situations that are seen as threatening can lead to anxiety disorders when what is feared becomes the focus of chronic or obsessive worry and thoughts. Anxiety disorders, which include phobias, panic attacks, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder, are among the most common and debilitating psychiatric disorders. They interfere with day-to-day functioning in the schoolroom, workplace, and social sphere, and bring with them significant negative health outcomes, including increased risk of depression and substance abuse. These disorders, characterized by excessive fear that leads to an often obsessive avoidance of the feared stimuli, are very common, with a lifetime prevalence of almost 30%...