Conditions we treat
“Anxiety is a psychological experience of feeling threatened that is accompanied by physiological arousal that results from the activation of the sympathetic nervous system that initiates the fight-or-flight response.”
As Abramowitz puts it, the threat might or might not be present, as it is the perception of threat that causes anxiety. We all can recall moments of intense fear that turned out to be baseless. When anxiety occurs in the absence of danger or when it is out of proportion relative to the actual threat, it is considered maladaptive. In this case, the person misperceives a relatively safe situation as dangerous, and as a result, experiences physical symptoms, negative thoughts and predictions, and an urge to use strategies to reduce the fear.
By minimizing exposure to the perceived threats, the person does not have the opportunity to learn that such situations are objectively safe, therefore cannot correct the misperception, ending up strengthening the pattern of anxiety.