M1L1 – What is Anxiety

MODULE 1 : Brief Introduction
In this module you’re going to learn

  • what anxiety is (and what it isn’t)
  • where it’s experienced
  • what happens when you become anxious
  • When anxiety becomes a problem and
  • Why anxiety won’t go away

In short, Module 1 is all about setting the foundation for a true understanding around what is really causing your anxiety.


  • Anxiety is often referred to as the “common cold” of mental illness
  • It’s a universal emotion, experienced by all of us
  • Said to affect one in three of us significantly throughout our lifetime
  • It’s a term we’ve all heard before and are all familiar with – or are we?
  • Most of the time, we confuse fear for anxiety.
  • Fear is when something in our immediate environment poses a real threat to our safety and triggers our body’s internal alarm system (for instance, if you return to your car this evening and someone tries to rob you at knife point). It is our body’s response to actual danger in the environment right now

Anxiety is when something internal (such as a thought, feeling or created image or fantasy) sets off the same internal alarm system. For instance, if you have an argument with your partner and then they threaten to break up with you. Your body may experience a number of different symptoms such as tightness in the chest, a racing heartbeat and clammy hands. These symptoms come about through how you interpret the fight with your partner and the emotions that get triggered inside. That is, the feelings that get triggered inside when your partner threatened to break up with you and whatever thoughts and ideas you had about that led to the experience of anxiety.