Anxiety is a normal response of the body and occurs several times during our activities. However, when it becomes frequent and exaggerated, impairing the performance of simple tasks and causing suffering to the person, it is possible that there is an anxiety disorder.
Know what it is and when treatment is needed:
What is anxiety?
Anxiety is the expectation of a future threat characterized by the feeling of discomfort, together with excessive worry and also fear.
It can be mild or severe and is very difficult to control, as it reaches a high degree of intensity in a few minutes. In addition, it can last a long time and is usually accompanied by physical symptoms.
Everyone, whether they are children or adults, has already felt anxious at some point in life. This is normal, however, for some people, this feeling is more frequent and intense, impairing their daily activities.
The feeling of anxiety can have such a negative impact on the life of those who have it, that the person ends up failing to do simple everyday things, just to prevent the discomfort he feels.
What types of anxiety?
People with agoraphobia are afraid of certain places or situations that may make them feel trapped or that they cannot be rescued in an emergency, with very striking and embarrassing symptoms of panic.
These feelings lead to panic attacks and, therefore, the patient tends to avoid certain places that he feels uncomfortable.
Generalized anxiety disorder
People who suffer from generalized anxiety are constantly concerned, even with routine activities or that are considered “normal”, causing this to even reflect on physical symptoms, such as headache , stomach pain and sleep disturbances.
It is characterized by the occurrence of sudden and repeated crises of anxiety, fear or terror in a matter of minutes, accompanied by physical symptoms, such as shortness of breath, chest pain and rapid or irregular heartbeat.
People who suffer from this type of anxiety can avoid situations where the attacks have already occurred in order to feel better.
Selective mutism is more present in children and can be characterized as the inability to speak in specific places and situations, even when one is able, such as at school, at home and in other common situations. This type of crisis ends up interfering in personal and social life.
This type of anxiety is characterized by a severe fear of something. When it manifests, a strong desire to avoid it arises. Some examples of specific phobias are: fear of spiders (arachnophobia), fear of closed places (claustrophobia) or fear of clowns (coulrophobia).
Separation Anxiety Disorder
About 4% of children experience separation anxiety disorder, which is marked by the separation from their parents or guardians. Although the highest prevalence is in childhood, during adolescence and adulthood, cases also occur, affecting approximately 1.6% of young people and up to 1.9% of adults.
A clear example of this separation is the first day at school or when parents return to work and spend long periods away from their children. Although the process is a normal part of child development , it takes about 18 months for affected children to overcome it.
Read more: Tripophobia: what it is, symptoms and causes
It is not yet known what the real causes of anxiety are. However, it can be understood among the experiences lived by the person and that turn out to be traumatic, in addition to hereditary characteristics or, even, a side effect of some medication that is taken daily.
However, for some people, anxiety can be linked to factors of health problems and can be the first sign of a physical illness, such as:
- Heart diseases;
- Abstinence from drugs (alcohol and / or other drugs), or even abuse of them;
- Respiratory diseases;
- Rare tumors that cause changes in hormones.
The people who are most susceptible to suffering from some type of anxiety are:
- People with family members who are anxious;
- People who have suffered some type of abuse during their lifetime, be it emotional or physical;
- People who have undergone intense shocks such as robberies, accidents, natural disasters, etc .;
- People with psychological illnesses such as depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc .;
- People suffering from cardiovascular diseases or with a fragile respiratory system;
- People who abuse stimulant substances, such as medications, energy drinks, teas, caffeine, etc.
Symptoms can vary greatly from person to person, however, when one goes into alertness, caused by anxiety, the body reacts in a very specific way to anxiety.
Some symptoms, although not manifested on the skin, are felt psychologically, such as:
- Irrational fear;
- Feeling nervous, agitated or that something bad is going to happen;
- Desire to avoid things that cause anxiety;
- Obsessions about certain ideas.
Although most of the symptoms of anxiety are psychological, it is possible to present some minimal physical symptoms, which may go unnoticed, they are:
- Biting nails;
- Increased heart rate or chest pain;
- Rapid breathing or hyperventilation;
- Intense and cold sweating;
- Muscle spasms;
- Difficulty concentrating;
- Digestive or gastrointestinal problems (diarrhea, constipation);
Anxiety can be difficult to diagnose and, in some cases, it can even be difficult to differentiate it from other psychological disorders, such as depression .
Therefore, always look for a psychiatrist, or a therapist, if you feel that anxiety is disturbing your daily routine and causing you suffering. The specialist will seek, first of all, to understand the origin of the crises.
Some diagnostic criteria are:
- Excessive concern during most days, for a period of at least six months in relation to any activity / event;
- Concern difficult to control and quite comprehensive;
- Present at least three of the symptoms already reported;
- Symptoms that cause suffering or impairment in important areas (social, professional).
Anxiety has no cure , but with appropriate treatment and medication, it is possible to get control of the symptoms and live well with the condition.
Treatment for anxiety, nervousness and other related symptoms can be done in two ways:
- Therapy with a specialized professional.
- Use of medicines, which can be divided into four categories: natural, benzodiazepines, antidepressants and antipsychotics.
It may also be that the professional who attends to you decides to medicate you and, still, continue with psychotherapy, in order to obtain better results.
Therapy is an important resource in improving the patient with anxiety. The type should always be indicated by the mental health professional , who takes into account the aspects of each patient.
In this sense, it is worth mentioning that each therapy works with different resources, and there is also greater effectiveness (evidence of improvement) in certain types.
This approach encourages the patient to express himself without censorship and make free associations between thoughts, fantasies, emotions and dreams. The analyst plays the role of an attentive listener and, from time to time, interrupts the patient to reflect on the meanings that may be hidden in his speeches, as a way to unveil the unconscious.
While psychoanalysis is more retrospective, the Jungian seeks to work in a more prospective way, envisioning the future. In this type of therapy, the patient will seek to overcome his conflicts and, to access his unconscious, the therapist uses the patient’s dreams. He also uses the so-called “collective unconscious”, which are images, thoughts and experiences common to all, which interfere with emotional health.
The method used is the association-free tactic, to make the patient reflect on his problems, however, there are greater interruptions by the therapist. The analyst can break the continuity of the session at the moment he deems important, even if it is sudden, and ask the patient to think about what he said.
In this method, in addition to analyzing what the patient thinks and does, the therapy also assesses the role of the central nervous system in problems that are, apparently, only psychological.
In this method, therapists work with the idea that repressed feelings, such as fear, anguish, anger or others, are reflected in the body in the form of physical problems.
This method is based on the perception that stimuli from the environment can shape our behavior. Therefore, the therapist proposes behavioral strategies that can generate changes in the patient’s life.
In this method, it is believed that the way people interpret their experiences determines how they feel and behave. It uses strategies to correct distortions of thoughts, such as having a very negative view of yourself.
The approach is the one that currently has the most scientific evidence for the treatment of anxiety.
Patients are analyzed in relation to the environment in which they live, friends, family, work and their attitudes in this environment. The therapist listens to the client, but pays attention to gestures, postures, tone of voice and facial expressions.
This method is widely used in groups of people and is carried out based on a theme to be worked on in which the participants enact their problems. Soon after, the group discusses and evaluates how each one felt. It is believed that by expressing emotions, it is easier to see them.
Group dynamics can follow some approaches, such as that of psychodrama or that of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), so there is no single method of working.
It is used to treat a group of people with a common problem, for example, social anxiety. Despite having a better cost benefit, it is necessary to be motivated for a progression.
EMDR, in English, means Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing .
EMDR aims to work on memories and traumatic records, as a way of relieving the associated feelings, improving the patient’s life and well-being.
The approach shows excellent results in the treatment of post-traumatic disorders and, more recently, has shown significant advances for patients with anxiety, phobias, chemical dependence and depression, for example.
In summary, the patient starts the session by focusing on an event or memory that afflicts him.
Along with the application of stimuli and simulation of eye movements and specific bilateral stimuli (from the cerebral hemispheres), EMDR helps the brain to process these memories or events, through Adaptive Information Processing. That is, the patient situates the events and assimilates more positive feelings to them
The idea of this simulation is that the brain can reconstruct the paths of bad memories and traumatic events that are processed and overcome.
In general, behavioral therapies work from the patient’s responses or behaviors to stimuli in the environment and situations they experience. The approach considers that the behaviors are actions or responses learned (or conditioned), causing them to be reorganized, reformulated and adequate in order to cause less suffering to the patient. Among the techniques of the approach are:
Functional behavior analysis
The professional seeks the succession of occurrences, in which the stimuli and behavior trigger the consequences.
The patient is gradually exposed to the means of the acts that afflict him, followed by relaxation techniques and emotional processing. As well as a progressive adaptation, the feelings associated, for example, with spiders (arachnophobia) are being minimized.
Also called the third generation of Behavioral Therapy, contextual therapies pay attention to the context in which the person is inserted and the role of the patient’s behavior.
Among the approaches, the following stand out:
Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT)
It uses resources that work with the criticism and functional analysis of the patient’s actions and responses. Positive concepts and feelings are encouraged, privileging his association over negative ones. In other words, there is a substitution of bad behaviors and feelings for good ones.
The therapeutic strategy consists of 3 premises: full acceptance of the current moment, absolute attention and non-judgmental action. It is basically a way to focus attention, consciously and fully, on the actions and experiences present.
The resource can make other therapies contextual, as its basis is to work the facts of life in a less harmful way to the patient’s emotional.
The drugs commonly used to treat anxiety are:
- Alprazolam : Frontal , Apraz ;
- Buspirone : Ansitec ;
- Bromazepam : Lexotan ;
- Clonazepam : Rivotril ;
- Cloxazolam : Olcadil ;
- Diazepam : Valium ;
- Fluoxetine : Prozac ;
- Hydroxyzine : Hixizine
- Lorazepam : Lorax
- Mirtazapine : Menelat ;
- Paroxetine : Pondera ;
- Risperidone : Riss ;
- Sertraline : Zoloft , Assert ;
- Trazodona : Donaren
- Venlafaxine : Alenthus XR , Efexor XR .
NEVER self-medicate or stop using a medication without first consulting a doctor. Only he will be able to tell which medication, dosage and duration of treatment is the most suitable for his specific case. The information contained on this site is only intended to inform, not in any way intended to replace the guidance of a specialist or serve as a recommendation for any type of treatment. Always follow the instructions on the package insert and, if symptoms persist, seek medical or pharmaceutical advice.
There are also some natural resources that can assist in controlling anxiety or promoting well-being to the patient. However, it is always important to emphasize that they must be used in a complementary way, never replacing treatment or medical monitoring. Like for example:
- Passion fruit leaf tea : has calming and anxiolytic properties;
- Chamomile tea : has a soothing action;
- Lettuce : helps to relax the muscles and the nervous system;
- Passiflora, Kava-Kava, Valerian, Hops : they are able to act on the nervous system as natural tranquilizers and light sedatives.
Taking a hot bath and receiving a relaxing massage can also help with soothing action during crises!
In addition to the conventional method of treatment, it is possible to perform small daily tasks that can help to cope with anxiety more easily:
Learn about your problem
Try to research and learn as much as you can about your condition, in addition to knowing and what treatments are available so that you can make decisions on which path to take.
Follow your therapist’s directions
Always follow the care and guidance of your psychologist or psychiatrist and take your medication regularly. This will help to keep anxiety controlled.
Find out what triggers your anxiety and practice coping activities so you can better deal with crises when they happen.
Write down your feelings
Keep a diary of your feelings and experiences. This can help you remember what happened during the week so that you can talk better with your analyst about what can trigger anxiety attacks.
Most people with psychological problems tend to isolate themselves from social life. Do the opposite: go out with friends, family, get support from the people you care about. By doing this, it can be easier to deal with problems.
Take care of your time
Managing your time intelligently can make you spend less idle time, lessening excessive worries and, consequently, anxiety attacks.
Shake things up
Don’t let anxiety take control of your life. If you feel overwhelmed, break your routine by taking a walk or talking to someone close, as this will direct your mind elsewhere and keep your worries away.
Practice physical activity
The creation of an exercise routine to be followed, at least three times a week, can help to reduce anxiety and stress from day to day.
Avoid the use of alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs
These products end up increasing the feeling of anxiety, so choose not to consume them.
Consume less caffeine
Caffeine is responsible for keeping people on the alert, connected, and this can end up worsening the symptoms of anxiety.
Get enough sleep
The lack of a good night’s sleep can increase feelings of restlessness and anxiety, so try to sleep at least 8 hours a day.
Have a healthy diet
Eat fruits and vegetables regularly, stay hydrated and try to eat lean proteins – present in chicken and fish.
Look for relaxation and stress management techniques
Look for yoga classes, meditation, have a daily mantra with yourself. Little things can promote relaxation and reduce the feeling of anxiety.
Smartphones are increasingly present in people’s lives. Many activities that were necessary to commute today can easily be performed by applications downloaded on the cell phone.
Knowing this, why not use them to help control anxiety? Next, we bring you 4 apps that can help you!
This app helps you understand what makes you most anxious and what helps you to improve. It is also possible to create daily goals, write a diary of thoughts and try relaxation techniques to improve your overall health.
It’s free and available for iOS, Android and the Web.
This application has as its central idea the way anxiety is seen. It does not help to prevent it, but to deal with crises and keep them under control through exercises, even for breathing, as a way to calm down.
It is available for iOS and Android and is free.
The application aims to make meditation practice more accessible, with 10 short guided meditations and a page where you can measure your progress. In addition, it offers reminders to help you stay on track and calm.
It is available for iOS and Android and has no cost.
This application allows you to write down your current concerns and review them later, so that you can analyze whether the result was so bad compared to the concern it generated.
The next time you feel an anxiety attack approaching, the app will generate a report, as a reminder that the actual result has rarely been as bad as the concern.
It is available for Android and iOS and costs R $ 1.99.
Although anxiety has no cure, it is possible to prevent its onset. Try to exercise daily, do not consume food and drinks with excess caffeine and set aside a period of the day to relax and breathe deeply. Also, avoid worrying excessively and ahead of time.