Anxiety is a negative emotional state, expressed by a sense of uncertainty, the expectation of bad events. Internally, it manifests itself as a feeling of anxiety, an experience of excitement, an unpleasant premonition of impending trouble. External signs of anxiety are absent-mindedness, restlessness, obsessive movements, and a pained expression on the face. For diagnostics, a survey, observation, and psychodiagnostic tests are used: questionnaires, and projective techniques. Symptomatic care includes psychotherapy, pharmacotherapy, and relaxation techniques.
Anxiety is expressed as a vague vague fear of possible future events. It often occurs for no reason, i.e. in situations where there is no real danger. A person has a premonition of trouble, but does not know how to avoid or overcome it. Internal tension is partially reduced by motor activity, so restless people can not sit still, walk around the room, bite their nails, aimlessly turn on the mobile phone screen several times, and perform other seemingly meaningless actions.
Waiting for trouble forces you to focus on finding ways to solve or avoid future problems. There is distraction, some detachment from reality. Thinking becomes selective: a person pays attention to events related to the disturbing situation, ignores all others. In this way, he confirms that his experiences are justified. Sometimes the feeling of anxiety increases to a state of anxiety, and disorders of perception of time, space, people, and actions develop.
Subjectively, anxiety is perceived as anxiety-a combination of fear, sadness, shame, guilt for no reason. During the most acute experiences, physiological changes begin to be realized: rapid heartbeat, increased sweating, nausea, dizziness, headaches. If there is no understanding of the relationship between anxiety and physical malaise, a person looks for the cause of discomfort by contacting somatic doctors – therapists, neurologists, cardiologists.
The restless person’s thinking is directed from the past to the future – an unfavorable or dangerous event is extracted from the memories, and then something similar is predicted. In this case, the previous experience can be old or just happened, personal or someone else’s. For example, after a reprimand from the boss, the discomfort increases every time you come to the workplace, because there is a chance to meet the manager. Similarly, a restless state can develop before flying on an airplane, if you have previously watched a movie about a plane crash.
Speaking about anxiety without a cause, it is worth noting that the reason, as a rule, is there, but it is not recognized or evaluated by others as insignificant. The key function of anxiety is to encourage actions that increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome of events, and to prevent potentially dangerous behavior. The biological basis of this experience is the mobilization of psychophysiological processes to overcome a possible traumatic situation. The negative effect of anxiety is a feeling of fear that hinders effective activity.
Causes of concern
Depending on the cause of anxiety, there are three types of anxiety: adaptive, primary, and secondary. In situations of immediate danger, conflict, or acute stress, anxiety develops as a response to the body’s mobilization: all systems are activated, preparing for fight or flight. Primary true anxiety, which develops into anxiety, is observed in neurosis, secondary-in some somatic and mental diseases, taking medications, narcotic drugs.
In contrast to pathological anxiety without a cause, when there is a real danger, an adaptation reaction develops. It is manifested by the activation of physiological systems – increased breathing, increased heartbeat, a rush of blood to the muscles, mental readiness to run or fight. Stressful factors, threats to life or health provoke feelings of anxiety, aggression, and anxiety. Such adaptation reactions are triggered in the following cases::
Strict upbringing. Within families where parents cultivate conscientiousness, integrity, and a sense of duty, the child does not have the freedom to express naturally existing fears and aggression. The suppression of these emotions leads to the consolidation of anxious and suspicious character traits, which is manifested by the fear of being open, obsessive fears, doubts, and uncertainty. A person is formed with an increased level of anxiety, anxiety.
Unpredictability of the behavior of others. A state of constant adaptive readiness is necessary when interacting with unbalanced, emotionally unstable people, strangers. The feeling of anxiety is constantly present in children whose parents often change the rules of behavior (yesterday it was impossible to eat sweets, today it is possible). Other examples include speaking to an unfamiliar audience, or talking to a hot-tempered boss. Stress prepares the psyche for a quick choice of response.
Danger situations. When there is a real threat to well-being, concern arises for a reason. When the outcome of a situation is clearly dangerous (injury, serious illness, death), fear appears. If there are various possible outcomes, a sense of unease is formed. Examples: waiting for the result of a medical examination in the presence of symptoms of the disease, involuntary participation in hostilities, terrorist acts.
Conflict situations. The clash of interests and different points of view is stressful. The psyche enters a state of readiness for a quick reaction of defense, attack, or withdrawal from conflict. Feeling anxious allows you to maintain a high level of tension. The more significant areas of life are affected in the confrontation, the more likely it is to develop a neurotic disorder with anxiety.
Persistent anxiety without a cause contributes to the appearance of anxiety – the dominant symptom of neurotic disorders. The development of neurosis occurs when situational anxiety manifests itself frequently, begins to spread to an increasingly wide range of events, and is felt almost constantly. Often, a person understands that there are no reasons for such experiences, but they cannot change their state. The feeling of anxiety is characteristic of patients with the following neuroses::
Generalized anxiety disorder. In patients with this disease, feelings of anxiety and restless experiences are stable. Emotional stress has no connection with real events. Fears are general: fear of an accident, illness (in the absence of symptoms), sudden death. People report a “bad feeling”, a constant expectation of bad news. Generalized anxiety is more common in women, accompanied by vegetative disorders – tremors, dizziness, nausea.
Panic disorder: Patients suffer from recurrent panic attacks – sudden fear, physical discomfort for no reason. Panic attacks last from 5 to 20 minutes, accompanied by shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, and chest pain. Anxiety is felt before an attack, when panic is approaching. It is associated with the inability to control the attack, fear of death.
Phobias. Phobic disorders are characterized by a constant strong fear of specific objects or situations. The experiences are intense, often occur in the absence of a real threat, and are uncontrollable. They are caused by the potential development of a frightening situation or meeting with the object of fear. Common options are claustrophobia, a feeling of intense fear from the thought of meeting a dog, climbing a height, or using a public toilet.
PTSD. Post-traumatic stress – the consequences of a traumatic event (war, violence) with repeated experience of what happened in dreams and thoughts, mental numbness, increased excitability. A restless state often develops in the first stage, when a high focus on the trauma is maintained. Patients mentally return to the past, do not adapt well to real life.
Psychosomatic disorders. In somatoform disorders, health concerns dominate – patients complain of somatic ailments, but medical examinations do not confirm the presence of the disease. A complex of experiences is formed, due to increased attention to the body’s signals, the lack of a diagnosis.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder. Obsessive-compulsive neurosis is represented by obsessive thoughts and repetitive actions that relieve mental discomfort. A person is concerned about the presence of disturbing thoughts, the inability to control them. The most common variant of obsessive – compulsive disorder is the idea of contagious objects around you and frequent hand washing.
Experiencing anxiety without a cause can be a symptom of mental disorders or somatic diseases, a side effect of medications, or the result of taking psychoactive substances. In all these cases, the feeling of anxiety occurs a second time, not because of external events and their evaluation, but because of physiological changes. Restless states develop when certain areas of the brain are affected, with biochemical shifts with increased production of neurotransmitters and hormones. The symptom is characteristic of a number of diseases, such as:
Depression. The physiological basis of anxiety and depressive disorders is a violation of the metabolism of serotonin and dopamine. A deficiency of these compounds in the brain regions responsible for emotional responses is manifested by a state of depression, gratuitous anxiety, and anxiety. The trigger of depression can be an external negative event or directly biochemical changes (hereditary, triggered by diseases).
Schizophrenia: Restless thoughts are typical of the paranoid form of schizophrenia. They are caused by delusions and hallucinations: ideas about persecution, suggestion of various violent actions by voices. In addition, concern about one’s own condition is observed in patients at the initial stages of schizophrenia, when for no reason there is a feeling of disorientation in one’s own personality and environment.
Organic brain damage. Symptoms of anxiety are found in diseases affecting the functioning of the reticular formation, namely, the activity of the blue spot. Axons from this nucleus go back to the upper layers of the cerebral cortex, the cerebellar cortex, the hippocampus, and other structures involved in the formation of emotions. Lesions of these brain regions are represented by vascular, traumatic, tumor, and neurodegenerative pathologies.
Endocrine diseases. Hormonal shifts are often accompanied by the development of psychoemotional disorders. Mood disorders are diverse and occur for no reason. The most common depressive states are those with anxiety, anxiety, and fear. They are provoked by an increase in thyroid hormones, the adrenal cortex. They are observed in thyrotoxicosis, hypercorticism syndrome, Itsenko-Cushing’s disease .
Taking psychostimulants. Psychostimulants, including narcotic drugs, have an excitatory effect on the nervous system. They increase the transmission of neurotransmitters in various parts of the brain, causing restless thoughts, panic, and sometimes hallucinations, illusions, and psychoses. The most pronounced persistent symptoms of a psychoemotional disorder become a consequence of long-term druguse .
Persistent feelings of anxiety can be a symptom of somatic or mental illnesses. This condition is diagnosed by psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and psychologists. When a patient turns to specialists, a clinical survey is initially conducted, during which the duration of emotional distress, the frequency and severity of anxiety states, and possible causes are specified. In addition, the following diagnostic methods are informative::
Observation. Patients are characterized by restlessness, emotional instability, and absent-mindedness. It can be difficult for them to distract themselves from their own experiences, to concentrate on the words of the doctor. During the consultation, they often change their body position for no reason, and move their hands over objects (clothing fasteners, phone, bag). Obsessive actions designed to reduce tension are possible.
Psychodiagnostic questionnaires. In order to determine the level of anxiety, special psychological tests are used: the Taylor Scale of explicit anxiety, the Spielberger Scale of anxiety, and the Condash Scale of socio-situational fear. The results allow us to quantify how pronounced the feeling of anxiety, anxiety, and fear is.
Projective tests. To identify the patient’s hidden or denied emotional state, projective research methods are used: drawing tests, interpretation tests of unstructured drawing material. Examples of such techniques include drawing a person, the Rorschach test, and TAT. Based on the results, it is possible to determine the presence of anxiety, to assume its origin.
If restless thoughts and feelings exist for no reason, the patient is referred for consultation to a neurologist or endocrinologist. Narrow specialists determine the presence or absence of endocrine and neurological diseases as a factor in the development of emotional disorders. A survey is carried out with the specification of somatic complaints (pain, ailments), examination, laboratory tests of blood for the content of hormones, instrumental studies of the brain and blood vessels feeding it.
The therapeutic process begins with a conversation with the doctor, where the specialist talks about ways to treat the underlying disease and eliminate anxiety. Methods of symptomatic treatment are selected individually, taking into account the cause and severity of the emotional disorder, the patient’s attitude to it. Psychotherapy sessions are more appropriate for neurotic disorders , and pharmacotherapy is more appropriate for secondary anxiety caused by a somatic disease.
Relaxation techniques are effective in eliminating anxiety
Relaxation techniques are effective in eliminating anxiety
Feelings of anxiety are effectively corrected by a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy techniques. At the first stage – the stage of mental development – a psychotherapist discusses with the patient the causes of anxiety, situations that provoke emotional tension. It teaches you to identify physical discomfort, changes in thoughts when experiencing anxiety. At the stage of behavioral correction, the exposure method can be used, when the patient creates a vivid mental image of a dangerous situation, while simultaneously applying relaxation and deep breathing techniques, visualizing the successful outcome of the event.
Severe forms of anxiety disorders, accompanied by pronounced vegetative reactions and feelings of fear, require a slightly different sequence of psychotherapy. First, the patient is taught self-control: restoring normal breathing, distraction, and switching attention. When a person becomes able to independently avoid attacks of fear and panic, they move on to the stage of behavioral therapy.
Medications are prescribed for severe anxiety on the background of a mental disorder, neurological or endocrine disease. Medical correction allows you to control the symptom, even if it has occurred without an obvious cause. It has the advantage of being fast – acting-improvement occurs before the patient feels the positive effects of psychotherapy or other basic treatment. The use of tranquilizers – anti-anxiety drugs-is widespread. Additionally, antidepressants, herbal remedies with a calming, sedative effect are prescribed.
Mild forms of anxiety are eliminated through regular practice of physical and mental relaxation. Relaxation techniques are taught more successfully in group classes that combine breathing exercises and auto-training. Patients develop muscle sense, master progressive relaxation, abdominal breathing, and applied relaxation. Through the control of muscle tension and the breathing cycle, emotions and thoughts are corrected. Breathing yoga can be considered as an alternative to psychotherapeutic group methods.