Anxiety is a disorder that is increasing very quickly, and more and more people suffer from it. Its symptoms are varied, but generally it manifests itself in very unpleasant emotional state, feeling of apprehension and uneasiness. Generally are present nervousness, tension, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, tremor, stiffness of the limbs, feeling dizzy and unreality. Anxiety can affect everyone and women between 30 and 50 years are in slight majority.
Many people suffer at least once in a lifetime of anxiety attacks and the most affected are employees and managers, although lately young people are also very stricken because of insecurity both in work and in life as a couple.
Before defining the symptoms of anxiety, let us understand the mechanisms which generate it.
For more details you can also read the article “Why do we suffer from anxiety.”
First of all, our attention must be paid to the part of our brain called the amygdala, which manages some emotions including fear.
In presence of a strong emotions, our sense organs send signals that reach before the thalamus than the amygdala through a very thin nerve bundle (the major senses are: sight, smell, hearing and touch).
At the same time another signal is sent from the thalamus to the neocortex which has the function to analyze all of our past experiences.
In the case of fear, the amygdala interpret the danger signal and activates the resources of our body responsible for defense, sending impulses to the brain that releases adrenaline, dopamine and norepinephrine.
These hormones trigger the defense and escape mechanisms and even some brain functions, such as mnemonic systems in order to check our past experiences to find similarities with the situation we are facing.
In addition, the amygdala also sends messages to the hypothalamus to activate the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, which are autonomous systems that do not depend on our will.
These two nervous systems are regulated by the limbic system: amygdala, thalamus, hypothalamus.
The sympathetic nervous system is a mechanism of activation of our defense resources and is connected to the vascular system and the respiratory system, to muscles and blood vessels.
The parasympathetic system has the opposite function, it tends to regularize the alterations of our systems, heart rate, respiratory rate, muscle tension, etc..
These two systems are indissoluble, first of all the sympathetic system is activated and then the parasympathetic one in order to restore the balance.
It is therefore easy to understand that an abnormality of these two nervous systems involves sudden physical symptoms such as those that occur in the case of panic attacks and anxiety.
In extreme cases, if one of the two systems don’t work there is an excessive activation of our functionalities.
In the case of the sympathetic system the activation would grow up to a collapse, or a failure of the parasympathetic system might slow down the heartbeat leading also to a stop.
So, a strong emotion or interpretation of it directly affects our muscles, our heart, our stomach and all systems that govern the physical balance.
In fact, during the prolonged neurophysiological activation steroids are produced and released into the bloodstream. Steroids are also called stress hormones and they can also lower the level of the immune system, increasing the afflux of adrenaline and dopamine that produce the typical symptoms anxiety:
- temporary heart problems and palpitations,
- hyperventilation resulting in a feeling of lack of oxygen,
- muscle pain,
- panic attacks.
The main symptoms of anxiety
Who suffers from anxiety has physical, psychological and neurovegetative symptoms.
The main physical symptoms are:
- nervousness, irritability and overreaction to the smallest disturbances
- excessive apprehension and worry for themselves and for others
- fear or dread
- pessimism and lack of confidence in themselves and in their abilities
- continuous feeling of danger continues
- difficulty in concentration and attention
- inclination to crying
The physical and neurovegetatitve symptoms affect the whole-body. They are:
- palpitations and rapid heart rate, irregular pulse
- rise and fall in blood pressure
- dizziness and lightheadedness
- tension, soreness and muscle pain
- increased sweating and cold or sweaty hands
- sexual disorders
- increased frequency of urination, menstrual cycle disorders
- visual disturbances
- Weakness and easy fatigue
- Ringing in the ears
- Tendency to clench teeth during the day and during the night
- Voice quavering
- Increased respiratory rate and wheezing
- Changes in salivation and dry mouth
- Hot flashes or sudden cold
- Suffocation and shortness of breath
- Pain in the center of the chest
- Stomach cramps and difficulty swallowing
In addition, a mechanism very common for those suffering from anxiety is related to hyperventilation, that is the person breathes more.
In this case the short breathing causes an increase in the rate of breathing, which in turn causes an increase in blood oxygenation.
Too high oxygen levels in the blood do not allow the tissues to assimilate the oxygen they need (Verigo-Bohr effect), instead a higher level of carbon dioxide in the blood allows oxygen to pass into the tissues.
The lack of oxygen in the tissues increases the demand for air into the lungs, so breathing increases even more, the blood is more oxygenated and you get into a vicious cycle that increases anxiety.
When we are in a state of anxiety, as well as we breathe faster, we think faster. The problem lies in the fact that we focus only on the problem and often the only way out that we identify is the escape from the problem.
Since who is anxious looks for a way out, whenever there is a new attack of anxiety he looks for that escape behavior that worked in the past.
One understands that in this way anxiety entails a progressive reduction of the activities of the person who activates escamotages to avoid finding in unwanted situations.
These esamotages lead to a restriction of the person freedom who begins to fear threats to its physical and psychological integrity. The person shows the fear of crowded places or fear of the dark, with panic attacks.
Phobias (phobia for the elevator or enclosed spaces, etc..) can also occur. Anxiety for that specific topic or object is so strong to cause the escape of the person.
What to do if you suffer from anxiety
If we suffer from chronic anxiety we fight with ourselves to find solutions that allow us to live a “normal” life and be accepted by others. So we think to cure ourselves with drugs, usually with anti-anxiety drugs or tranquilizers, to banish those moods so unpleasant and debilitating that consume a large part of our energy.
When we decide to do this, (it may be necessary), we must not forget that these drugs do not cure the real causes of anxiety and can cause addiction.
For our well-being is important to understand the phenomena that generate anxiety are basically mental phenomena due to the misunderstanding between our mind and our body, usually due to:
- high nervousness
- lack of rest
- excessive competitiveness and hard work led to the extreme.
Therefore, for those who suffer from anxiety one of the most important things to do is to learn to listen and understand her own feelings.
In the modern world we are not accustomed to listening to our bodies, we are no longer able to pick up the signals that alter our psychophysical balance and we realize whath happens only when we experience physical symptoms.
If we learn to listen more to our body we’ll do not suffer anxiety, or at least we will be able to accept it and deal with it.
You don’t have to contain anxiety by blocking the symptoms but you have to dissolve it in some way, doing physical exercise and talking with people you trust.
It is important to accept our own weakness and it is equally important to learn how to prevent the discomfort, recognizing the signs and respecting our inner balance.
Only when this is not enough and the anxious state manifests itself into something more complex may be necessary to resort to psychology.
It is normal to feel anxious about something unexpected or worries us even subconsciously, so you can live with a state of anxiety and you can overcome it.
For more on this topic you can read the article “How to cure anxiety.”
The information provided in this page are for informational purposes only.
The only purpose is to maintain the value and the nature of the network and of this site, that is to facilitate the availability of information.