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The Origins of Anxiety: How Neuropsychology Can Help Calm the Brain Down

Neuropsychology Origins Anxiety

Anxiety can be a debilitating mental health condition affecting millions worldwide. At MindLAB Neuroscience, we understand how challenging it can be to manage anxiety and live a whole life. That’s why we offer evidence-based neuropsychological treatment options tailored to your needs.

This blog will explore the origins of anxiety, what happens in our brains when we become anxious, and how MindLAB Neuroscience uses neuropsychology to calm the brain and treat anxiety.

We will discuss our brain-based coaching approach, which emphasizes the connection between the brain and behavior and explore some of the latest evidence-based techniques that we use to help our clients manage their anxiety and achieve their goals.

Origins of Anxiety: The Caveman The human brain has evolved over millions of years, and anxiety has played a crucial role in survival. In the past, our ancestors faced real threats, such as predators and other dangerous animals. Anxiety was a natural response to these threats, as it helped our ancestors stay alert and prepared to act quickly.

However, our perceived threats are often more abstract and less immediate in modern times. We worry about financial insecurity, social rejection, and other intangible threats. Our brains often react to these perceived threats, in the same way they would react to real threats, releasing stress hormones and triggering the fight-or-flight response.

Anxiety attacks, also known as panic attacks, are common symptoms of anxiety and can be triggered by various situations, such as public speaking, flying, or even just being in a crowded space. During an anxiety attack, our bodies go into fight or flight mode, a survival mechanism that evolved to help us deal with immediate threats.

Our brains release adrenaline and cortisol, hormones that prepare our bodies to either fight the perceived threat or flee from it. This response can cause various physical symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, shaking, and shortness of breath.

However, anxiety attacks are not just a physical response; they involve significant brain activity and structure changes. Research has shown that people with anxiety disorders have hyperactivity in the amygdala, a part of the brain responsible for processing emotions, especially fear. This hyperactivity can increase anxiety and a heightened sensitivity to perceived threats.

Anxiety also affects the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for decision-making and problem-solving. During an anxiety attack, the prefrontal cortex becomes less active, making it more challenging to think clearly and rationally. This can exacerbate panic and make it harder to cope with the attack.

Furthermore, anxiety can alter the communication between different parts of the brain, making it harder for the brain to regulate emotions and respond appropriately to stressors. This can lead to a cycle of anxiety, where the brain becomes more sensitive to stressors, and the person becomes more prone to anxiety attacks.

Fortunately, there are ways to manage anxiety attacks and prevent them from becoming chronic. Unfortunately, anxiety rarely exists alone.

Most often, it is comorbid with depression. It is difficult to say which came first for each person (anxiety or depression), but they feed off one another in a twisted symbiotic relationship. This cycle can rapidly become debilitating and impact every aspect of our lives. That’s why developing techniques to manage and alleviate anxiety is essential.

MinLAB’s unique program is designed to help you do just that by integrating the latest findings in neuroscience into a practical, effective, and permanent solution to banish anxiety for good.

Our Approach:

Brain-Based Coaching At MindLAB Neuroscience, we take a brain-based coaching approach to treating anxiety. By understanding how the brain works and affects behavior, we can help our clients develop practical strategies for managing their symptoms and achieving their goals. Our brain-based coaching approach involves working collaboratively with our clients to develop a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to their needs.

We use evidence-based techniques, all rooted in hard science, that produce outstanding but, more importantly, enduring changes. When we are anxious, a small region of the brain becomes ignited; this is the amygdala. When our stress and anxiety get too high, and we begin to have physiological symptoms, I call that “amygdala hijacking.”

At MindLAB Neuroscience, we customize each program to profoundly chan get this anxious state, utilizing the brain’s natural ability to change, called neuroplasticity. Running tandem with changing your anxious neural pathways, we also help our clients learn new coping skills and strategies for managing their anxiety until that old pathway is no longer functioning. We help our clients identify negative thought patterns and behaviors contributing to their anxiety and work with them to develop more positive and adaptive ways of thinking and behaving.

Neuroscientific Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction: Neuroscientific mindfulness-based stress reduction (NMBSR) is a therapy that helps individuals learn to focus on the present moment and reduce stress. MBSR can be particularly helpful for individuals with anxiety, as it teaches them to manage their symptoms by being more present and less reactive to their thoughts and emotions, thus forming new neural pathways that are much more advantageous than the old ways of thinking and behaving.

At MindLAB Neuroscience, we use MBSR to help our clients develop a greater sense of self-awareness and to cultivate a more positive and accepting attitude toward themselves and their experiences.

Neurofeedback: Neurofeedback is a real-time brain imaging therapy to help individuals learn to regulate their brain activity. Neurofeedback can be particularly helpful for individuals with anxiety, as it teaches them to calm their brains down and reduce symptoms. At MindLAB Neuroscience, we use neurofeedback to help our clients learn to regulate their brain activity and achieve a greater sense of calm and well-being.


At MindLAB Neuroscience, we understand how challenging it can be to manage anxiety, and we’re here to help. Our brain-based coaching approach uses evidence-based techniques to help individuals manage their symptoms and achieve their goals.

If you’re struggling with anxiety, know you’re not alone, and asking for help is okay. In fact, untreated anxiety will certainly worsen and lead to panic attacks, gastrointestinal upset, and heart palpitations. Contact us today to learn how we can help you live a happier, healthier life.

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Picture of Dr. Sydney Ceruto

Dr. Sydney Ceruto

A Pioneer in Neuroscience-Based Coaching

As the founder of MindLAB Neuroscience, Dr. Sydney Ceruto has been a leading force in integrating neuroscience into coaching and counseling for over two decades. With three master's degrees in psychology and two PhDs in behavioral and cognitive neuroscience, she is widely considered a top expert in her field.

Harnessing the power of neuroscience-based coaching, Dr. Ceruto's innovative approach focuses on neuroscience, neuroplasticity, and neural pathway rewiring to foster lasting positive change in mental health.

Dr. Ceruto holds esteemed memberships in the Forbes Executive Council, Positive Performance Alliance, Wharton Executive Education Program, the International Society of Female Professionals, and executive writing positions for Alternatives Watch, Brainz Magazine, and TED: Ideas Worth Spreading.

Dr. Ceruto's accomplishments include:

  • The 2022 CREA Award.
  • A lead research position at NYU Steinhardt.
  • Volunteer work with Covenant House and the National Alliance for Mental Health (NAMI).

Her science-backed method of Neural Rewiring has successfully guided thousands of clients toward happier, more productive, and more resilient lives.