Anxiety results from normal brain activity: human beings react in anticipation of the outcome of their actions; uncertainty arises from the assumption that not everything is played out; the uncertainty arouses anxiety in us.

We can classify brain activity into three forms.

  • Hypo activity: Being excessively relaxed when faced with a risky situation could be a sign of a pathological state (manic state, substance abuse, onset of Alzheimer’s…).
  • Optimal functioning: Anxiety, without excess, is a useful feeling when it is justified by real causes (examination, family or professional worries…). It constitutes a warning system and allows us to mobilize the necessary resources to adapt and cope.
  • Hyper activity: Anxiety disorders are when anxiety:
      • persists despite the disappearance of the situation that caused it;


    • appears constantly when no event justifies it;
    • affects the social, relational and/or physiological functioning of the person affected by it;

Anxiety is expressed differently under the influence of our personal or family experiences, our imagination and our analytical abilities.

Normal anxiety

  • Trigger:high stakes
  • Consequence: some or no suffering
  • Behaviour: no paralysis

Pathological anxiety

  • Trigger: unlikely or unfounded events
  • Trigger: significant distress
  • Behaviour: Paralysis – flight – avoidance

Anxiety disorders take on many forms:

  • Generalized anxiety: Diffuse, persistent (at least 6 months), irrational feeling of anxiety. It usually involves several of the everyday situations.
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD): Unreasonable enactment of stereotyped and repetitive behaviours in response to obsessive anxiety concerns.
  • Phobic Disorder: Irrational, excessive, and disproportionate fear that leads to avoidance of the situations that cause it.
  • Panic Disorder: Violent anxiety attack, which is very intensely focused over a very short period of time. This is called a panic attack or anxiety attack.
  • Social anxiety disorder: Persistent and intense fear, during situations of social interaction, of behaving inappropriately or being judged in a demeaning way.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder: Anxiety disorder that is a delayed or traumatic response after exposure to a stressful event.