Anxiety, causes, symptoms and treatment

Egbert Haynes

Anxiety is our body's natural response to stress. It is a feeling of fear or apprehension about what is to come. Going to a job interview, giving a talk in front of a large audience, going to the first day of school or work, for example, can make us feel fearful and nervous.

But when our feelings of anxiety are extreme, even debilitating, last more than six months, and interfere with our normal lives, then we are likely to have an anxiety disorder..

This type of exacerbated and paralyzing anxiety can cause us to stop doing things we like as well as everyday tasks of the day. In extreme cases, it can prevent us from getting into an elevator, crossing the street, or even leaving the house. Also, if left untreated, anxiety tends to keep getting worse..

Anxiety disorders are the most common form of emotional disorder and can affect anyone at any age. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.


  • Characteristics of anxiety disorder
  • Causes of anxiety
  • Symptoms of anxiety
  • Treating anxiety
    • Coping with state anxiety. Identification, description and management of the cause.
    • References

Characteristics of anxiety disorder

Anxiety disorder is characterized by intense emotional, physical, and behavioral symptoms that create an unpleasant sensation that is generally described as restlessness, fear, or worry..

These symptoms can be severe enough to constitute an anxiety attack (also known as a panic attack). Anxiety attacks can happen unexpectedly and create great fear that they will happen again. Therefore, people suffering from anxiety disorders often withdraw and seek to avoid people or certain places..

Causes of anxiety

Anxiety disorders are usually seen as something negative, such as a mental illness, but unlike other psychopathologies, we can consider it as a symptomatology that indicates a disorder in life or in other words, if a person has anxiety it is because something in their life is not going well.

The causes of anxiety can be multiple and even a combination of them.

I have known people with anxiety attacks for various reasons, some for non-elaborate traumas, others for various causes, such as a woman for working too much since she had obtained two contracts of which she felt very proud but at the same time she had the feeling of abandoning to his family (the cause in this case would be very simplified but this aspect would be the core of it).

Often the person who suffers from crises may think that everything is going well in his life, that there is no factor that creates excessive stress. Thus we are faced with an unconscious cause, difficult to identify and therefore difficult to address. (Sometimes, in these cases, it is hypothesized that the cause is a chemical disorder itself, but in my opinion, if "our inner chemistry" is not going well, it is because of what happens to us in our daily lives).

Symptoms of anxiety

Anxiety and fear can manifest in many ways. The most common symptoms are:

  • Muscle tension or irritability
  • Nausea, dizziness, or dizziness
  • Need to avoid some places or people
  • Cold or sticky hands or feet
  • Hot flashes, chills, or shaking
  • Excessive shame
  • Ongoing doubts or concerns
  • Fear of having a heart attack or something serious
  • Headaches
  • Muscle pain and tension
  • Sleep disorders
  • Tightness throughout the body, especially the head, neck, jaw, and face.
  • Chest pain
  • Ringing or throbbing in the ears.
  • Excessive sweating
  • Shaking and shaking
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • Accelerated heart rate
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Depersonalization and derealization
  • Upset stomach or nausea
  • Short of breath

Some people with anxiety problems may experience panic attacks (or sudden and very high anxiety) when they are with certain people or animals. It is also possible to suffer anxiety attacks in situations such as flying in an airplane, going up to a high floor or entering a very confined space. Other people have these seizures unexpectedly and with nothing to provoke them, apparently.

Treating anxiety

Treatment of anxiety can be done at two levels:

Coping with state anxiety. Identification, description and management of the cause.

The first block would include all those strategies that can help the patient to alleviate and prevent the anguish from increasing at the time of crisis. Anguish is a matter of level, sometimes one will feel a slight anxiety and it can increase until reaching a crisis where the subject may tremble, have tachycardias, feel paralyzed, and ultimately have a terrifying bad time.

There are, therefore, strategies for relaxation, for eliminating stress produced by the environment in the short term, and ultimately, ways to face the crisis (first of all, one must know that nothing will happen to them).

It is important to try to use reason in the early stages of anguish, as it is also important not to be tired and to have slept well..

I also emphasize that you have to face it. You cannot stay at home. Most likely, the person who has suffered a panic attack is then afraid of being in the place where it happened or in a similar situation, but in order not to get worse with phobias and depressions (although at some point it will be difficult not to be depressed) you have to overcome fear and face it.

A drug treatment alone can make the symptom disappear, but not the cause, so when the medication is discontinued, relapse is likely unless the causative factor has been eliminated by itself while taking the medication..

So we see that it is usually necessary to identify the cause, a task that can take months, to be able to address it later..

You have to get treatment in the hands of experts. There are several and effective treatments, some people will work better one and others another..

Cognitive-behavioral treatment with possible pharmacological help is the most common treatment today. I open the door to psychoanalytic treatment (integrating if the use of anxiolytics or the drug that the doctor deems appropriate to improve the quality of life of the patient is considered convenient).

It is, among other things, a psychotherapeutic technique to help individuals improve their mental health, reducing their suffering and increasing their ability to enjoy, promoting dialogue taking into account not only anxiety and its reasons, but also helping the patient to understand and develop, as Freud said, their capacities to love and work creatively.

Introductory video on what anxiety is:


  • American Psychiatric Association. (2000). Diagnostic criteria from DSM-IV-TR. Washington, D.C .: American Psychiatric Association.
  • Amorim, C. (1997). Adaptation of the Inventory of Anxiety Situations and Responses (ISRA) to the Brazilian population. Madrid: Complutense University of Madrid (doctoral thesis)
  • Barlow, D. H. (2002). Anxiety and its disorders: the nature and treatment of anxiety and panic (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press
  • Cano-Vindel, A. (1989). Cognition, emotion and personality: a study focused on anxiety. / Cognition, emotion and personality: a study focused in anxiety. Madrid: Complutense University
  • Cano-Vindel, A., & Miguel-Tobal, J. J. (1994). Psychology, Medicine and Health. (Monograph on 'Anxiety and Stress'). Murcia: Compobell
  • EcheburĂșa, E. (2002). Advances in the psychological treatment of anxiety disorders. Madrid: Pyramid
  • Miguel-Tobal, J. J., & Cano-Vindel, A. (2002). Inventory of situations and responses of anxiety (ISRA): Manual. / Inventory of Situations and Responses of Anxiety (ISRA). Manual (5. rev. Ed.). Madrid: TEA
  • Peurifoy, R. Z. (2000). How to overcome anxiety: a revolutionary program to eliminate it permanently (2nd ed.). Bilbao: DesclĂ©e de Brouwer
  • Spielberger, C. D. (1972). Anxiety: Currents trends in theory and research. New York: Academic Press

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