Welcome back, everyone. In this month’s issue, we’ll turn our attention to anxiety. We dedicate a few lines for a first analysis of it and we are going to create the same language to understand it as deeply as possible
Let’s start by making distinctions about specific experiences. We focus on fear as an emotion that has an adaptive function and is being activated in the face of a threat of danger, by sending specific signals to the brain, so that it can be ready to react to escape or attack.
We focus less on anxiety as an emotion (which is normally less intense), rather than anxiety experienced over a prolonged period of time. It involves a set of cognitive, behavioral and physiological reactions: palpitations, tachycardia, increased sweating, fine tremors or large tremors, choking sensation, feeling of asphyxia, chest pain or discomfort, nausea or abdominal discomfort, feelings of dizziness, instability, of “light-headedness” or fainting, chills or hot flashes, feelings of numbness or tingling, derealization (feeling of unreality) or depersonalization (being detached from oneself), fear of losing control or “going crazy” and fear of dying. It is very important to point out that each of these symptoms must be evaluated not independently but always accompanied by the attentive eye of a specialist, who can read it within a general clinical picture.
Different is the “panic attack” which is characterized as an episode of sudden and intense fear or a rapid increase in anxiety, in the absence of an apparent anxiety stimulus. The first panic attack is usually unexpected and sudden and the persoan a posteriori is not capable of the event. The fright is so enormous, that it often generates a resort to first aid, subsequent attacks become more predictable, and the person comes to develop a fear of the attack itself.
We identify -asia and fear as non-functional reactions (their very functioning comes to have significant side effects) when they are excessive or persistent (typically lasting 6 months or longer) compared to the stage of development.
Let’s now take some time to understand how important it is to listen to your? anxiety. Doing this allows us to get more in touch with our body and receive all those signals that we do not want or are not able to listen to on a daily basis. The “knot in the throat”, for example, does not become something to fear, to escape from, but becomes a signal that our body sends us to communicate something to us. Working to eliminate the knot in the throat so that it no longer appears (because it is clearly annoying) leads us to work at a level that is not entirely useful, as it is only problem-focused. Instead, it becomes more useful to use the throat knot as a springboard to understand what is happening in our lives, so inevitably the body reacts with anxious states. Therefore rather understanding, than eliminating, will lead you to a global view of how you are functioning and what mechanisms and relational dynamics need to be shaped.
The mental functioning at the basis of anxiety can be focused on anticipating and seeing beyond what is happening, in other words “living constantly in the near future”. The bad habit of anticipating and staying with the mind in the future creates a mode of thinking in which the person constantly has an excessive level of physiological activation. We go mentally into the future to prevent and be able to “control what will happen”. All this happens in a dysfunctional way, i.e. we are under the illusion that we can really have control, forgetting that in reality this is not the case.
The anxiety appears in its different forms, in order to make the person feel a specific malaise that had not been adequately listened to, until that moment.
An excellent approach for this, becomes that of considering it and understanding its existence without aiming to eliminate it. In fact, doing so highlights the fundamental approach that one does not accept and does not want to live with anxiety.