Anxiety : What is Anxiety?

This problem is a natural adaptive mechanism that allows us to become alert to compromised events. Actually, a certain degree of anxiety provides an adequate component of caution in especially dangerous situations. Moderate anxiety can help us stay focused and face the challenges that lie ahead.

Sometimes, however, thi problem response system is overwhelmed and malfunctions. More specifically, anxiety is disproportionate to the situation and sometimes even occurs in the absence of any obvious danger. The subject feels paralyzed with a feeling of helplessness, and in general, a deterioration of psychosocial and physiological functioning occurs. It is said that when anxiety occurs at inappropriate times or is so intense and lasting that it interferes with the person’s normal activities, then it is considered as a disorder.

Anxiety disorders are, on the whole, the most frequent psychiatric illness. Among them is the disorder phobic: about 7 for women and a 4.3 per cent of men suffer from specific phobias (to an animal, an object, darkness, etc), while the so-called social phobias (the ability of a person to relate in a way affable with others) are found in 13 percent of the population.

Generalized anxiety disorder occurs in a percentage of 3 to 5 percent of adults (at some point during the year). Women are twice as likely to have it.

Panic disorder is less common and is diagnosed in just under 1 percent of the population. Women are two to three times more likely.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder affects about 2.3 percent of adults and happens about as often in women as in men.

Post-traumatic stress affects at least 1 percent of the population at some point during their lifetime, although in people at higher risk, such as war veterans, it has a higher incidence.

Among its causes would be the:

  • Genetic causes: This human problem can be inherited through genes.
  • Circumstantial causes: traumatic events such as a traffic accident, an attack or a fire can cause this stress problem; in these cases, the feeling of anxiety may disappear when the problem ends or remain for months or years. This is what is known as post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • Drug use: Amphetamines, ecstasy or LSD are narcotic substances that can cause anxiety. For some people, caffeine or theine can also produce it.
  • Significant life experiences: without becoming traumatic, vital changes in the present such as pregnancy, or even alterations in the workplace (a dismissal, a promotion, etc.) can produce anxiety. Anxiety is a normal feeling of fear in the face of threatening or difficult situations; it is estimated that 1 in 10 people suffer from an episode of anxiety attack at some point in their life. This stress problem by itself is not bad, as it alerts us and motivates us to cope with dangers. It becomes a problem when anxiety episodes are frequent, intense and appear for no apparent reason, limiting the person in his day to day.

To prevent this problem, it is important to adopt a healthy lifestyle and avoid the use of drugs and substances that cause it (caffeine, theine and drugs such as ecstasy, amphetamines or LSD).

Practicing physical exercise on a regular basis, especially outdoors, also helps to clear the mind and avoid feelings.

Similarly, relaxation techniques help to combat the occurrence of crises. They can be learned from the hand of professionals or in a self-taught way, through books and audiovisual self-help material.

This problem manifests itself on an emotional and physical level. It is important to recognize both types of manifestations and go to the doctor as soon as they are detected, since a person with signs of anxiety experiencing these symptoms may consider them as signs of a serious illness and, accordingly, worsen in the disease.

  • Mental symptoms: constant worry, tiredness, irritability and problems concentrating and falling asleep.
  • Physical symptoms: high heart rate, excessive sweating, muscle tension, tremors, dizziness, fainting, etc.

There are several types:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder consists of a chronic tension even when nothing seems to cause it. This excessive worry or nervousness is almost daily and is diagnosed as such when it lasts for at least six months.
  • In panic disorder (or panic attack): The patient experiences recurrent crises of distress that arise spontaneously. It is an acute and extreme anxiety in which it is common for the person suffering from it to believe that he is going to die. These sudden attacks of intense fear have no direct cause. Sometimes, patients suffering from this disorder develop anxiety to experience the next attack, the occurrence of which they cannot foresee, is the so-called anticipatory anxiety.
  • The phobic disorder has as an essential feature the presence of an irrational and persistent fear of a specific object, activity or situation with the consequent avoidance of the feared object. For example, the fear of flying, birds or open spaces.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder in which includes non-voluntary thoughts or actions that the patient cannot stop thinking or doing so as not to generate anxiety. In any case, the subject recognizes the absurd character of his thoughts or actions. For example: wash your hands every few minutes.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs in those cases in which unpleasant psychological sequelae occur after the impact of an emotional trauma, a war, a rape, etc. It is characterized by persistent memories of the traumatic event, an emotional state with heightened vigilance and the general reduction of interest in everyday events.

In the presence of some of the mentioned manifestations, you should go to your psychiatrist who will rule out the existence of a systemic disease. To do this, the doctor will take into account the following aspects, to see signs of anxiety disorder:

  • Physical symptoms that he presents.
  • Previous medical and psychological history of the patient and his family.
  • Possibility that you suffer from an illness that generates anxiety disorder.
  • Influence of toxic substances such as caffeine, cannabis or cocaine and other synthetic drugs, triggers of anxiety and distress crises in people with predisposition.
    Many of them will be obtained through a semi-structured interview, and will offer you treatment. Drugs are the treatment of choice for generalized signs of anxiety.
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