Increased anxiety, its symptoms, causes and impact on the somatic and mental health of a person is a very urgent problem in modern society, both for ordinary people in connection with a number of stressful situations, and for specialists who help to cope with increased anxiety – psychiatrists, psychotherapists , psychologists.
According to the current classifications of mental illness, anxiety disorders are classified as neurotic disorders (neurosis according to the old classifications). These are such painful conditions, which include psychogenic-neurotic, neurosis-like disorders of a non-psychogenic nature, when a person is aware of the presence of painful symptoms, as well as psychotic states.
This fast-paced and problem-filled world in which we live is a very fertile ground for the emergence of increased anxiety. This is facilitated by regular overload at work, constant saturation with negative information, an accelerated pace of life and lack of rest. Such a lifestyle cannot but affect the mental and somatic health of a person.
Increased anxiety. Anxiety symptom
“Increased anxiety” – this expression can be understood as a synonym for the term anxiety symptom , that is, a symptom that can often be observed both in mental disorders and accompany somatic diseases. But it is worth remembering that anxiety is not necessarily a manifestation of a mental disorder, the same word is also used to refer to a natural psychological concept – the emotion of anxiety. And increased anxiety can be a healthy personality trait in the sense of being above the average in the population and nothing more. In other words, increased anxiety in this case can be called free-floating or free-floating .
But in this article we are talking about increased anxiety, as a painful symptom or neurotic disorder, such as, for example, GAD.
The symptom of anxiety is observed in neurotic disorders (in particular, in anxiety disorders, for example, generalized anxiety disorder – GAD), in mental illnesses of a psychotic level, and is also often present in somatic diseases. Increased anxiety can also occur as a reaction to external stressful factors for a given person, which may be quite insignificant and completely non-stressful for another. People with increased anxiety may experience a fear that something bad can happen in everyday life with them, as well as their relatives and friends.
The most common symptoms include fear of possible future failure, inability to concentrate, excessive anxiety, increased sweating, heart palpitations, headaches, and difficulty relaxing, concentrating, and processing information.
Increased anxiety affects human behavior. He begins to avoid situations that cause him anxiety or remind him of something negative. His sleep worsens, his appetite increases or decreases, motor tension increases (as an example, he often taps some kind of rhythm with his foot or hand).
People with increased anxiety are increasingly showing thoughts about possible dangers, imaginary fears, and a certain suspicion. They begin to worry about their health. Any malaise is perceived as an alarming signal of a terrible illness, and then a hypochondriacal disorder can form, and subsequently an alarming development of the personality.
Increased anxiety. Causes
Such a phenomenon as increased anxiety and its causes has come to the attention of the scientific community for a long time.
Anxiety was first described by Sigmund Freud. He considered it a function of our Ego, the main task of which is to warn of danger.
In fact, anxiety disorders are serious and fairly common diseases. The statistics presented by A. B. Kholmogorova in the journal “Social and Clinical Psychiatry” for 2014 indicate that the prevalence of anxiety among the population ranges from 3% to 30%. It is noted that among patients who go to polyclinics, anxiety of various origins is even more common and ranges from 12% to 70%. These data were presented by A. B. Smulevich in the journal “Psychosomatic Medicine” for 2007.
Taking into account such a prevalence of the problem, the study of the prerequisites for the formation of anxiety states is one of the key tasks of the modern physiology of emotions . There are many hypotheses as to why a person may experience increased anxiety. One of them suggests that increased anxiety is an acquired quality as a result of the harmful effects of the external environment. In particular, this is what T. I. Akhmedov claims in the International Medical Journal for 2005, in which he published an article “Psychological problems of anxiety”.
As already mentioned, in such rapidly changing conditions that the environment dictates to us, it is impossible to remain calm and calm. The increase in the number and intensity of stress factors leads to the fact that a person increasingly falls into anxiety states. The appearance of anxiety disorders depends on their duration and strength of influence.
At the same time, it is impossible to reduce all problems to the negative influence of the external environment. Researchers such as K. R. Sidorov, I. N. Deryabina, T. V. Emelyanova and A. V. Gribanov write that the state of anxiety can also be caused by internal factors. The results of the work of R. Epstein and H. Belmaker showed that the heritability of such a trait as anxiety is 45%. Some of them can be diagnosed as anxious personality disorders. These data tell us about the importance of studying the biological basis of anxiety. After all, it can only be an external indicator of internal processes, characteristics of the body, for example, high neuroticism , chaotic nervous processes and weakness of the nervous system. A. V. Gribanov and A. N. Nekhoroshkova write about this .
About the natural prerequisites for anxiety, its neurophysiological features and connection with the biochemical processes in the body is still not quite enough known. This is one of the most difficult areas to study. If we consider the formation of anxiety from the standpoint of a system-dynamic approach, then it arises under the influence of the actualization of repetitive anxiety reactions in response to stressful situations. A. M. Parishioners, K. R. Sidorov and S. L. Solovieva write about this.
Increased level of anxiety
An increased level of anxiety is also considered as a personality trait of a person. Indeed, in the study of anxiety, the question inevitably arises why, under equal conditions of external stressful influences, one person manifests anxiety disorders, while the other does not.
Nowadays, there are several hypotheses that explain the occurrence of anxiety by neurochemical prerequisites. One of them is serotonergic , which is based on scientific data on impaired functioning of the serotonin system in various manifestations of anxiety. E. I. Rogalev and S. A. Borinskaya in their work “Genes and Behavior” for 2000 argue that there is a positive correlation between high anxiety and an altered state of the gene that encodes the serotonin transporter protein, as well as the rate of serotonin synthesis . In individuals with a high level of depression and anxiety, an increase in the production of a transporter protein was found, and therefore serotonin, as a mediator, is absorbed by the neuron that threw it out and does not have time to bind to the receptors of the next neuron.
At the same time, S. V. Kikta and M. Yu. Drobizhev believe that the activity of serotonin neurons during anxiety symptoms can be both reduced and increased. If the level of serotonin in the amygdala is too high, then this manifests itself in the form of a panic state. If the level of this neurotransmitter is low in the neurons of the cortico – striate -thalamocortical loop, a person develops phobias and avoidance behavior.
The results of scientific research tell us that increased anxiety can be associated not only with serotonin, but also with other neurotransmitters. In the work of MB Stein et al . « Physiological and Plasma Norepinephrine Responses to Orthostasis in Patients with panic Disorder and Social Phobia , 1992, found that people diagnosed with anxiety and panic disorders have higher concentrations of noradrenaline in their blood than those who do not suffer from such pathologies. A study of people working in hazardous conditions, such as firefighters and policemen, conducted by G. M. Bodyenkova and A. V. Lazarev, showed that they also have high levels of noradrenaline in conditions of constant stress and anticipation of an alarm.
In addition to norepinephrine and serotonin, dopamine also affects anxiety . Experiments by A. V. Akhmadeeva and L. B. Kalimullina on rats showed that individuals demonstrating conformity and passivity have reduced levels of dopamine and its weaker production. The release of dopamine is known to cause pleasure and well-being. In case of insufficient synthesis of dopamine, the risk of depression and increased anxiety increases.
The considered hypotheses of the emergence of anxiety do not conflict with each other, but, on the contrary, give us a more complete understanding of this problem. The noradrenergic and serotonergic systems of the human body are interconnected. Activation of one system can lead to inhibition of another. This dynamic balance determines the emotional reactivity of the organism. Features of the influence of these systems on the emotional sphere of a person were studied by M. G. Uzbekov. The author considers disturbances in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal system to be one of the main factors in the occurrence of anxiety and depression, which leads to a decrease in the concentration of norepinephrine and serotonin along with an increase in the level of cortisol in the blood. The hormone cortisol has an important function – it activates all systems and mobilizes the functions of the body. But in conditions of constantly elevated levels of cortisol, a person should not stay for a long time. This leads to an increased risk of diabetes, obesity and increased anxiety. High concentrations of cortisol disrupt the biosynthesis of serotonin and adrenaline, which further exacerbates their deficiency. M. G. Uzbekov writes about this in the journal Social and Clinical Psychiatry in 2005.
Increased anxiety. Treatment
Knowing what anxiety is and how it manifests is certainly useful and interesting. But it is also important to understand the specifics of anxiety treatment.
It depends on the nature of its occurrence. If increased anxiety is a symptom of mental or somatic diseases, then it is necessary, of course, to prescribe not only drugs that reduce anxiety. The main treatment in such cases is the therapy of the underlying disease. In the treatment of anxiety disorders, antidepressants that act on serotonin are mainly used, as well as sedatives, including anti-anxiety drugs. In the medical treatment of anxiety disorders, in particular GAD, the duration of recommended antidepressant therapy can be up to 12 months.
It should be recalled that one of the key places in the treatment of anxiety disorders is psychotherapy. This is especially true in therapy for anxious individuals. All neurotic disorders, including anxiety disorders, are better amenable to reduction with a combination of drug treatment and psychotherapy. Very good results are shown by the use of cognitive-behavioral therapy. For example, such classic techniques as keeping a journal of emotions and thoughts. The essence of the method is that the patient every day writes down the situation that caused him a feeling of anxiety, the thoughts that he had in this situation and the emotions that accompanied him. Actions are recorded in the last column. Thus, the psychotherapist gets the opportunity to trace what thoughts caused anxiety, and how they influenced the person’s behavior.
The use of one or another technique of cognitive behavioral therapy with a patient depends on the specific case and the personality of the patient. Only a specialist with the appropriate education in the field of psychotherapy can select the necessary tools for work.
It is important to understand that there are no hopeless situations, and any disorder can be treated, especially with a competent professional approach, which will include drug treatment and the use of cognitive behavioral therapy. Therefore, if you suffer from increased anxiety, this is not a sentence, and you can return to a normal and comfortable life, full of positive emotions and impressions.