What is Anxiety?

By | 15 April 2021

It is used to mean anxiety, inner distress, anxiety, and worry. It is an emotion that is accompanied by more fear that everyone experiences. İt becomes “abnormal” if it reaches a point that negatively affects the work, private and social life of the person and if the daily functionality is impaired. It turns into an anxiety disorder. Definitions that can describe anxiety disorder are “anxiety” and “delusion”.

In this context, it is important to make sense of it.

Heart rate (tachycardia) and breathing are rapid and frequent when anxious. Blood pressure rises, muscle tension increases. There may be dizziness, sweating, dry mouth, ringing, or throbbing in the ears. All these changes are indications that the “fight or flight” principle that the body displays in the face of immediate danger is in effect. In this sense, it can be said that anxiety is a natural reaction that the system activates as a result of perceived danger.

If a person perceives any situation or feeling as “dangerous”, the “fight or flight” principle comes into play. The principle in question is a complex structure in which bodily, cognitive, and behavioral changes exist, and this structure, by its very nature, ensures that human beings are protected from basic and truly dangerous environmental factors. If the “fight or flight” principle works with the perception of danger even without concrete danger, we can talk about anxiety.

What is Anxiety Disorder?

As far as anxiety is concerned, the danger is more intellectual than real. Reaction to “anxiety” arousing factor is discretionary. “Fight or flight” ceases to serve an appropriate purpose. It creates various vicious circles, causing the troubles experienced to exacerbate and continue. There are two main types of vicious circles in “anxiety disorders”.

Vicious circle; The physical and mental symptoms of anxiety increase the perception of threat and danger. For example, the heart palpitations of a person with panic disorder at the time of a panic attack are interpreted as evidence of a heart attack. The “anxiety” will increase and the heart palpitations will become even more noticeable. The increase in palpitations will increase the thought that the person has a heart attack.

The vicious circle, on the other hand, is caused by useless strategies that anxiety patients use to prevent the “catastrophic” consequences of the situations they think they will experience. Because “disaster” is unrealistic, the strategies used to eliminate the chance of seeing that the patient’s thoughts and beliefs are not appropriate. For example, a patient with heart palpitations and intense distress leaves the environment during a panic attack or tries to draw his attention to another subject by talking to the person next to him; it causes the same patient to think that by using these strategies later, he is saved from going crazy or dying. In this way, he is prevented from seeing that he will not die or go crazy even if he does not use such avoidance strategies. These two vicious circles summarize the functioning and persistence of anxiety disorders.

Being cautious or trying to stay away?

In anxiety disorders, that is, people who respond with a “fight or flight” response in a certain situation, event, person, or environment in the “anxiety/delusion” situation perceive these stimuli as more dangerous than they actually are. Just as a person with panic disorder perceives his / her heart palpitations (tachycardia) as “I am/am about to have a heart attack” during a panic attack.

They perceive the possibility of feared or prevented negative consequences as more “exaggerated, great and terrifying” than they actually are. Just like people with obsessive-compulsive (obsessive-compulsive) disorder believing that if they do not keep their hands clean, they will get dirty and spread this dirt everywhere they touch.

And when the feared outcome occurs, they think it will be a disaster. Just as social phobia sufferers believe that shaking hands or reddening of their faces will be noticed and as a result, they will be embarrassed and will not be wanted or accepted by the people in the environment.

Cognitive or unconscious mental and behavioral dysfunctional strategies (avoiding, avoiding, distracting attention, trying not to think, carrying medicines with him, not going alone to places perceived as dangerous, leaving the environment or leaving the environment at any time, to prevent the feared result from occurring) such as sitting close to the exit). The purpose of these strategies is to provide security in feared environments and thus prevent the feared result from occurring. The realization of the feared results is attributed to the use of the strategies mentioned by the patient and these behaviors aimed at providing security prevent the patient from seeing the feared result will not be realized and cause the fear to continue unchanged. Just as a patient who has had a panic attack and sees that he is not dying / mad, he attributes the lack of the feared result to the presence of someone he trusts during the panic attack or to the drug he drinks at that time. Even if he does not take medication, he loses the chance to see that he will not die/go crazy even if he does not have someone he trusts, and his dysfunctional thoughts and beliefs (such as “panic attack is dangerous and may result in death”) continue unchanged.

“Something bad will definitely happen. Because…”

The physical symptoms of anxiety are perceived as another evidence that the perception of danger/threat is real. That is, the thought that “if I am experiencing these physical symptoms, there is a reason, there may be a danger at any moment” increases the physical symptoms. As the physical symptoms increase, the perception of danger-threat (anxiety) increases, and thus a vicious circle occurs and the anxiety continues.

Threat and danger perception are present in all anxiety disorders. While phobic patients perceive danger to a particular situation, object, or function, panic patients perceive bodily sensations as dangerous. While hypochondriac (health anxious) patients are concerned about the development of a serious illness, obsessive-compulsive patients are afraid of causing harm, as social phobias will create negative social judgments in social settings. Patients with generalized anxiety disorders, on the other hand, have a perception of threat from uncertainty.