Generalized Anxiety: What We Did not Know About This Disease

Anxiety is currently the main mental health problem

A third of the population would be affected. However, a large number of these people are not treated. This is explained by the fact that anxiety is a subjective phenomenon, complex and difficult to define.

Therefore, it is necessary to distinguish between normal anxiety, pathological anxiety or knowing the nuance between anxiety, fear, phobias and stress.

Some scientists believe that anxiety is a conditioned reflex.

According to psychoanalytic theory, anxiety is the manifestation of an unconscious conflict, a disease or a fear of a disturbing psychological event that occurred during childhood.

In some people, the way they have learned to cope with the events of life can cause a predisposition to anxiety.

It is still important to keep in mind that mild anxiety is useful because it helps to adapt and encourages the individual to find solutions; which is a source of action and change.

Generalized anxiety

When anxiety becomes an extreme pathology, it alters or paralyzes the functioning of the person, and, in most areas of existence.

A person suffering from severe anxiety suffers considerable difficulties both at work and in family, sexual or social life.

Fear and phobias

Fear, in turn, is an emotion similar to anxiety, but it is usually seen in response to a real or fictitious threat.

Therefore, it is normal to be afraid in the forest when facing a bear. But if one is worried a few months in advance because of a routine medical examination, we are anxious.

If fear becomes an extreme situation in which something is imagined as dangerous and you tend to avoid that situation, it is called a phobia.

In phobia, the danger is not real. There are many types of phobias: phobia of animals, confined places, darkness, heights, etc.

Stress and Generalized Anxiety

Stress is a physiological and psychological response to an often unexpected situation in life.

For example; important financial difficulties, divorce, dismissal; They are undoubtedly stress factors that can generate a certain level of anxiety.

Anxiety is an emotion considered normal when it comes to a response to stress.

It becomes pathological when prolonged exposure to stress creates a diffuse fear that is related to the anticipation of a negative event or an unknown imminent danger that could happen, which generates suffering and functional disability.

symptom

Anxiety and worry are associated with three (or more) of the following symptoms:

  • Agitation,
  • Fatigability,
  • Difficulty concentrating or memory loss,
  • Irritability,
  • Muscle tension,
  • Sleep disorders,
  • The resulting anxiety, worry and physical symptoms cause discomfort or significant deterioration in social, occupational, or other areas.

Causes

Anxiety does not have a unique cause. Rather, it is caused by the combination and quantity of physical (biological), psychological and environmental factors (stress).

Biological factors are a form of hereditary predisposition. While psychological factors are inefficient or ineffective defense mechanisms.

And finally some stress agent that is in the environment.

Pathological anxiety can be generated by three types of diseases:

Physical illness, such as hyperthyroidism. In this case, anxiety is called “secondary” and disappears after healing.

Mental illness (other than anxiety disorders): depression, psychosis and bipolar disorder is often characterized by marked anxiety.

In these cases, controlled mental disorder can significantly reduce it.

The whole range of anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety, panic attacks, phobias and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

In the presence of these disorders, anxiety is a phenomenon called “main”, that is, predominant.

Scientists are studying the importance of brain inheritance and biochemistry in the genesis and production of anxiety disorders.

It seems increasingly clear that biochemical imbalances would be responsible for the occurrence of these diseases.

Who is affected?

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) affects between 5 and 10% of the population. Women are twice as likely to be affected as men.

From 50 to 90% of people with generalized anxiety disorder also suffer from another mental illness. Panic disorder, depression, and drug or alcohol abuse are frequently associated with GAD.

Prevention and care

-A healthy lifestyle can greatly reduce anxiety so that it returns to a tolerable level. Among the elements of a healthy lifestyle we have:

-A good balance between work, rest and recreation;

-A low intake of caffeine, alcohol and nicotine;

-A good diet;

-And, above all, exercise regularly.

When anxiety is related to individual factors of a biological and psychological nature, prevention is much more problematic.

It goes without saying that a healthy lifestyle can only promote the recovery of the person, but in the presence of pathological anxiety, should resort to medical treatment that suits each case in particular.

Treatments

Psychotherapy

Several studies have demonstrated the efficacy of cognitive behavior therapy in the treatment of anxiety disorders.

The therapy offers the person to observe and analyze the behaviors and thoughts of anxiety, learn new behaviors and replace unwanted thoughts and emotions with more appropriate ones.

Cognitive behavioral therapy is effective both individually and in groups.

Studies confirm that psychotherapeutic approaches are more effective in the long term than pharmacotherapy (medications) against anxiety disorders.

Pharmacotherapy

Antidepressants are effective against depressive symptoms and to treat anxiety with rumination when the person has a limited response to psychotherapy.

Anxiolytics such as benzodiazepines, mainly relieve somatic symptoms. Due to the problems of dependence and withdrawal syndrome, they are recommended to be used only in the short term.

Antipsychotic drugs can be prescribed when the person does not respond to other pharmacological treatments.

Complementary approaches

Relaxation techniques

Breathing exercises act quickly on anxiety and decrease the level of stress in general after a regular practice of a few weeks.

These are the basic relaxation techniques. The key is a usual practice: the ideal is twice a day. After some time, the degree of anxiety decreases and the energy level increases.

Relaxation techniques are many and have been shown to help reduce stress and anxiety in general.

Meditation causes the person to focus their mind on a word, a sound, a symbol, an image or on their own breathing.

The goal is to produce a deep state of relaxation and tranquility while stimulating the mind and spirit. Several types of meditation help reduce stress.

Self-help and support groups.

To break the isolation of people, these groups allow them to exchange, share experiences and receive information and support