Anxiety/Anxiety Disorder

We use the word anxiety very often in everyday speech. Although anxiety is sometimes used correctly, sometimes people experience confusion when using anxiety. For example, when we say a very anxious man, what kind of a man is meant? Or what does it mean to say that a carefree man has no worries about life? What does a parent who says that my child gets very low grades in exams because he/she is very anxious, means what he/she sees as anxiety in his/her child? So, if your car’s gas light came on on a long journey and you don’t know how far the first gas station you’ll come across is, what might be the feelings? A very different example, when crossing the road, suddenly startle with a loud horn and what happened? What about waking up with your phone ringing in the morning and your heart pounding like it’s going to explode? Constantly unanswered questions, vicious circles, sighs, tensions, worries, crying, these and these… about his wife, job, life etc. What to say to them?

This situation, which we have mentioned above and where we experience similar things from time to time in life, can practically be called Anxiety. It is difficult to give an exact definition of Anxiety/Anxiety, but we can define anxiety if we gather the things that make us think, feel, and briefly make us live. In this context, how does anxiety start and what happens in our body and what kind of results it has before we look at it? Is anxiety a useful emotion? I suggest you think about the answer to this question and review your answer again at the end of the article.

Let’s say you were walking alone on an empty street, what would you do if you came across a dog running towards you barking? There are two answers to this question, and I’m sure you would do one of them. You would either run away or fight the dog. We call this the Dodge-Fight response. In other words, when the person is in danger, Anxiety/Anxiety emerges as a reaction to the danger. In this case, the main purpose is to save the person from that danger by escaping or fighting.

Anxiety/Anxiety causes certain changes in the body in order to save the person. Starting from the example above, the person needs to run faster and have stronger legs to avoid the dog; In order to fight him, his arms must be stronger by throwing stones he finds near to the dog or by countering him with the help of a stick. To organize this power quickly, our brain activates the Autonomic Nervous System. The Autonomic Nervous System is divided into two. These are the Sympathetic Nervous System and the Parasympathetic Nervous System. In case of danger, the Sympathetic Nervous System is activated. First of all, it strengthens those areas by providing rapid blood flow to the arms and legs. The goal is to flee or fight. That’s why the heartbeat suddenly accelerates. The heart draws blood from the hands and directs it to the arms; It also draws blood from the feet and directs it to the legs. Due to the withdrawal of blood, numbness and coldness, which we call tingling, occurs in the hands and feet. Meanwhile, faster beating of the heart requires more oxygen, so you breathe and exhale faster.

All this is the beginning. The body has now entered an extraordinary state. Increased heartbeat, rapid breathing, headache, contractions in the stomach and neck region, pain in the stomach, feeling as if the heart is going to be dislodged, sweating and fever or vice versa, cooling and dryness in the mouth, dilated pupils and black spots or blurred vision, choking sensation and dizziness are symptoms that Anxiety creates in the body. The sympathetic nervous system also provides the secretion of two chemicals called adrenaline and noradrenaline from the adrenal glands. Thus, it receives help from these chemicals to continue the response to anxiety. Even if the danger passes, the symptoms of anxiety continue because the chemicals of adrenaline and noradrenaline cannot be removed from the body quickly. Based on the example above, even if you get rid of the dog and reach a safe place, you will see that the fear and the symptoms in your body continue. After the danger has passed, the Parasympathetic Nervous System activates and takes all the symptoms under control. From this point of view, Anxiety / Anxiety is a necessary and important emotion to protect the organism and maintain life.

So when does anxiety become unwarranted and unhealthy? The answer to this question leads us to Anxiety/Anxiety Disorder. The moment our brain senses us in danger, it activates the above mechanism to protect us. We can compare it to a fire alarm. When a fire breaks out, the alarm is activated and it tries to save that place from the fire by operating the fire extinguishing system. This is the best example embodying the mechanism in our body. However, if the fire alarm activates the fire extinguishing system incorrectly, it will damage the place even though there is no fire when the system is activated. Let’s say that if the person is worried and afraid even though he is not in danger, the Sympathetic Nervous System will come into play and harm the person, like a false alarm. Here, making a habit of incorrectly engaging the system and magnifying fears is called Anxiety/Anxiety Disorder.

Before the exam, a student who takes the exam thinking that he will get a low grade in that exam, that he will not be able to concentrate, that he will not be able to meet the time, and that he will get excited in the exam and convince himself of this, as soon as the exam starts, his brain thinks that he is in danger and activates the Sympathetic Nervous System. Unfortunately, with the activation of the system, the anxiety of the person increases and he cannot focus on the exam. For this reason, he usually gets low grades in the exams he takes, even though he knows and works. When this situation continues for a long time, the life energy decreases and Exam Anxiety manifests itself as a disorder.

A person who has a communication problem with his wife experiences a constant tension because he cannot express himself in the right ways of communication. For some people, this happens in the workplace as well. He/she has similar problems with his/her supervisor, boss or co-worker. The brain perceives these similar problems as danger and unfortunately this is also a false alarm. Whenever he starts to talk about a problem with his wife at home or with the employees at work, anxiety symptoms appear and again, when this situation is long-term, it reduces the quality of life of the person. At the same time, he cannot express himself correctly and cannot solve the problem because he cannot concentrate. This also causes outbursts of anger.

We can see thousands of similar examples in every moment of life. Anxiety is basically a useful emotion. However, it is harmful if it is used in an unnecessary, inappropriate and wrong way, and this is called Anxiety / Anxiety Disorder. A low level of anxiety is necessary to fulfill certain responsibilities and get on with life. In other words, the student should be worried about high grades and success so that they study more. Or the person will be worried about making a living so that he can get a job and work in that job. If your vehicle’s gas light is on, the anxiety you experience to find the first gas station is also normal and healthy. The anxiety experienced in these situations should be and is appropriate. To summarize, anxiety that is out of place and lowers one’s life energy is abnormal and a disorder.

So, what to do for Anxiety/Anxiety Disorder? First of all, it should be absolutely sure that the symptoms of anxiety are not dangerous. He should determine the factors that cause the bodily sensations that develop due to anxiety, and decide in a healthy way how to eliminate or improve these factors. The source of stress should either be removed from the person or object or learn to deal with it correctly. He should face situations and environments where his anxiety increases, solve problems and not run away from it. Otherwise, anxiety becomes chronic. If all these do not help, he should seek professional psychological help.

The most important aim of Psychotherapies, which is a professional psychological help, in the treatment of Anxiety / Anxiety Disorder, is to hold a mirror to the anxious person, to identify and present the wrong attitudes developed due to anxiety, to gain resistance to anxiety and the spirit of struggle, and to ensure that the person has a less anxious and more peaceful life in the rest of his life. . Do not forget that if the wind blowing on your face disturbs you and makes it difficult for you to walk, change your direction and reach your destination with a new route. Psychotherapy will offer you a new route. With this new route, although the wind continues to blow, it will no longer bother you.

I wish you less anxiety, lots of peace and healthy days.

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