When FDR famously proclaimed there is nothing to fear but fear itself, little did he know was forecasting a psychological phenomenon known asanxiety sensitivity.

The term wasn’t coined until 1985, but when the concept was defined, it was kind of a big deal. I’ll stop short of calling anxiety sensitivity the mother of all anxiety disorders (which sounds like a Freudian comic book villain), but high anxiety sensitivity puts you at greater risk for developing a problem with anxiety, from panic to PTSD to phobias and beyond.

So what exactly is this fiendish phenomenon? It’s a belief that the physiological experience of anxiety itself, like a racing heart, sweating, or shaking, is dangerous and could lead to devastating outcomes. In other words, it’s the tendency to interpret anxious sensations as catastrophic—it really is fear of fear.

 

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