M1L3 – What happens when I become anxious

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.


  • The amygdala sends a message to our somatic nervous system (Level 1 anxiety)
  • The somatic nervous system activates our body’s internal defensive system and gears it up to “fight, or flight”
    • Your muscles become tense as if you’re poised ready to fight for your survival or run to safety. This can sometimes lead to trembling
    • Heart rate and breathing increase to help provide energy and oxygen to the body quickly
    • Going pale or becoming flushed happens as blood flow is concentrated on our extremities (legs and arms). Your body also increases its blood clotting ability which would prevent excess blood loss in the event of injury.
  • When there is no chance of fighting or fleeing from danger, the amygdala then activates our parasympathetic nervous system (Level 2 and 3 anxiety) the “freeze” response.
  • This is similar to how a weaker animal might “freeze” or “play dead” in the hope that its bigger, stronger, faster prey may leave it alone
  • This fight or flight response can be triggered in response to real or imagined threats. That is, there does not need to be any immediate danger (just an idea of danger).

If anxiety reaches a level where it becomes a panic attack, it can last for 10-30 minutes although the symptoms can linger for much longer.