experiences fear and anxiety. The human race would probably not
have survived without the fear response. When we see something we
perceive as dangerous, our increased heart rate and alertness give
us the energy we need to escape. Anxiety also helps us to anticipate
and therefore plan. We learn to avoid things harmful to us. Performances
of athletes, students, and actors are often improved with a moderate
amount of anxiety.
But some people experience fear and anxiety that
is overwhelming and out of proportion to their circumstances. They
see danger where it does not exist. Anxiety disorders can develop,
phobias and panic attacks can cause an inordinate amount of suffering.
Cognitive behavioral psychotherapy provides an opportunity to test
the validity of these fears in a safe environment. Then psychotherapy,
sometimes combined with medication, can be very effective in reducing
the emotional distress.