Anxiety is a lifelong trait

Unfortunately for those of us with anxiety disorders, it appears to be a lifelong trait. To some extent, it seems obvious.

For example: my friend M is an adventurer. She has climbed mountains, jumped out of perfectly good airplanes (with a parachute and skydive partner), and generally loves to try new things. M does NOT have an anxiety disorder.

I do.

My idea of an adventure is jaywalking. Trying new things means walking on the opposite side of the street from the subway station to my office. Newness and novelty are overwhelming to me. I like learning new things, true, but I also like routine. I like working the same hours every day, driving the same roads, taking the same trains.

In many ways, I wish I could be more like M. More...I don't Constant anxiety can be hard to deal with and manage.

Which is why it helps to learn that I'm just wired differently, and that I can't change some of my innate temperament. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin, Madison have looked at the persistence of anxious temperament in rhesus monkeys.*

From a press release:

"The study looked at brain activity, anxious behaviour, and stress hormones in adolescent rhesus monkeys, which have long been used as a model to understand anxious temperament in human children. Anxious temperament is important because it is an early predictor of the later risk to develop anxiety, depression, and drug abuse related to self medicating. The researchers found that those individuals with the most anxious temperaments showed higher activity in the amygdala, a part of the brain that regulates emotion and triggers reactions to anxiety, such as the fight or flight response. These anxious monkeys had more metabolic activity in the amygdala in both secure and threatening situations.

"The brain machinery underlying the stress response seems to be always on in these individuals," said Kalin, "even in situations that others perceive as safe and secure." "

Even a year and a half after the initial tests, the monkeys originally rated as anxious showed much higher stress responses in all types of situations than the non-anxious monkeys.

Am I destined to be anxious the rest of my life? Probably. I am working to live with it or at least live around it. But I'm trying not to blame myself for it and waste my energy trying to do a preso-chango and become an adventurer like my friend M.

*This journal (all of the ones published by the Public Library of Science) is a free, open-access research publication, which means that you can download the whole article for free.

posted under , |


tokaiangel said...

I'm kinda glad I an anxious monkey. Jumping out of planes is massively brave, but our survival instincts are there for a reason: to ensure we survive!

I kinda like the fact that some people need to bungee jump to feel like they are leaping into the unknown - I get the same effect just ordering a different sandwich at lunchtime.

A sandwich is a lot cheaper than extreme sports travel insurance, after all.


Interestingly, I found CBT very very helpful for my anxiety problems. So although we may not be able to rid ourselves of them completely, we can definitely learn to live with them.

TA x

IrishUp said...

TA is right: thrill-seeking can be a disorder too. Such people often have surpressed startle responses and can need ever-escalating risks to stimulate them. These can lead to self-harming behaviors and difficulty sustaining relationships, even if such people appear "exciting" from the outside looking in.

We all have our demons. As a person who absolutely LOATHES getting a new cell phone b/c of the hassel of the learning curve, I am a big fan of the devil-you-know. I'll keep my foibles, and my feeties INSIDE the plane TYVM!

Le Fleur said...

I agree that thrill seeking can be a disorder. I have one that basically involves the need for thrills, but I won't mention it for fear of being ridiculed as I have heard that people think it is not a "real" disorder.

Anyhow, I also think that you can't live your life based on the findings of a case study in a laboratory. I mean, the same thing does not always apply in all situations so all people tagged with an anxiety disorder may not have the same symptoms and they may not be lifelong.

I should be on medication for my bipolar disorder, this is not the one I was talking about above, but I refuse to swallow bitter pills and have been refusing since I was diagnosed at sixteen. I'm still alive and quite well adjusted, I think.

Carrie said...

Oh, I agree: thrill seeking can be addictive and dangerous! I know that's not M- she just loves new things and is very adventurous.

I've been anxious for a long time, and I know that I'm almost always probably going to be more hesitant to try new things than most people. And that's okay. There's also a very fine line between understanding your own personality traits and being trapped by them (if that makes any sense at all!).

For years, I berated myself for not liking the same things as other people: going to bars, socializing in large groups, being adventurous. For me, this study was as much about understanding that I'm wired differently as it was about condemning myself to a life of anxiety.

CBT and DBT have literally been lifesavers, both with my anxiety and my mood disorders (likely an atypical bipolar disorder).

Phew- that was long. Mary, are you out there? You're rubbing off!

Le Fleur said...

I always leave long comments and here's another :)

My sister said she doesn't think I'm bipolar because I don't act like the people who get treated at her hopital and I've never been hospitalized. Truthfully, I'm so afraid of hospitals that I would suffer anything rather than be taken to one.

Also, the manic side of my mood disorder isn't what she would call mania. She's studying to be a social worker, but she works with nurses at the momment and she thinks she's seen all types.

I suppose I could call it an atypical bipolar disorder, but I do have episodes where I just can't close my eyes and I have to do something to exhaust myself completely so it'll pass. I also have episodes where I just cry and cry and I've tried to suffocate myself in my pillow as I felt so bad for no real reason.

Normally, I'm on a middle ground though and that's what my family members see and that makes them think that nothing is wrong. I've learned to deal with it, and even hide it, as I don't like answering their questions about it.

marry said...

Thanks to dr oduwa the great man that save my life, some months again I was very sick and feel pain every-time, it was him that bring me out, am FRANK ALEXEANDER or email me for information, am from USA I was once a herpes patient it was him that cured me, I want to say big thanks to him because he did very great in my life, before this man start with my cured he ask me to promise him one thing, that once am cured I should share his news to the world about how his going to help me and I was even happy that I found help I promise him that I will do that TESTIMONY OF HOW I GOT CURED FROM HERPES SIMPLEX VIRUS
This is real take it serious, who will believe that a herb can cure herpes, I never believe that this will work, i have spend a lot getting drugs from the hospital to keep me healthy, it got to a time that i was waiting for is death to come because i was broke, one day i hard about this great man called DR. ODUWA who is well known for Herpes, HIV, and Cancer cure, i decided to email him I didn't believe him that much, I just wanted to give him a try, he replied my mail and Needed some Information about me, then I sent them to him, he prepared a herbal medicine (CURE) and sent it through Online Courier Service for delivery, he gave my details to the Courier Office. they told me that 3-5 days I will receive the package and after receiving it, I took the medicine as prescribed by him at the end of the one week, he told me to go to the hospital for a checkup, and i went, surprisingly after the test the doctor confirm me Herpes simplex virus negative, i thought it was a joke, I went to other hospital and was also negative, thank you for saving my life, I promise I will always testify of your good works. if you are herpes simplex virus patient, contact him and I am sure you will get cured, contact him via: or GMAIL.

lisa davis said...

I never believed i would be healed someday.This disease started circulate all over my body and i have been taking treatment from my doctor, few weeks ago i came on to search the internet if i could get any information concerning the prevention of this disease, on my search i saw a testimony of someone who has been healed from (HARPS and other from ALS) by this Man DR.OKABEN and she also gave the email address of this man and advise we should contact him for any sickness that he would be of help, so i wrote to telling him about my (Hepatitis B and Skin Tag) he told me not to worry that i was going to be cured!! hmm i never believed it, well after all the procedures and remedy given to me by this man few weeks later i started experiencing changes all over me, so i went to my Doctor for test again, when the result came out, behold i was totally free from the Hepatitis B as the Doctor OKABEN assured me, So friends my advise is if you have such disease or virus like HSV, HPV, HBV,MNA, ALS Cancer or any other at all you can email DR.OKABEN Name: DR. OKABEN Email: Tell: call +2349029519146 Whatsapp: +2349029519146

zom nana said...

I am glad with the invention of natural herbal permanent cure for HIV. Sometimes last year i was checking for permanent solution to this offensive infection i got from boy friend then i came across a testimony shared by someone who got cured already and i applied E-mail; or WhatsApp +2348140033827 The herbal doctor called me to ask if i actually needed the cure, i ordered and he sent me the herbs which i used for two weeks then i was totally relieved of all symptoms. Now i completely test negative to HIV. Thank you Doctor.

Post a Comment

Newer Post Older Post Home

ED Bites on Facebook!

ED Bites is on Twitter!

Search ED Bites

About Me

My photo
I'm a science writer, a jewelry design artist, a bookworm, a complete geek, and mom to a wonderful kitty. I am also recovering from a decade-plus battle with anorexia nervosa. I believe that complete recovery is possible, and that the first step along that path is full nutrition.

Drop me a line!

Have any questions or comments about this blog? Feel free to email me at

nour·ish: (v); to sustain with food or nutriment; supply with what is necessary for life, health, and growth; to cherish, foster, keep alive; to strengthen, build up, or promote


Popular Posts


Recent Comments