This anxiety switch controls what is called the fight or flight response. In a persons day to day life, your amygdala, is set in ‘off’ mode. This “switch” should only activate during moments of danger or threat. This is perfectly normal for these type of situations. However, when this ‘switch’is repeatedly triggered in times of stress, sadness, grief or anger, it can get ‘stuck’ in the on’ mode. When this happens, a person can start to develop acute phobias , anxiety disorders and also trigger panic attacks .
When this happens the Amygdala assumes that this level of anxiety is normal. It will then adapt and adopt this new level of anxiety as the baseline level of anxiety for your body. This is the reson why some people seem anxious all the time.
On a conscious level they know that they should not be feeling so anxious, however on a subconscious level, they are unable to control it once it has been set.
This learning process is known as Operant Conditioning. For years scientist have know that this is the cause of anxiety disorders, including panic attacks and phobias. Operant Conditioning “under regular conditions” is used by the brain to acquire new knowledge. We use operant conditioning on a daily basis. Examples like learning to read, drive or even juggle a few balls. Practicing (repeating) an action or group of actions, allows us to learn and master new skills.