Anxiety is a disorder that is becoming increasingly popular and many people suffer from it.
Anxiety is a feature of the modern world, where everyone feels a bit under stress and anxious, but the anxiety is a natural and primitive phenomenon that is essential to activate our defenses when we are faced with an obstacle or a potentially dangerous situation, creating feelings of discomfort.
Many disorders characterize the anxiety attack, generally perceived as a very unpleasant emotional state and defined in this way only when the level of neurophysiological activation remains high even after the cessation of the dangerous stimulus.
Anxiety can affect everyone although women between 30 and 50 years are slight majority.
The most affected are the employees and managers, even if young people are recently affected by this disease because of the precariousness of work and affective life.
According to an authoritative source of statistical data (WHO) in Western countries anxiety affects 1 in 5 people on average, at least once in their lifetime.
What is anxiety
Anxiety is defined as “A FEAR WITHOUT ITS OBJECT” because very often it appears without a reason.
Anxiety is a natural phenomenon that we need to activate important defenses for the maintenance of our lives. The origin of this disorder is related to the altered functioning of certain brain circuits that involve the production of serotonin and norepinephrine.
Anxiety accompanies man since the Stone Age, when it was a positive emotion working as alarm in hostile environments full of dangers and threats.
The anxiety disorder can occur at any time of life, often related to a particularly critical periods of transition, when we face new work or personal challenges, or when we are faced with difficult choices.
It is a disorder associated with our emotional sphere and is a particular physical and mental state which occurs when we are stressed by a situation of danger or uncertainty, whether due to external and internal factors.
The external situation is the real one and it is perceived by us as a threat that could pose a risk to our safety.
The internal situation is imaginary, a negative thought, a negative internal dialogue.
In this case, anxiety is the body’s response to an uneasiness of the mind.
The function of anxiety is to reduce or let us avoid dangerous situations, calling our attention and warning us against, stimulating us to realize and achieve very important goals for our lives.
Anxiety acts in the sub-conscious to keep us away from dangerous situations and it does that creating feelings of discomfort in order to prevent us from doing certain actions.
Anxiety creates a neurophysiological activation detectable by these effects:
- increase of adrenaline and corticosteroids,
- rapid heartbeat,
- increased blood pressure and peripheral vasoconstriction,
- increased rate of breathing and “shortness of breath”
- flushing of heat or cold,
- sweating of the hands and the rest of the body,
- increased blood flow in the muscles,
- increased muscle tension,
- evacuation of the intestine,
- suspension of digestion,
- dilation of the pupils.
It is clear that this neurophysiological activation was important for the survival of the person who lived in a primitive hostile environment. He had to deal with situations to the best of his physical abilities, when the physical readiness was very important.
The immediate activation meant being able to attack or escape from a predator, or to remain perfectly still.
A sudden fear can trigger the feeling of fear only if the situation is perceived in that way by the way of reflex or if the cognitive apparatus can compare it with a situations already experienced in the past and experienced as dangerous.
Let’s take for example an animal saved from an attack by a predator. Its sympathetic system is activated through a reflected nerve pathway (therefore immediate) when it hear a roar or see the other animals of the herd run off shooting.
It is normal to jump when we are scared by an unexpected stimulus perceived as dangerous, and it is normal that anxiety stops when this exposure ends.
If the activation begins with the perception of danger and ends with its cessation, anxiety does not occur.
Anxiety is normal, when it is a natural response of the body to stress or danger.
In this case the level of neurophysiological activation is limited and does not last long, it is proportionate to the difficulties we face, there is no unpleasant sensation or pain, and increases the effectiveness and efficiency of our operations, without compromising either work, nor the relationship with other people.
It never becomes an obstacle to but it makes us more prepared, attentive, efficient. It is an incentive for our activities and allows us to “make more.”
When the level of neurophysiological activation remains consistently high, and persists even whith the cessation of the dangerous stimuli (instead of being temporary as the result of scare), or when the stimuli are not objectively dangerous, then everything becomes harmful and we talk about anxiety disorder.
When anxiety ceases to be a stimulus and becomes a disorder, then one speaks of pathology.
Anxiety as a disease
Let’s try to understand together why a natural mechanism of defense becomes a real disease.
We can say that this is when the intensity of neurophysiological activation is excessive in comparison to the difficulty to be faced, there is a feeling of discomfort and suffering, the abilities to concentrate are reduced, memory and self-efficacy are affected and there are difficulty in social relationships.
Today, except for those who has particular works or lives in very hostile environments (from the physical point of view), the anxiety response of our body is inadequate to the situation.
In the modern world, all the dangers that could worry in the primitive world there are no more, today we have everything and often anxiety is due to the desire to overcome our limitations.
When the neurophysiological activation is very high and is consistently and continuously present (for longer and longer periods), starting to affect our everyday activities such as work and relationships with colleagues and family, then we are in presence of a disease.
Anxiety has in itself an aggressive nature and this leads to agitation in the individual
Those who suffer from anxiety has an excessive worry about the future, he is afraid of not being able to cope with the problems of everyday life, such as responsibilities at work and at home, he is afraid of the life that he has yet to live.
The anxious person lives in a constant state of alarm that causes her to fear misfortune, accidents and failures and not to tolerate competitive situations.
Many people suffer from anxiety because they are afraid of not succeeding, to stay behind, to be cut out, not up to it..
It does not matter if we can achieve our goals, anxiety is our desire to always put ourselves in the right place at the right time, to be able to always know what to do, and always do our best.
The objectives that today people are asking are the permanent job, the economic certainties and the affective certainty.
Anxiety reminds us that all this can be erased and swept away in a moment, the fear that afflicts us in the modern world is to lose it all.
We suffer anxiety because we do not feel useful, because it seems that anyone need us, because we do not know where we are going, because we do not find a meaning in the things we do.
We don’t have to confuse anxiety with depression as anxiety takes possession of us suddenly, it strikes us without warning and in a few moments grows limiting us in our activities.
Depression instead pitfall in us slowly and then destroys us, making every moment of our lives gray and sad.
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