Worrying about financial problems, exam or moving to another country is natural. But if worries grow like a snowball, turn into fears, begin to interfere with normal life and cannot be dealt with in any way, it seems that you are getting anxiety disorder. According to WHO, 264 million people in the world have an anxiety disorder. Fortunately, unlike some other mental illnesses, it can be cured.
Anxiety is an emotional discomfort that is associated with the expectation and apprehension of unpleasant experiences or dangers. Even if everything around is good and safe, a person experiences a background feeling of impending disaster.
Anxiety in psychology can mean a short-term emotional state, or it can be a stable trait of a person’s character. Anxiety is an emotion characteristic of all people and is necessary for optimal adaptation of a person to the world around him or her. Anxiety, as part of the personality, is a violation in personal development and prevents a full life in society.
A constant feeling of anxiety and fear is the result of the intrapersonal conflict. This may be a contradiction between the image of oneself «ideal» and oneself «real», which is a discrepancy between the level of self-esteem and the level of claims of a person. Anxiety always signals the need to satisfy needs, and a feeling of constant anxiety is an indicator that the need is not satisfied.
A sense of anxiety is also a fact of dissatisfaction with the socio-psychological needs of a person.
Increased anxiety is closely related to the laws between the emotional and motivational-needful areas of the personality. Intrapersonal conflict leads to unmet needs, which creates tension and a state of anxiety.
After constant fear and anxiety are fixed in the human psyche, this new part of the personality is capable of negatively affecting further motives of behavior – its communication with other people, the motivation for success, life activity and actions.
The emotional experience of anxious children and adolescents
A sense of anxiety for no reason is evidence of a negative emotional experience in a person. For anxious people, orientation to external criteria predominates to a significant degree. In addition, anxious people often feel the need for increased self-control, even of minor aspects of the situation. Failure to do this provokes an even greater level of anxiety and the emergence of new negative experiences.
An important role in negative emotional experience is played by the person’s strong memorization and reproduction in memory.
Summarizing, it can be noted that anxiety that occurs no reason is a stable personality formation, which was formed at different age stages. At a primary school and preschool age, the onset of anxiety was triggered by the situation in the family and relationships with parents. During that time, the child began to take shape such qualities as vulnerability, a tendency to resent, an aggravated reaction to the attitude of others. This, as well as a predisposition to remembering negative rather than positive events, leads to the accumulation of negative experience, which is subsequently expressed in the consolidation of anxiety as a personality trait.
The causes of anxiety are somehow related to the dissatisfaction with the needs inherent in each age period.
Symptoms that are observed in people suffering from anxiety can vary from one person to another. There are many symptoms that can indicate the presence of a high level of anxiety, so they can vary significantly depending on the individual. The fact of having at least one of the existing symptoms can cause serious discomfort in a person’s life.
It is important that a person who has these symptoms does not focus on them. Otherwise, a person can convince himself or herself that he or she is seriously ill, as a result of which the anxiety state will only intensify.
A person who is characterized by an increase in anxiety tends to remain in a state of nervousness even in the absence of obvious reasons. A persistent feeling of discomfort and anxiety is one of the symptoms of anxiety, which is most often manifested in people prone to anxiety.
Another symptom of anxiety is the presence of tachycardia – when our heart suddenly accelerates its rhythm for no apparent reason. This symptom is quite unpleasant because it can completely confuse a person. Taking into account the accompanying state of nervousness, he or she can associate this tachycardia with impaired heart function and the risk of a heart attack. If at this moment a person also experiences mild pain in the chest area, he or she thinks that this is a symptom of a heart attack. Obviously, such a physical condition causes us to increase the level of anxiety and nervousness.
Everything has an explanation. The fact is that chest pain occurs because as the air in our lungs expands, they become larger in size and hit the ribs. This makes us feel a slight tightness and muscle tension in the chest area. While maintaining tension, the muscles get tired, which causes tingling and pain in the chest. In this situation, it is recommended to massage the back, namely the cervical and thoracic, to relax the muscles.
Have you ever felt like you are out of breath, as if you are suffocating and breathing with great difficulty? Can you imagine how it should be unpleasant if someone put a pillow on your face and prevents you from breathing? This symptom of anxiety is extremely unpleasant and frightening, but at the same time, it has its own explanation.
The body regulates the amount of air we breathe in and out. When we start to get nervous, we take too frequent breaths and, as a result, inhale more oxygen than our body usually consumes. And at this moment, it is necessary to stop the accumulation of air in the lungs so that the oxygen level becomes balanced again. How does our body do it? It ceases to maintain control over breathing for a short period of time, that is, our lungs stop breathing or do it very slowly.
In addition, you may experience a “lump in your throat” sensation and feel as if you cannot swallow anything or feel a dry mouth. Despite the fact that these sensations are very unpleasant, it is recommended that you try not to think about it and be distracted, trusting the body’s ability to self-regulate.
This symptom of anxiety can manifest as dizziness or a feeling of instability, which leads to fear and, in some cases, to fainting. Such dizziness is the result of hyperventilation of the lungs and excessive tension of the neck as a result of individual life situations.
People who have an overwhelming fear of fainting in situations where they feel anxious should be aware that the likelihood of this happening is extremely small. Are you curious to know what is the reason? Fainting occurs when blood pressure drops sharply. However, in situations that cause anxiety and anxiety, blood pressure tends to increase. Therefore, physiological anxiety can almost never lead to fainting.
Another common symptom of anxiety is the pallor of the skin. This is because during this condition, blood from the blood vessels is redirected to the muscles. The main advice in this situation is not to focus on the problem, try to give it less importance and act naturally to normalize the situation.
This symptom of anxiety is correlated with frequent anxiety. They arise against the background of excessive worries about future possible disasters that may occur and fear of losing control of circumstances.
Constantly thinking about the bad things that can happen, a person begins to feel exhausted, as if he or she is “on the edge” of his or her strength. This greatly complicates his or her social relationships and interactions with other people and reduces the ability to withstand everyday difficulties, making a person much more vulnerable.
People who suffer from manifestations of anxiety often have a tendency to chronic fatigue, increased irritability… Their typical low self-esteem often causes depression, so depression and anxiety disorders are very similar in nature.
There is also a factor that aggravates anxiety problems even more. The fact is that depression and low self-esteem, which people with increased anxiety are prone to, sometimes provoke the formation of suicidal ideas and behaviors (however, this happens with a very small percentage of people).
One common symptom that is present in most people with a high level of anxiety is the presence of sleep problems, such as insomnia and nightmares.
When something disturbs us or provokes tension in us, we tend to think it over and over again. This thought does not go out of our head, and often because of it we lose sleep and peace. There are many proven ways to restore normal sleep quality, and music is one of them. Try not to succumb to negative emotions and frustration, because it has a counterproductive effect. The more you think that you cannot fall asleep and get hung up on the problem, the more difficult it will be for you to solve the problems associated with sleep.
In addition, very often we have nightmares about what concerns us most. Because nightmares are an imitation of events that happen to us in everyday life. It is obvious that nightmares are very unpleasant, but think that they are harmless.
When we are anxious, our body prepares to take any action: fleeing or fighting. It is natural that at this moment the body temperature rises. To maintain temperature balance, our body begins to produce sweat, which is secreted through the sweat glands in order to reduce temperature and cool the body. As anxiety decreases, the level of sweating returns to its normal state.
By analogy with sweating, tremor is a normal reaction of our body to situations that make us nervous or cause us fear. At this moment, the body temperature drops, and it becomes cold for us… Therefore, it is normal that in moments of increased anxiety we suddenly notice how our body trembles or “goosebumps” pass. Usually, these symptoms do not persist for a long time and disappear as the level of anxiety decreases.
We experience stress all day long. There comes a moment when this is reflected in our well-being and the body begins to give “signals”: headaches, inability to relax, back pain, anxiety, etc.
Quite often, a person experiences symptoms associated with pain in the shoulders and neck, up to numbness in the head or face. Why is this happening in these areas? During a state of anxiety and stress, these parts of the body become the first areas in which increased tension is noted. It is worth keeping the situation under control if you suddenly notice numbness or stiffness of the face area. In other cases, there is no particular cause for concern. This symptom is the result of accumulated stress and it will go away on its own when the situation normalizes.
Another symptom of anxiety is an unpleasant tingling sensation in the arms and/or legs caused by carbon dioxide in the blood, which tends to build up in the limbs. It is very important not to confuse these symptoms with the first signs of a stroke or any neurological disease, and not to panic ahead of time. These symptoms do not harm the body and return to their normal state when the “storm subsides.”
With an increased level of anxiety, we often notice discomfort in the gastrointestinal tract, and such ailments as diarrhea, dyspepsia, constipation, nausea, or heartburn.
As we said earlier, when we feel anxiety, our body distributes blood to the muscles to give them more oxygen, and thereby help us run or attack in threatening situations.
As the blood redirects to the muscles, at this point, the gastrointestinal tract begins to experience a lack of blood, which it needs to receive nutrients from the foods we eat. As a result, there is a certain discomfort in the epigastrium.
In addition, anxiety and stress can cause disturbances in our body, such as various skin rashes (dry skin, eczema on the forehead, cheeks or nose) that disappear when anxiety and/or stress begins to subside.
Anxiety also negatively affects the endocrine system. Due to the fact that the nervous system of the brain is responsible for the secretion of chemicals and the regulation of hormones in the body, a woman can notice changes in the menstrual cycle, while a man can experience fluctuations in testosterone levels.
People with increased levels of anxiety tend to have frequently repeated negative thoughts. It seems to them that they are losing control of what is happening, and this makes their perception distorted. The constant feeling of anxiety makes us see the world as a terrible and more dangerous place than it really is.
Sometimes these people feel like they are living in a dream. Over time, they completely lose the concept of “reality.” And they are not aware of what is happening in reality. Gradually, in the absence of help from outside, they begin to go crazy, and the influence of the symptom itself is growing.
After some time, with a constantly high level of anxiety, and regardless of the set of symptoms that are characteristic of your case, a certain moment comes when your brain feels tired and exhausted. It makes you think that you are losing your mind and can no longer cope with the situation in which you live.
Obviously, you are not going crazy. It’s just that your thoughts are greatly affected by your mood. For this reason, it seems to you that you are losing control of the situation.
It makes you feel more irritable. You might even try to avoid situations that you think you are worried about. You are confused, and sometimes act too actively, doing what you would not do in normal condition…
In extreme cases, “derealization” or “depersonalization” can occur. Thit is a violation of perception, in which the surrounding world is perceived as unreal or distant. Sometimes this condition is accompanied by the effects of “already seen” (deja vu) or “never seen”.
To treat feelings of anxiety and fear, you will need to work with a person’s ideas about herself or himself and his or her attitude to himself. Despite the fact that the influence of the environment is a serious and significant factor, it is necessary to start with the correction of self-esteem, and then move on to the correction of communicative and behavioral skills.
Anxiety, as a stable personality trait, can be noticed already from adolescence and even pre-adolescence.
Various methods are used to treat anxiety, including psycho-therapeutic. One of the most effective methods is cognitive-behavioral therapy. Also, in a number of cases, psychodynamic therapy or humanistic therapy is successful.
Group and family therapy can also significantly alleviate the experiences of patients with anxiety and depressive disorders. In collective sessions, psychotherapists teach how to get rid of feelings of anxiety in each individual case, which helps to expand the tools for influencing diseases in each participant.
In addition to psychological assistance, people with increased anxiety may be prescribed medication – antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs, the so-called tranquilizers. Medications for fear and anxiety should be selected individually.
Self-medication and improperly selected drugs can aggravate anxiety symptoms and even suicidal tendencies.
The success of therapy for anxiety disorders depends on the correct diagnosis and treatment tactics chosen. In most cases, anxiety can be treated. The treatment of fear and anxiety can significantly improve the quality of life not only for those who are anxious but also those around them. Indeed, with anxiety and depressive disorders, relatives are involuntarily drawn into the anxious fears of patients.
Prevention of anxiety in children is carried out in several important directions: