Haley Elder, In-Depth Editor

Fear can be defined as an unpleasant emotion which is caused by the belief something is dangerous, likely and capable of causing pain, or a threat to one’s well being.

According to AP Psychology teacher Brad Edmundson, this unpleasant emotion can oftentimes be a hindrance to one’s well being.

“Fear can cause a heightened sense of awareness, which can debilitate someone to the point where they can’t function well,” Edmundson said.

Phobias, anxieties, and any other types of fear have the ability to take over one’s life. In many cases, anxieties  are powerful enough to keep people from living a normal life.

Ethan Moitra of Brown University found that sufferers of social anxiety are significantly more likely to wind up unemployed or underemployed

However, this is not always the case. More often than not, fear can help one to survive. While it is often precieved as unpleasant, fear is the mind’s way of protecting one from danger.

“If you don’t have fear you will allow yourself to be in dangerous situations,” Edmundson said. “This could eventually lead to death.”

Every animal in nature is equipped with intuitive mechanisms for detecting fear. In humans, there are three major areas of the brain that detect and react to fear. First, a frightening stimuli is precieved by the sensory cortex. From there, the sensory cortex sends signals to the amygdala. The amygdala then signals the hypothalamus which will send the body into fight-or-flight mode.

Fight-or-flight is an important aspect to one’s survival when placed in a dangerous situation.  This response enables humans to react quickly to life-threatening situations.

According to Harvard Health, “All of these changes happen so quickly that people aren’t aware of them.”

Overall, fear can be a dangerous thing, but it can also be life-saving.