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First Look Club: Jed reviews The Anatomy of Anxiety by Ellen Vora

First Look Club: Jed reviews The Anatomy of Anxiety by Ellen Vora

THE ANATOMY OF ANXIETY

By Ellen Vora, MD

Publication date: March 15, 2022

Reviewed by Jed Cruz


There has never been a better time to read this book than right now.

Really. You can stop at this truth bomb and derive the rest from the book’s title. The author, Ellen Vora, is a practicing psychiatrist who draws from both the stories of her patients and her experiences with studying holistic medicine to create a surprisingly comprehensive guide to defining, identifying, and living with anxiety.

Some of the book is just hard truths that we probably subconsciously knew but somehow mentally justified against accepting: certain lifestyle decisions can result in feelings of anxiety. We should sleep better. We should eat better. We should just generally take care of ourselves better. It’s not new advice, but it is advice well-delivered in The Anatomy of Anxiety.

This portion takes up about half of the book, and is identified by the author as examinations of the causes of “false anxiety”: a hard sensation to define for sure, because the effects of so-called false anxiety are still very real. Causality is the big distinction between false and true anxiety: false anxiety is usually a signal from the body that something is not right, whether it’s a sugar imbalance or the negative effects of overmedication. It’s especially fascinating because of the constant connection that Dr. Vora draws between the state of the physical body and the state of the mind – she makes the very compelling argument that in many cases of mental distress, a physiological cause exists to explain it. Anxiety is not the problem, but it’s the symptom of a problem.

The second half of the book is devoted to “true anxiety”: the kind that takes form out of a profound, fundamental truth that our body is trying to communicate with us. Here, the book takes more of a metaphysical turn: where the previous part sometimes reads like a technical guide to healthy living, this part is a bit more complex. It examines life expectations and how we might not always live up to them, as well as relationships, motivations, and our sense of purpose and fulfillment. There’s also that little issue of coming to grips with our feelings. That’s something that not all of us will find palatable.

The Anatomy of Anxiety is a very interesting book, because readers will most likely gravitate towards one of the two different parts as more insightful or more essential to them. Perhaps some people will find more ideas from one part to be more acceptable, or more actionable. Perhaps, then, it’s accepting the relevance and importance of both parts that is the true challenge that the book offers.

Amazingly, with all that has happened to our lives in the past two years, the conversation surrounding mental health has never been so prominent or so widespread. In a way, this makes the complete message of the book more acceptable and more actionable: we’re more aware of what’s happening to us, and maybe, we’re more equipped to take a closer look at why it’s happening.

Read this book. Its message will most likely stand the test of time, but really, the time to read it is now.


Jed is one of the co-founders of Popsicle Games, a game development studio based in the Philippines. He has worked as an animator, web designer, and college instructor, but he continues to dream of writing for a living. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @jrevita.

[Thoughts and views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Fully Booked. Then again, we love our authors anyway.]



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