Panic button

Panic button

BY Jhanille A Brooks

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Print this page Email A Friend!

Each day we hear of at least one attack on our people; someone we know who has fallen prey to the evil that has been plaguing us. Every day there is news of a robbery, abduction, accident, or near miss of the above. Joggers are being rundown while on their pursuit of fitness, passengers cling on for dear life as taxis race down the streets and in a split second drivers end up in collisions. We are on red alert!

We are living in a constant state of being on watch, a constant state of fear. Fear has protected humans from predators and other threats to the survival of the species for centuries. Fear helps protect us and is adaptive, functional, and necessary. Although fear is a normal human emotion, the continuous experience of fear can have detrimental effects. In contrast to fear, anxiety is a general state of distress that is longer lasting than fear and usually is triggered by something that is not specific, even though it produces physiological arousal, such as nervousness and apprehension (Lang et al., 2000). Yet both fear and anxiety emotions are triggered in response to threat.

Living in chronic fear or anxiety can impact our mental health, brain processing, and reactivity speed; impair memory function; and affect our cardiovascular and gastrointestinal health. Moreover, fear can interrupt processes in our brains that allow us to regulate emotions, read non-verbal cues and other information presented to us, and act ethically. This impacts our thinking and decision-making in negative ways, leaving us susceptible to intense emotions and impulsive reactions.

Every time I approach the Hope Road/Waterloo Road intersection my heart starts to beat a little faster. I brace myself in anticipation of what feels like a swarm. Will I be told about my parents today? Will someone peer through the glass trying to look up my skirt? Or will there be an attempt to open my car door? If we drop our guard for a second and drive with our windows down, our doors unlocked, or look away, we could end up being the next victim or news report. This continuous hypervigilance is not healthy for us physically or mentally.

I reflect on the recent video which showed a young woman begging and pleading to be let out of a taxi that was careening through traffic as the driver tried to escape a police officer. She was heard saying that she had gone through a similar ordeal before. I can only imagine how her heartbeat escalated with rapid breaths as she relived her previous experience.

Fear and anxiety have their place in normal human experience, but it seems as if our current state of affairs has us trapped in the panic room waiting, anticipating, seemingly cowering, helpless, as we hold our breath wondering what will happen next.

We cannot continue like this.

Jhanille A Brooks, MA, is a Licensed Associate Counselling Psychologist. Send comments to the Observer or

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at




1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper � email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed:

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email:

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

comments powered by Disqus



Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon