Anxiety and Self-Image

Anxiety and Self-Image

At the base of any state of generalized anxiety is the feeling of inability to self-control.

Anxiety is an exaggerated mobilization of psychic energy and is part of the fundamental emotional reactions of man, as well as depression and suffering.

So anxiety is based on a feeling of fear; fear is a natural reaction to a real danger, but anxiety is a fear of an imaginary danger. Anxiety is defined by specialists as a diffused fear, without a well-defined object.

If fear teaches you to be cautious, anxiety teaches you to be avoidant. From here comes an essential idea about the nature of anxious behaviors, namely, that they are learned, so not born. Due to this fact, anxious behaviors respond very well to short-term cognitive-behavioral therapies.

When an individual is in the face of a dangerous situation, he / she first feels fear, then has availability for three types of behavior.

  • Escape, fight or “hardening” (the rabbit with the headlights in the eyes). When the fear reaction is triggered, a chemical mediator called adrenaline (“stress hormone”) is secreted, which alerts the entire body to the dangerous situation. Thus, the individual becomes more alert than in the normal state, the beats of the heart accelerate and pump blood with greater speed and pressure, the breathing becomes more alert, the muscles tense.

So, in a situation of real danger we can speak of a “normal anxiety”.

Anxiety and Self-Image

But, as a 28-year-old patient told me, you can be “abnormally anxious” (quoted from the patient’s speech): “in the evening when I sit on the couch, on the TV with my friend and I don’t think of anything bad, out of the heart. It starts to beat hard, I feel it in my throat, my breathing becomes accelerated and I have the sensation that I am suffocating. Suddenly it takes a heat wave, I numb my hands, I dream and I only think that I have something serious and I could die “.

What actually happens in a person’s body during an anxiety attack? The heart beats faster by increasing the amount of blood and, thus, its pressure, increases the circulatory flow in the lungs at the same time as the acceleration of the breathing and the sensation of heat and perspiration. Thus, the amount of oxygen in the blood increases, creating an imbalance between O2 and CO2, physiological mechanisms such as peripheral vasoconstriction (cold hands, face whitening) appear that limit the amount of blood and O2 respectively at the extremities. Increases cerebral flow leading to a slight increase in intracranial pressure (sensation of “cloudy head”). All this accentuates the feeling of danger, creating a vicious circle from which the person has the feeling that he can not come out and die.

Neurovegetative Reactions

It can observed that the neurovegetative reactions of the body and the changes produced in the body during an anxiety attack are the same as in the case of a real danger. But inadequate at the moment and, if they become persistent and increased in intensity (panic attacks), they translate into symptoms of anxiety and can affect the optimal functioning of the individual on a personal, professional or social level.

The reasons for a state of anxiety can be multiple due to the complexity of the individuals. It can be anxiety related to the disease state. Anxiety related to the fear of death etc. The characteristics of the current society in which the state of uncertainty and uncertainty regarding the future predominates. In fact, this fear of not facing the difficulties of life, though generated by the social context, hides a distrust of one’s own strengths, a bad self-image.

Anxiety States

Thus, a brief psychotherapy of anxiety states, besides the initial first aid interventions – 1. Respiratory control exercises and 2. Progressive muscle relaxation – focuses on the intervention on the deeper causes of anxiety, namely self-image. So, after the initial intervention – in crisis, psychotherapy aims to rehabilitate the self image.

What should  kept in mind : that these anxious behaviors learned. So that they can successfully addressed through cognitive-behavioral interventions and may disappear. Within a few months from the beginning of the intervention. The anxious person will learn how to manage their fear state by appropriately attributing it to each “obstacle” starting from an improved self-image with the help of well-defined, but realistic therapeutic techniques.

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