When we talk about mental illnesses , it is common for there to be some confusion: it is not the same to spend a sad, down, or discouraged season than to suffer from depression ; it is not the same to have sporadic mood swings than to suffer a bipolar disorder; It is not the same to eat one more day than is convenient to suffer an eating disorder .
The same goes for anxiety . Feeling nervous and anxious from time to time is normal. It can happen before an exam, if we have an important assignment at work or personal problems that concern us especially. That is not the same as suffering from an anxiety disorder .
People affected by this problem may feel unable to lead a normal life due to feelings of anguish and stress that produce situations that for others are completely normal and manageable. Although it is a disease that causes suffering to those who suffer, usually with therapy and if necessary with the help of some medications, these people can get lead a normal life and regain control of their emotions .
What is anxiety and its different types
Anxiety is a mental illness that causes the sufferer an irrational fear of everyday situations that do not objectively have anything threatening . In an anxiety disorder, if you do not remedy it, those fears do not disappear but usually increase with time , affecting your ability to lead a normal life.
There are different types of anxiety. Some characteristics are common to all of them while others are specific to some specific one.
1. Panic disorder. Attacks of terror that appear suddenly and can cause sweating, palpitations and pain in the chest, making you think that you are about to suffer a heart attack.
2. Social anxiety disorder. Also called social phobia, it is an exacerbated worry and nervousness caused by everyday social situations, for fear of being judged by others, being ridiculed or embarrassed.
3. Specific phobias. Irrational fear of concrete things, such as heights, closed spaces, some animals …
4. Generalized anxiety disorder. Feelings of terror caused by nonexistent or unrealistic reasons.
How can you tell if you suffer anxiety
The difference between anxiety, say, normal and pathological is not always easy to distinguish. If it is something subjective, what is considered normal? Here are some symptoms that can help you determine if you suffer from an anxiety disorder and you would like to ask for help.
1. Excessive concern
It is the main symptom of anxiety: excessive fear and worry. But what is excessive?
In this case, it is considered an excessive worry if you have distressing thoughts most days of the week for more than six months . In addition, they are thoughts that interfere in some way with your usual day to day and that can cause other problems, such as stress or fatigue.
The key is whether that concern is causing you suffering and problems leading a normal life.
2. Problems sleeping
Having problems falling asleep or falling asleep is a sometimes unimportant problem, when it occurs only occasionally, for example before an important event.
But if it often happens that you can not sleep because you feel nervous about a particular problem or about anything in particular, and you spend the night tossing and turning in bed and at your head, it may be a sign that you are suffering from anxiety. Also if nothing else wake up you are already anguished, with the head to thousand per hour and you are incapable to stop.
3. Irrational fears
If you feel a disproportionate fear of a daily situation , like taking the elevator, or sporadic, like hitting a snake, you may suffer from a phobia , which is a type of anxiety. With disproportionate we refer to a paralyzing fear, that you are unable to overcome and that is not up to the risk that that situation implies, in principle much smaller.
Many phobias are not evident, either because they appear suddenly where there was no fear before or because they are related to unusual situations that the person who has them has not been found in decades.
4. Muscular tension
Often anxiety disorders are accompanied by muscular tics such as clenching fists or jaws , so internalized that the person suffering from it may not realize that he is doing it.
Exercising is a good way to vent that tension and keep the muscles under control. Some people with anxiety need to use dental protectors at night, because once they are asleep they re-tighten their jaws without realizing it.
5. Frequent indigestion
Although anxiety is a mental illness, it often manifests itself in physical symptoms throughout the body . One of the most common are digestive problems : malaise, nausea, gas, constipation or diarrhea are some common symptoms that may be related to anxiety.
Often both problems are fed back : the digestive discomfort produces anxiety and the more anxiety, the greater the digestive problems.
6. Scenic fear
Most of us are nervous about talking in public. But if in your case the nervousness occupies your head several hours a day for weeks before your intervention and it does so in a way that makes you suffer and prevents you from carrying out your normal life (it does not let you concentrate, it takes away your hunger and the dream …), maybe you suffer from a social anxiety disorder.
Fear does not take place only before the event, also afterwards : people who suffer from it can spend days and weeks pondering how they did it and how others judged them.
A social anxiety disorder is not manifested only when the affected person must speak in public: often any social interaction , such as talking to an unknown person at a party, becomes a source of anxiety due to insecurity.
This anxiety can be transformed into tremors, nausea, flushing of the face or sweating . This can make it difficult or impossible to maintain normal social relationships, meet new people or progress both in the academic stage and in the workplace.
8. Panic attacks
In a panic attack the patient experiences a sudden feeling of terror accompanied by physical symptoms such as chest pain, palpitations, sweating , blurred vision …
Not everyone who suffers from panic attacks suffers anxiety, but if panic attacks recur, that person may have a panic disorder . Those affected often live in a state of anxiety, fearing the next panic attack and avoiding those places where they have previously suffered from panic attacks.
9. Anxious flashbacks
Remembering and reliving traumatic events is one of the symptoms of post-traumatic shock syndrome (PTSD), which until recently was considered a type of anxiety rather than a pathology in itself.
In the case of people who suffer from anxiety, they are often not memories of traumatic experiences , or at least not obviously traumatic, but of moments that were especially distressing, such as having been ridiculed or having been very afraid.
10. Exacerbated perfectionism
The obsessive attention to detail is one of the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, but something similar to people suffering from anxiety disorders can occur: if you spend a lot of time worried about not making mistakes, or mistakes in the past , or because of how you could do better something that is already done, maybe it is a problem of anxiety.
11. Question yourself continuously
Self-criticism and self-exploration are very healthy, but when they become an echo machacón inside your head that continuously questions everything you do , it can be a symptom of an anxiety disorder.
People who suffer from it ask themselves difficult things to answer, such as: “Do I love my partner as much as my partner loves me?” and suffer with the uncertainty of not being able to give a complete answer.
Causes of anxiety
As with many other mental illnesses , it is not clear what causes anxiety, but it seems to be a combination of factors ranging from brain biochemistry to changes in the environment through genetic factors. Sometimes anxiety disorder occurs in several generations of the same family.
Tips to manage anxiety
Treatment for anxiety includes going to therapy and some medications that are prescribed by prescription and should not be taken without medical supervision, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics and anxiolytics.
But there are some changes in lifestyle that can help keep anxiety under control.
1. Reduce caffeine
Try to reduce your daily caffeine intake by drinking less coffee, tea, chocolate, soft drinks and energy drinks. Caffeine stimulates the nervous system and can accentuate the symptoms of anxiety.
2. Eat well and exercise
By exercising , your brain releases substances that help reduce the feeling of stress and improve your overall mood.
3. Sleep and rest
Anxiety takes its toll among other things due to exhaustion. Create a routine that helps you rest and if you have trouble sleeping ask your doctor.
4. Always consult your doctor
Before starting any medicine or herbal product, always consult a specialist, because some of them may have components that worsen the symptoms of anxiety .