In our series on Amygdala, we discussed reasons why its important for us to put the Amygdala in check. Do you have any fears? For some people, their biggest fear may be death ( The anxiety of death). For others, it may be public speaking. In fact, most humans will have at least one or more things that they fear in life, no matter how dangerous or innocent the object of that fear may be. Well managed fear often helps us with self-preservation, We feel fear, as well as related emotions, in order to protect ourselves from danger and to heighten our awareness, this awareness is thought to be controlled by a section of the brain known as the amygdala.
The amygdala assists with the perception of emotions such as anger, fear, and sadness, as well as the controlling of aggression. The amygdala helps to store memories of events and emotions so that an individual may be able to recognize similar events in the future. For example, if you have ever suffered a dog bite, then the amygdalae may help in processing that event and, therefore, increase your fear or alertness around dogs.
It is important to state that the amygdalae are most functional in immediate fear situations. Whenever our senses detect a change in our surroundings that could be dangerous, the amygdalae are responsible for preparing the body for escape or defense. This is part of what is known as the startle circuit of the brain, which controls our response to being startled.
Anxiety and panic attacks occur when environmental or emotional stressors convince your amygdala that you are in danger.