Many of us experience states of anxiety or great periods of stress during our lives: just think of the number of times we say things like “this situation creates a lot of anxiety”.
But how can we actually define anxiety and stress?
Anxiety is an emotional state associated with a condition of alertness and fear that is generally excessive in relation to the real situation.
SYMPTOMS OF ANXIETY
The main symptoms of anxiety are:
ease of crying;
Generally all individuals run into feelings of anxiety, which – if adequately motivated – remains a transitory sensation with a positive effect. Conversely, anxious episodes that arise without real justification are at the origin of excessive reactions characterizing pathological or negative anxiety.
IS ANXIETY NATURAL?
Anxiety, however, is not an abnormal phenomenon: it is a basic emotion that involves a state of activation of the body that is activated when a situation is perceived by the subject as dangerous.
In the human species, anxiety translates into an immediate tendency to explore the environment, in the search for explanations, reassurance and escape routes, as well as in a series of physiological phenomena such as the increase in the frequency of breathing, heartbeat ( tachycardia), sweating, dizziness, etc.
However, when the activation of this system becomes excessive, we are faced with an anxiety disorder that can affect and complicate a person’s life.
WHAT ARE ANXIETY DISORDERS?
Known and clearly diagnosable anxiety disorders are:
Specific phobia (airplane, enclosed spaces, spiders, dogs, cats, insects, etc.);
Panic disorder and agoraphobia (fear of being in situations from which there is no quick escape);
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder;
Post-traumatic stress disorder;
Generalized anxiety disorder.
According to the guidance provided in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (fifth edition; DSM-5; American Psychiatric Association, 2013), anxiety disorders differ from normal developmental fear or anxiety because they are excessive or persistent (typically lasting 6 months or more).
HOW TO TREAT ANXIETY
Pharmacological treatments can be used for overt pathologies, when the anxiety is due to an organic disease.
In the case of situational anxiety it is necessary for the individual to overcome that difficult moment by himself, eventually he can use hypnotic-sedative drugs for short periods.
In the case of “chronic anxiety”, long-term drug therapy is used to be associated with a course of psychotherapy.
“Psychological Stress occurs when an individual perceives that the environmental demand exceeds his adaptive capacities.” S. Cohen
The term stress originally means “pressure” and was introduced into medicine by analogy from metallurgy, where it indicates the pressure that is applied to a metal to test its strength.
Stressors can be severe (such as the death of a loved one), minor (such as traffic), acute (such as an accident), or chronic (such as a competitive work environment).