Stress happens when we perceive an event as disturbing or threatening. Our primitive ancestors experienced stress when they had to fight off wild animals, invaders, adverse natural events, and other threats to their survival. These days we are more likely to feel the anxiety that emerges from stress when we face overwhelming responsibilities at work or home, experience loneliness, rejection, or the fear of losing things that are important to us, such as our jobs or friends. When we are exposed to such events, we experience what has been called the fight or flight response.
To prepare for fighting or fleeing, the body increases its heart rate and blood pressure. This sends more blood to our heart and muscles, and our respiration rate increases. We become vigilant and tense. Our bodies end up on full alert – and this allows us to take action. When these anxiety-inducing conditions continue over a long period of time, however, and have a significant impact on how we live, we may begin to suffer from one of the anxiety disorders.
Research indicates that anxiety disorders are the leading emotional health disorder for women and are second only to substance abuse among men. Within any given year, it has been estimated that fifteen percent of the population suffers from one of the anxiety disorders – yet only a small portion of those who suffer receive treatment. Fortunately, treatment is available and generally effective.
Dr. Baya Mebarek, Psy.D., LMFT
San Diego Couples and Family Therapy serves the surrounding areas of Sorrento Valley Road as La Jolla, UTC San Diego, Del Mar, Rancho Santa Fe, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Penasquitos, Poway, University City and Escondido.