‘Living hell’: Inside one man’s battle with anxiety and depression – Bruce Munro.

It is this panic that the panic will overwhelm and expose you, that is the deep demon of anxiety disorders.

Anxiety and depression are a plague on Western society, especially New Zealand. It is only getting worse, becoming decidedly common.

About 17% of New Zealanders have been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or a bitter cocktail of the above, at some point in their lives. During the next 12 months, 228,000 Kiwis are predicted to experience a major depressive disorder.

Globally, the World Health Organisation believes mental illness will become the second leading cause of disability within two years.

A fear process had established itself in my brain.

For several years, my brain had been building an extensive back catalogue of experiences it interpreted as fearful. A mind loop was set up. The amygdala, the almond-sized primal brain, detected a threat. A flood of adrenaline and cortisol was released, creating a hyper-attentive state. The neocortex scanned memories for explanations of this arousal. If what was going on, no matter how mundane – a phone ringing, having a conversation, driving across a bridge – had been labelled “fearful” by a past experience, then fear was offered to my conscious brain as the appropriate emotion.

Deep ruts were created that ran directly from any stimuli, past, present and future to a fear response.

By simple, tragic repetition, I had trained my thinking to be scared of virtually everything. …

New Zealand Herald

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