Nervousness and Nervous Problems
Nervousness can overwhelm us and leave us feeling out of control. It feels as though we are driven to act like this, strengthens with
every 'attack' and leads to constant searching for reasons and answers. Involving self-doubt, insecurity and fear, nervous problems can appear too powerful to deal
However, there is a way to understand these problems that takes away much of this power; to know what they really are, how they work and why we
get them. And with this insight it is possible to overcome nervousness and anxiety problems naturally ourselves without therapy or medication.
A new understanding...
Current explanations for the cause and cure of such things as: extreme nervouseness, high anxiety and panic; obsessive thinking and compulsive
behaviour; phobias and depression have failed millions of people looking to understand and overcome these problems. Beliefs about them being a medical illness or due to genetics,
are misguided and treatments based upon these beliefs don't really cure them.
Yet when we look closely at these problems, we can see that they are not:-
Due to chemical imbalance
Caused by our genes
Indeed, these problems are not even 'disorders' (our mind and body are totally ordered in what they are trying to do) and they most certainly aren't irrational ... they
develop for the most rational reason there will ever be ... to keep us safe.
We can spend a lifetime looking for the right cure for our 'illness'. If only we can find the right pill or method. Unfortunately, in doing this, we are looking
at these problems in totally the wrong way.
The Real Cause?
When we look at the backgrounds of large numbers of people with nervous problems, they are often strikingly similar in many ways. Negative life experiences
and subsequent feelings involving self worth and insecurity occur across the board with such regularity and are so similar that it is hard to see how they cannot possibly
play a major role in these problems.
Far from being an illness, something strange that has happened to us, or something that is wrong with us, we can see exactly how we become so nervous. It follows
a logical psychological progression based on our life experiences and learning, and we can map out exactly what happens to cause it.
Negative experiences, thoughts and feelings can become intertwined with deep-seated survival instincts to form a whole host of anxiety-related problems.
The potential to develop these problems lies within us all, it's part of human nature, and it only takes a certain set of experiences to bring them out.
Let's look more closely at nervousness...
Being nervous includes: feeling on-edge (jumpy and jittery), feeling apprehensive that something may happen, and being afraid to some degree.
Nervousness marks the start of anxiety 'kicking in'. Our heartbeat and breathing becomes faster and we may have difficulty swallowing, 'experience butterflies'in the
tummy, and begin to shake and tremble. Other symptoms include: blushing, stuttering and feeling generally uneasy. There is often an overwhelming need to flee or
The signs of nervousness indicate anxiety.
Anxiety is a protection mechanism that has evolved over millions of years; it serves to warn us that we are about to be hurt and to prepare us for action.
It does this in 2 main ways:-
1. Our thoughts: We think about potential situations before we get to them - the greatest form of protection is not to get into the situation in the
first place. This is something seen in many anxiety-related problems, where we will often avoid situations that make us feel afraid.
2. Our Body: Prepares us for action: the fight-or-flight response. We are charged with energy ready to fight or flee. This response is responsible
for all the physical symptoms of anxiety that we experience.
Extreme nervousness (nervous problems / problems with our nerves) does involve an element of anxious thinking (number 1, above) but by far,
the main part of these problems involves that second role of anxiety: our body being prepared for action.
This preparation (the fight-or-flight response) gives us an alertness and energy boost to deal with any danger. This is responsible for the shakiness and
feeling jittery and on-egde.
Nervous symptoms are a direct result of this fight-or-flight response, a survival instinct, that prepares our body for action, for example:-
Our heart beat speeds up to pump more blood quickly to the main muscle groups (arms and legs) to give
them energy (oxygen and sugar) to enable us to stand and fight or run away.
Jitteriness / trembling / shaking is the result of this energy being given to the muscles quickly, priming them
Sweating excessively. We sweat more to cool ourselves down from all this internal energy
In fact, virtually all the physical sensations of nervousness, anxiety and panic can be explained by this preparation for action. Nervousness, anxiety and panic are all
related and the underlying drive is anxiety.
Feeling insecure (a vague feeling of
threat) makes us nervous – a sort of pre-preparedness.
Greater threats usually cause higher
anxiety – we become more prepared to fight or flee (or avoid the situation altogether).
Immediate threat results in
panic – the urge to flee usually outweighs everything else.
Take, for example, a man who is scared of public speaking that has to make a speech at his friend's wedding in a few weeks time:
› Weeks away, just thinking about the wedding will make him nervous. Probably only slightly for the event is still some
› Days away from the event he will now be starting to get
extremely anxious just thinking about it. The nervousness grows into anxiety which gets stronger and stronger as the day of
the speech gets closer.
› The morning of the wedding he is now panic-stricken, terrified
of making the speech. So much so that he gets drunk enough to face it or makes excuses to get out of it and avoids doing it
Nervousness, in itself, is not a problem – it is normal. Excessive nervousness is a symptom of an underlying problem and it is
this that we need to understand and deal with to overcome it.
Nervousness and Anxiety Problems
To get nervous is to be human. Nervousness is part of anxiety which is a highly evolved survival instinct that helps to
protect us. Everyone gets nervous at times.
But for some of us things change. Our nervousness grows stronger and we start to get nervous more often. It comes on when we
don't need it or comes on much too strong when we only need it a little.
Many people stay like this ... living with over-sensitivity, getting too nervous frequently. Physical symptoms related to
anxiety may develop.
For others, increased nervousness, if unresolved, can lead to a number of more serious problems. Numerous studies show that
long-term increased nervousness is found at the start of many people's anxiety disorders.
"excitable, sensitive, highly strung". May involve apprehension and worry.
"A state of uneasiness or tension caused by apprehension of possible misfortune, danger etc." and to be anxious is to be "worried and
Nervousness Self Help
1. Hyman, S. E. (1999) Introduction to the complex genetics of mental disorders. Biological Psychiatry, 45, 5,
2. Throughout: Barlow, D. H. Anxiety and its Disorders: The Nature and Treatment of Anxiety and Panic (1998) New York: The