Anxiety is a normal reaction of fear or apprehension that humans experience when faced with situations that are difficult or represent a threat to us. It is a necessary response that alerts us to situations of danger and helps us to overcome them.
However, if this reaction is too strong, is extended in time and sometimes appears for no apparent reason, we are faced with an anxiety disorder, which can manifest itself as a panic attack or panic disorder or a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
When faced with a sudden and unexpected increase in anxiety, we are talking about panic attacks. These episodes are difficult to predict because they can occur at any time, even during the night, anywhere, creating a sense of unreality and loss of control by an inexplicable terror.
These pathologies, increasingly prevalent in our society due to the increasing the pace of life and often related to stress, can be cured with proper treatment.
If anxiety appears with some frequency and intensity, and is prolonged in time, this is a disorder that hinders the development of a normal life. Some of the symptoms, apart from a feeling of dread, that may indicate that a person is suffering from an anxiety disorder are:
- Difficulty concentrating and stagnation with negative ideas and images. Widespread pessimism caused by a loss of objectivity and constant sense of worry and insecurity.
- Shortness of breath, chest tightness, rapid breathing rate up to and including hyperventilation.
- Irregularities in heart rhythm, sensations of tachycardia and arrhythmia.
- Changes in blood pressure.
- Muscular tension resulting in contractions, spasms and joint stiffness.
- Tremors, tingling and hypersensitivity to intense stimuli such as noise and strong odors.
- Sensation of nausea, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal conditions.
- Frequent urination and pain when urinating.
- Insomnia, difficulty falling asleep.
There are several types of anxiety based on scientific classifications and other disorders, but the most common are:
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): This name is given to the condition in which a person feels anxiety, distress and concerns to various situations of everyday life, and this feeling is prolonged in time.
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): It has usually been considered an anxiety disorder, but it has features that make it different from them. Causes persistent, repetitive, unwanted thoughts that generate anxiety (such as fear of contracting an infection, being dirty). The patient also demonstratescompulsions to repetitive acts (such as checking and rechecking, cleaning behaviors) that the person is forced to perform even if he or she thinks them absurd. This may negatively interfere with daily life.
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): develops after a harrowing experience involving physical damage or actual threat thereof. The damage in question may have affected the person himself or someone close to a situation in which the individual was a witness. It is considered a disorder when symptoms persist for prolonged periods for more than three months after the incident.
- Panic attacks: They are sudden attacks of anxiety and fear, causing feelings of impending doom for about ten minutes, even if symptoms continue for longer. People who have them are unable to predict when they will have an attack, which can occur at any time and in any situation, even when they are sleeping.
- Phobia: is an irrational fear of something that actually represents a minor threat fear. When the phobia relates to situations with other people it is called a social phobia. It affects people who have a costant fear of being observed or judged by the community, and who feel ashamed of their own actions in front of others. If the phobia relates to situations where it is difficult to leave or escape (as both open and closed places, public transport, lifts, or places where there are crowds) is called agoraphobia. Agoraphobia often accompanies panic attacks. Simple phobias involve irrational fear of specific and concrete situations (such as heights, animals).
Although it is sometimes difficult to diagnose, anxiety is one of the mental disorders with the fastest recovery rates, by changing patterns that drive the fear that causes it.
Often the anxiety treatment requires a combination of psychotherapy and medications, which are applied individually according to each patient.
Psychotherapy consists of addressing anxiety with a psychiatrist or psychologist in order to work to overcome its effects. Depending on the nature of the anxiety, the goals of therapy can vary. A common goal is to change patterns of thinking about the particular issue that triggers reactions of disproportionate fear.
In addition to psychotherapy, medication can be effective, especially in severe and prolonged cases, and can facilitate the monitoring of the disorder during psychotherapy.
In Medic BM Centre we have a team of psychologists, psychiatrists and specialists with extensive experience in treating anxiety and if you need it, we can surely help.