4 Exploring anxiety part 2
We know that anxiety can be a normal ‘adaptive’ (behavioural and physiological) response to stress. The acute 'fight or flight' response can energise, motivate and increase our focus and attention in the short term. It can operate as a ‘call to action’, a self-preservation or survival mechanism that alerts us to steer away from or to face and deal with and resolve a stressful situation, a perceived danger or a threat. This is quite different from chronic (persistent or intense) anxiety which can be related to a specific cause such as a phobia, or anxiety that endures but may be unexplained − an irrational fear or worry. Chronic and persistent anxiety interferes with everyday life (both in terms of the frequency and severity of symptoms), causes worry and distress and meets diagnostic thresholds (DSM or ICD classifications). When anxiety becomes ‘maladaptive’ in this way, it has negative consequences on health, becomes debilitating and warrants intervention.