Fear, our primal response to danger, is part of what has kept the human race alive. But our capacity to imagine the future… “the worst case scenario”… can also turn it pathological. From The New York Times:
This simple distinction between anxiety and fear is an important one in the task of defining and treating of anxiety disorders, which affect many millions of people and account for more visits to mental health professionals each year than any of the other broad categories of psychiatric disorders.
Fear and anxiety are in the brain because they helped our ancestors and theirs cope with life’s challenges. But when these states interfere with our ability to survive and thrive, one has an anxiety disorder. These include phobias, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress syndrome, generalized anxiety disorder, among other conditions. While fear plays a key role in some anxiety disorders (phobia, post-traumatic stress), it takes a back seat in others (generalized anxiety).