Basic Information on Anxiety

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is one of the most important functions of our mental world. It is a clear expression that our brain is in need of something. Specific requirements, such as hunger, thirst, sexual needs, are felt through the presence of anxiety. The question “What is Anxiety?” can be immediately answered by saying that anxiety is an absolute must.

What does anxiety disorder mean?

Anxiety disorder is the state, in which the anxiety is severe to the extent it prevents the attempts to be made to satisfy the need. For example, a person, who is in need of succeeding during an exam, failing to answer the questions in the state of excessive anxiety.

How should the anxiety disorder be solved?

There are several defense mechanisms in the human brain in order to make excessive anxiety bearable. They can be divided into two main categories as successful or unsuccessful.
Unsuccessful defense mechanisms are the ones that fail to decrease the anxiety to a bearable point. Denial, for instance, is one of those. Think about it! What happens if a person in thirst denies his/her thirst due to the anxiety s/he feels? The thirst goes even bigger, the anxiety grows even stronger accordingly and, in parallel, it reaches a level of disorder instead of getting eliminated. Successful mechanisms, however, can be summarized as endeavors to determine the cause of anxiety and to produce solutions.

What are the symptoms of anxiety disorders?

The question “What is Anxiety?” is almost as important as the question What are the symptoms of anxiety disorders?”. Brain shows a series of reactions in the event that anxiety is extremely severe. These are either oriented at avoiding a problem, or a state of exaggerated caution, which is equal to fighting. When detailed, the anxiety symptoms are as follows:

  • Severe tachycardia
  • Cold sweating
  • Shivering
  • Increase in breathing

Deterioration in blood acidity based on inhalation are the primary anxiety symptoms.

It is characterized by the numbness and tingling in hands, arms, lips and fingers, and contraction in striated muscles as a result of all these factors. Contracted, all muscles feel like violin strings. If trapezius muscle is involved, a tension-type headache occurs. As a matter of fact, symptoms of anxiety can be described with this metaphor: The shape a fighting body will take is a summary of what’s going on in the event of extreme anxiety. Pupils expand to let the eyes see far away, the blood going into leg muscles increases, the blood going into skin muscles decreases, which means the fighting-related organs receive more blood. This includes brain, too. Cardiac veins expand, hyperventilation (frequent breathing), etc. occurs.

What is the treatment of anxiety disorders?

Excessive anxiety treatment can be taken into consideration in three ways:

  • Psychotherapies, primarily CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and Supportive therapy.
  • Pharmacotherapy to control the molecular changes in the brain (medication)
  • Finally, Deep TMS (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation) to fix the electro-physiological abnormalities that occur in neural tracks.

Of course, anxiety disorder may accompany other medical or psychiatric situations. In such cases, determining and treating the underlying cause must be the main strategy.

Prof. Dr. Kemal Arıkan
Psychiatrist