As human beings, it’s normal for us to avoid the things that make us feel anxious or afraid. For some people, though, excessive anxiety can lead to unnecessary and extreme avoidance. In turn, this avoidance can have a hugely negative impact on the way that they function and their overall quality of life. So, let’s look at what anxiety avoidance is, including when it becomes a problem and how to treat it.
In psychology, avoidance is defined as the act of staying away from certain things — such as situations, people, or environments — in order to prevent negative or unwanted thoughts, feelings, or consequences. Avoidance can be a tricky thing, because while you may feel like it’s helping at the time, avoiding the things that make you anxious can actually do more harm than good. Ultimately, continuing to engage in avoidance to prevent feelings of fear or anxiety fuels the cycle and allows both your anxiety and avoidance to grow.
Avoidance is one of the most common safety behaviours and coping mechanisms for people with anxiety disorders, especially those with conditions such as social anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, and OCD. However, frequent avoidance doesn’t just cause an increase in anxiety. It can also have a negative impact on your ability to function in your everyday life.
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