Anxiety Symptoms: Anxiety is a basic component of the human condition. But sometimes it generates anguish and other adverse reactions. As a result it changes towards a pathological condition and it is necessary to resort to psychological treatment in order to overcome it.
Its causes and symptoms are a natural emotional reaction to stimuli or situations where something threatens our integrity.
As a monitoring mechanism of our body, it helps us perceive possible dangers and therefore plays a protective role. So much so, that without this protection mechanism, we could hardly have evolved as a species.
This mechanism works by generating a series of changes in our body, which help us manage situations where there are dangers.
But there are many cases in which anxiety is present in our lives and does not have this adaptive function. On the contrary, it happens to be pathological anxiety. So, it acts as a faulty mechanism, which is activated in situations where there are no real dangers. It is in these cases where we find anxiety disorders.
Anxiety is a complex phenomenon, involving different aspects of the person:
At the physiological level
Heart rate or palpitations, chest tightness, sweating, breathing difficulties. In addition, muscle tension, tremors, digestive discomfort, dizziness or a feeling of instability.
On a cognitive and emotional level
Nervousness or anguish, catastrophic or negative thoughts, obsessive ideas, difficulties concentrating or keeping your mind blank, forgetfulness and frequent distractions. Similarly, excessive worries, racing thoughts and difficulty in decision making, irascibility, and depersonalizations.
At the behavioral level
Blockages, avoidance of situations, hypervigilance, changes in the pattern of sleep and / or diet, withdrawal in social relationships, lack of control in reactions.
Causes of Anxiety
If we go back in time, thousands of years ago, the human being had to face dangers and situations that directly threatened his life. At that time, we were easy prey for other predators and anxiety helped us manage these situations, because it allowed us to flee from danger or in the worst case fight to defend ourselves.
In either of these two behaviors, our body will have wear. Hence, all the physiological changes are going to be aimed at preparing us for these two reactions. Whether we fight or flee.
All these changes are coherent and necessary to face these dangers that threatened our life. Similarly, today we need to have these automatic reactions, when we face dangers that compromise our physical integrity.
Currently, the dangers that threaten our lives are rare, since our society has evolved so that they are not daily. However, this alarm system has not evolved to the same extent and is put into operation whenever we perceive a danger, even though these dangers cannot be faced by fight or flight.
In general, the “dangers” that we currently have to face are social: we are anxious about “not being enough”, “failing”, “disappointing others, as well as ourselves”, “not be positively valued “, etc. Therefore, for this type of threat, the fight or flight reactions do not serve as a method to manage the situation.
Anxiety Symptoms: Other causes of Anxiety
Apart from the activation of this wrongly applied survival mechanism, we find other factors that are related to its development.
There are studies that associate the development of anxiety disorders with genetics. In 2001, a group of researchers linked anxiety disorders to chromosome 15. They discovered that people with anxiety, had a duplicate region of this chromosome.
On the other hand, another of the factors involved in anxiety is temperament. Self-demanding, perfectionist people, with low tolerance for uncertainty and frustration, are more likely to develop anxiety disorders.
Types of Anxiety
Within anxiety disorders we can find different manifestations depending on the type of perceived threat.
Generalized anxiety disorder
Pattern of excessive worries associated with different aspects of life, causing states of restlessness and nervousness, at the same time fatigue, difficulty keeping the mind blank or concentrating, muscle tension, sleep problems and irritability occur.
Sudden appearance of intense fear or intense discomfort that reaches its maximum expression in minutes. During panic attacks, the person manifests palpitations, an accelerated heart rate, sweating, tremors, a feeling of suffocation, nausea, or abdominal discomfort. In addition, dizziness, instability or fainting, feeling numb or tingling, a feeling of unreality may appear. Similarly, the fear of losing control and going crazy, as well as the fear of dying. These situations generate in the person a fear of suffering these symptoms again. which results in the person not wanting to leave their home.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Experimentation of recurring thoughts, impulses or images, which appear intrusively and unwanted (obsessions), causing high anxiety. The person tries to suppress these thoughts or neutralize them with other thoughts or acts (compulsions) in which he usually invests a long time and that usually interferes with daily activities.
Post-traumatic stress (PTSD)
Recurring, involuntary, and intrusive distressing memories of traumatic events. As well as, accompanied by the avoidance of stimuli or situations that may recall aspects of the traumatic event. At the same time, there is a persistent negative emotional state. For example, fear, terror, anger, guilt. Therefore, this leads the person to a significant decrease in interest or participation in activities and a detachment from others.
Agoraphobia is a type of anxiety disorder. Agoraphobes avoid crowds or being in a public place or open spaces with people, such as busy streets. The fear can be so overwhelming, that it is common for them to feel that they cannot leave the house. Alone at home, they feel they are safe. It is a disorder that affects more women than men and usually occurs between 25 and 30 years.
Fear or refusal to be in society. You have feelings of shame, insecurity, and concern about what others think. The reaction to these situations is the avoidance of them for fear of rejection.
Hypochondria is a belief that real or imagined physical symptoms are signs of serious illness, despite medical certainty and other evidence that they are not.
The essential characteristic of hypochondria is the concern and fear of suffering, or the conviction of having, a serious illness, from a personal interpretation. It can occur, for example, with moles, small wounds, coughs, even a heartbeat (palpitations), abdominal discomfort, or unclear physical sensations. Although the doctor assures him that he has nothing, the hypochondriac only calms down for a time, but his concern reappears again.
The patient spends his life from office to doctor’s office (“doctor shopping”) and is only temporarily reassured, when a doctor tells him that he has found an illness.
Fear or intense anxiety caused by a specific object or situation (eg, flying, heights, animals, injections, seeing blood, etc.). The fear generated by these situations is disproportionate to the real danger that the situations entail, which leads the person to avoid or actively resist the situation. If they could not be avoided, the person lives with an intense fear of this situation.
Concern about one or more perceived physical flaws or imperfections that are not observable or seem unimportant to others. In response to this concern, the person performs repetitive behaviors or mental acts. This concern causes significant discomfort or deterioration in the social, labor or other areas.
Constant failure to speak in specific situations, in which there is an expectation to speak, for example in school, even though the person may do so in other situations. This alteration interferes with educational, work or social communication achievements.
Separation anxiety disorder
In this case, the trigger for the anxious symptom is the separation from people or places, to which the individual feels a strong attachment. Therefore, it generates a marked emotional upset.
This disorder is frequent in children, although it can also appear in adults. In childhood, it is one of the most common disorders, as it is closely related to the child’s maturation process.
In adulthood it is also frequent, and we can find it in situations such as divorces or loss of a loved one. Other possible causes can be, for example, a change of address, a job change, or the loss of a pet.
This type of anxiety can become difficult to cope with. This is true both for those who suffer from it, as well as for the person or people who are the object of the attachment. For this reason, it frequently affects social and couple relationships. Above all, they can generate dependency relationships, which end up being very oppressive.
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