It can make us distressed, sometimes desperately so, but fear evolved for a reason: performance enhancement in the face of threat. In this state of heightened mind/body awareness our bodies ready themselves for action with a rise in heart rate and blood flow to our muscles. Time seems to slow down because we integrate information at accelerated speed. Fear has helped us evaluate, remember, and survive threats through millennia.
Anxiety is anticipation of threats that haven't happened yet. The human brain evolved to plan for future threats and still spends a lot of time doing so. Now that we live in a world so amazingly connected by devices and media, we're alerted to threats we would not have thought of before. Our anxiety has helped us advance as a species, and our advancement has promoted our anxiety.
Fear and anxiety are uncomfortable in order to draw our attention to things that might harm us. But sometimes these feelings become so intense they are excruciating, even paralyzing. We develop a fear of fear - the emotion itself feels threatening. When this happens, it's a sign that anxiety has shifted from being helpful to hurtful and its a great time to seek help from an expert. Anxiety disorders are extremely treatable and respond dramatically to techniques of therapy, to dietary and exercise interventions, and to medications. Because all of these treatment approaches are effective and can be used alone or in combination, there's no one right way to tame anxiety. Whether it's test-taking avoidance, panic attacks, or a constant and burdensome sense of worry and unease, anxiety gets better with treatment.