How Does Anxiety Affect The Brain & Can You Stop It?

how does anxiety affect the brain

For many people, it’s hard to recall when the anxiety wasn’t always there.  When did it go from being a reaction to something new, to now just being a constant state of being? Anxiety or stress should not be an ongoing state, but rather a reaction to something that is triggered via a fight or flight response.  So how does anxiety affect the brain?

If you don’t recognize that you have anxiety, it’s unlikely you would know how to stop your anxiety in its tracks.  It can be done, but let’s go back for a minute to understand what might be going on.

How Does Anxiety Affect The Brain?

Our brains are hardwired to keep us safe and were designed (who knows how long ago) to ensure we do react to stressful situations.  The classic example is seeing a tiger or lion in the wild, and getting a message to “run like hell.” 

What Part Of The Brain Controls Anxiety?

The little guy in the brain that sends that message is called the amygdala (let’s call it Miggy), and since (most days) we no longer have to run from lions and tigers, we need a way to calm Miggy down.  

Miggy is quite small, shaped like an almond, and it’s like the communications hub in the brain, both getting signals and issuing responses.  Perhaps we should be calling it Miggy the modem! That was a bad IT joke if you missed it.

Miggy has quite a long memory, possibly longer than this lifetime, which might explain the lion-just-spotted type reactions.  Why else are we jumping out of our skins when we just dropped a jar of peanut butter or heard a car door close nearby?

What Chemical In The Brain Causes Anxiety?

When that fight or flight response occurs, the brain is flooded with cortisol and norepinephrine.  Both of these chemicals are designed to make you react, by in part, boosting your adrenals.  They can increase your perception, and determine how quickly you respond in dangerous situations. 

Long term exposure to cortisol can cause damage to the hippocampus, which is where our long and short term memories are stored.  Interestingly, it’s the hippocampus, which is first damaged when people first experience Alzheimer’s Disease.

What Happens To The Brain When We Have Anxiety?

Your body is primed by the cortisol and norepinephrine, getting your heart rate up, your blood being pushed into muscles, and more air in the lungs.  With all this happening, your body is better able to cope with the impending danger.

After the danger has passed, all this is supposed to go back to normal. 

And there’s the catch.

If you are reacting to dropping a jar, or a car door closing, chances are Miggy is not able to go back to Sleep.  Instead, Miggy remains on alert to some extent while our bodies remain under some level of stress – imagined or real.

Signs Of Anxiety To Be Aware Of:

If you are not sure whether you have anxiety, let’s have a look at some of the reg flags:

  • Is your mind currently racing, looking for what might go wrong next?
  • Do you play the blame game when things go wrong, vs. accepting responsibility?
  • When things go well, do you find some external excuse rather than giving credit to yourself?
  • Do you find it difficult to relax or get to Sleep?

These are some of the signs, but there is a wide range of other symptoms of anxiety.

How Can You Stop Anxiety?

There are so many things you can do to stop anxiety.  You don’t need to try all of the following, but it would pay to try a variety and see what works for you.  In no particular order:

  1. Stop looking at screens for at least an hour before bed, and preferably get some glasses that block out both blue and green lights. Here’s a link to an Australian company that will make up glasses with your prescription included. It’s recommended you wear such glasses once the sun has gone down.
  2. Establish a pre-sleep routine, which might include having a bath, herbal tea, playing some relaxing music.
  3. Get better quality sleep.  Try going to sleep at the same time each night and aim for at least 8 hours of sleep.  Both of the previous steps will help you to get better quality sleep.
  4. Get out in nature, go for a walk, sit and watch the birds, just get outside and let yourself get distracted by nature.
  5. Any other form of exercise will also be a great help.
  6. Distract yourself with movement.  Dance to your favorite tunes.  Another simple thing to do is just to bounce a ball around.  It will help distract Miggy for a while.

If you do have anxiety, try out some of these techniques, and be patient with yourself as well.  Chances are you did not become anxious after just one event, so it may take some time to calm yourself down as well.  But you can do it!

The Bellabee device also has settings for Anti-Anxiety and Improve Sleep, both of which would help you and Miggy with stopping anxiety.


The Top 16 Physical Signs of An Anxiety Attack



Anxiety is the body’s response to unknown circumstances. In moderation, anxiety is normal and a healthy reaction. It’s normal to experience occasional anxiety. In fact, it is what helps us focus, remain alert and can be the motivation to solve problems or get out of dangerous situations.

However, when anxiety is experienced frequently when it is uncontrollable, overwhelming to the
point of hindering you to function properly, it’s when you know the amount of anxiety you are experiencing is unhealthy.

We explore how common anxiety is, what the physical signs of anxiety are, and offer some simple yet effective ways to stop your anxiety.

How Common is Anxiety?

Anxiety attacks are a common condition and are spreading rapidly. In the US, 40 million people experience anxiety each year. 1 in 13 people all over the world suffers from anxiety.

With that number of people experiencing anxiety attacks, you would hope to be able to easily find information online that would genuinely help you. However, it is not as easy to find reliable information online as you would hope.

Are Anxiety Attacks like Panic Attacks?

There are many misconceptions, including the clinical difference between panic attacks and anxiety.

Panic attacks are more intense than anxiety attacks. Another distinction between the two is that panic attacks are experienced out of the blue while an anxiety attack is a response to a situation.

For an anxiety attack to happen, there is a triggering factor. It comes after a period of worry and restlessness. In addition, panic attacks subside after a few minutes while anxiety symptoms, although less severe than panic attacks, can go on for a long period of time.

Panic attacks are most likely the result of witnessing or experiencing trauma or when a person has a phobia. They can occur without any history of illness or disorder and are more frequent in women than in men.

Panic attacks can last between 10-30 minutes or up to an hour in worst cases, while anxiety attacks can last much longer, depending on the stressors, they can last for days or even weeks.

The Top 16 Physical Signs of an Anxiety Attack

  1. being easily startled
  2. experiencing chest pain
  3. dizziness
  4. having a dry mouth
  5. experiencing fatigue even upon waking
  6. feelings of fear
  7. irritability
  8. loss of concentration
  9. muscle pain
  10. numbness or tingling in the extremities
  11. a rapid heart rate
  12. restlessness
  13. shortness of breath
  14. sleep disturbances, either not being able to get to sleep, or waking early
  15. the feeling of being choked or smothered
  16. having difficulty breathing

Simple Solutions to Calming Anxiety

It’s useful to keep a diary of all the symptoms being experienced, and how frequently they occur.  If four or more symptoms are being experienced, this could be a panic attack and require a different treatment approach.  

It’s important to know what to do if you are experiencing an anxiety attack.

Firstly breathe deeply and slowly, try to count as you are breathing and really just focus on the breath for a few minutes.

Find a mantra which you find calming, such as “I am safe, I am loved, I am worthy”.  Now try saying your mantra as you are swaying from side to side. That acts as a diversion for your brain.

Try spending a few minutes writing down why you are feeling anxious, then without overthinking it try and come up with a few things you can try to do about it. You could even try writing what your ideal day feels like. Sometimes just writing things like this down gets it out of your head.

Try a New Bedtime Routine

Find a bedtime routine that helps you get a good night’s sleep. There are many different things you can have in your routine, but some of the basics are no screen time for the hour before bed.  Try reading a book that makes you smile, have a relaxing bath or play some music.

As you are falling asleep you could play some music or listen to a sleep story.

Drug-Free Alternative to Reduce Anxiety

For more help reducing anxiety and falling asleep you could consider wearing a Bellabee as that has a setting for Anti-Anxiety, and it also has an Improve Sleep setting.  It can be worth a try as it is a drug-free option for treating anxiety. 

The Bellabee is a wearable device that you wear like a headband and is connected to your smartphone.  Your smartphone runs the Bellabee app.  Read some reviews about the Bellabee.

How Bellabee Can Help With Anxiety

Treat anxiety without drugs

Anxiety is so common these days it’s part of our daily lives.  But we do have a choice, and one choice we have is to whether we let ourselves try something that might help us feel better.  Using the Bellabee Anti-anxiety mode is one of those things that seems almost too simple – but what if it really helps!

The Anti-anxiety mode is one of the many modes that Bellabee has, which when run, shows our brain waves another set of waves which can reduce anxiety.  It may only take 30 minutes to feel a difference, or it may take a few days.  With any of the Bellabee modes, it is recommended that you try it for around three weeks, but many people notice improvements sooner.

A Natural Approach To Treating Anxiety

If you are suffering from anxiety and would prefer a more natural approach than prescription drugs, then the Bellabee may be worth considering.  Please also consider working with a Neurofeedback specialist as they can monitor how your brain is responding to the Bellabee and may be able to suggest a more personalized setting to run the Bellabee on for you.

How To Use Bellabee To Help With Anxiety

To use the Bellabee to help with anxiety, connect up the Bellabee, and run the app called Anti-Anxiety.  Run it for at least 30 minutes and see how you feel.  I would try running it for an hour a day for at least 3 weeks.  As the Bellabee is running it is training the brain, so over time you will be exercising the brain and it will be learning new pathways.

You don’t need to be doing anything in particular while you are wearing the Bellabee, so you could wear it while working on your computer, reading, or watching television.  You could also just nap while you are using the Bellabee.

How to order Bellabee

To order your new Bellabee, just click this link.  There is a 45-day guarantee and postage is free.  It’s certainly worth trying if you are looking for a natural way to treat anxiety.