We look around and what we discover are obligations and demands, less time for intimacy or the realization that our values and our actions are a puzzle that does not fit. Then we feel anxiety.
Carmen boasts of being puny and perfectionist, but easily falls into despair by wanting to control everything and slips, like a slide, into impotence and lack of control.
Julian always depends on the approval of others and, in pursuing success as his only food, moves away so much from his own nature that he becomes unable to interpret the wise and obvious signals that come from his body.
Magdalena compares with mid-world and always loses by using Ashwaghandha 1,300 mg; It disqualifies what it is and what it does, and inhibits its authentic expressiveness, filling with symptoms and physical ailments.
The list, which could be endless, may help us realize that when the symptoms of anxiety become present, they are pointing out that the time has come to review what I am doing with my life, and to begin to consider whether we will not have to change some things.
WHAT IS ANXIETY EXACTLY?
For a few years now, the word “anxiety” occupies increasing spaces in the media. It is a term out of the field of clinical psychology and that comes to us as a literal translation of the English word anxiety, although in Spanish we already had the term “anguish.”
We met the existential anguish in the forties thanks to existentialist philosophers such as Kierkegaard and, later, Sartre, who associated it with our fear of death, at the end of life.
Many times, we also experience distress as a society, facing natural disasters, wars or crisis situations.
However, the anguish that has become a public health problem in our modern societies is neither that named by the existentialists and that it is related to our fear of death, nor that which comes from the horror of tragedies. Do not.
Contemporary anguish is linked to a deep separation from everything that has always represented the source of joy and the meaning of living: our affections, the loving cultivation of intimate ties, the connection with nature and the care of the living
This estrangement produces a very intense oppression and nonsense. And trying to flee from it leads us to a life full of over-exigencies, urgencies and incessant constraints.
FROM STRESS TO CALM
Such is the extension of the phenomenon of anxiety in our day, that we have baptized it with a specific name: stress.
This word, which originally designated the biological changes that scientists detected in an organism that was going through some pressing situation, left the laboratories to settle in the middle of family conversations.
What scientists called “general adaptation syndrome” or stress, refers to the adjustments necessary to get out of a risk situation. Of course, it is assumed that once the fight or escape allows one to get rid of the danger, the organism in question recovers its previous state of calm or balance.
But what happens if that risk situation is prolonged for a long time or indefinitely?
We are prepared, organically, to face serious or dangerous moments, but we deteriorate greatly if the state of over-exigency is prolonged excessively. The experience of threat, the feeling of danger, generates what is known as “signal distress” or simply fear.
Fear promotes a cascade of nervous and hormonal devices that prepare the body to escape or fight.
These devices are very precise and effective in specific and relatively short situations, but they become especially harmful if they are prolonged for too long periods of time.
WHAT HAPPENS IN OUR BODY?
During the first moments of danger we produce large amounts of adrenaline, which raises our blood pressure, our heart beats much faster, the pupils dilate and many other physiological adjustments of great importance are also altered.
Then, another hormone from the adrenal gland, cortisol, begins to segregate in large quantities, which reinforces and deepens the previous state.
If the situation persists and we enter a state of chronic stress, our body begins to suffer and becomes more vulnerable. The high levels of cortisol in the blood make us prone to that state, which began with stress and continued with anxiety, now enters depression.
Depression is often the result of chronic stress and anxiety, sustained for prolonged times.
The excess of cortisol also weakens us, makes our defenses decrease and the first and fundamental consequence is that it makes us more susceptible to infectious diseases. It is enough to know that these defenses are the same that protect us from the growth of tumor cells, so it could, for example, increase the predisposition to cancer.
The states of excessive anxiety trace a path that is easily entered, but from which it is difficult to exit.
Matching statistics in many countries ensure that almost 50% of the urban population will suffer at some point in their life some form of anxiety disorder, and that in 10% of cases it will be panic crisis.
The simultaneous presence of anxiety and depression symptoms occurs in 58% of patients with anxiety disorders
SYMPTOMS AND SIGNS
Anxiety almost always presents as a disorder of the body. And any of these symptoms appear
- Dizziness ensues
- Or the feeling of intensely perceiving the heartbeat;
- The view is clouded,
- Some difficulty breathing appears
Or an indefinable gastric sensation that prevents us from enjoying food.
The body and its sensations become threatening. They announce the abyss. Some thoughts may accompany the collapse: “I’m going crazy”, “I’m afraid this will happen again, I can’t stand it anymore”, “something horrible is about to happen”, “this gets out of hand, I’m afraid of losing control “
AN ALLY CALLED FEAR
But be careful, neither anxiety nor fear is our enemies. On the contrary, fear protects us from risks and dangers, tells us what can be harmful to us, which can harm us or hurt us in a serious or painful way.
Anxiety is the result of not being ignorant or foolish: we know that pain, suffering and death exist, that they are part of our life.
But those are not the real dangers.
Our true enemies are overwhelmed anxiety and dysfunctional fear, both the result of psychological conflicts that escape us, of contaminating relationships in which we get involved or of the excess with which we conduct our lives. We must act on them.
TREATMENT: ACT ON THE CAUSES
In psychiatry, anxiolytics are the medications used to combat the symptoms of anxiety and are among the most consumed in the western world. But beyond its effectiveness in controlling anxiety symptoms, abusive or erroneous consumption of anxiolytics causes serious physical and psychological disorders.
Although anxiolytics attenuate or cancel out symptoms of anxiety obviously leave intact the psychological conflict that persists behind the visible symptoms . It is as if a doctor treated an infection only with anti-fever medication. It would eliminate the symptom but not the causes of the fever.
RECONNECT WITH THE ILLUSION
Overcoming anxiety goes through reconnecting with that true source of well-being that is affection. Acquire again that way of being genuine, strong and warm, the result of maintaining authentic relationships. Then, life becomes a promising space of discovery and not a threatening wasteland.
Psychotherapy can help us determine what aspects of our current life separate us from that path.
- What do I want from life?
- What prevents me from getting it
- Where I am going now.
There are some very effective treatments that allow a real approach to the causes of anxiety. Among the main ones we can mention the gestalt therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy or client-centered psychotherapy.
Relaxation and meditation techniques such as yoga are also useful.
But beyond schools, the most important thing is to opt for a bond with the therapist to help us address our conflicts with confidence, and believe in the possibility of their resolution