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20/Aug/2017

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a natural human adaptive mechanism that permits us to be alert to a committed event. Actually, a certain degree of anxiety provides an appropriate component of caution in dangerous situations. This moderate anxiety can help us stay focused and face the challenges ahead.
Sometimes, however, the system response to anxiety is excessive, not working properly. More specifically, anxiety is disproportionated to the situation, occurring even in the absence of any ostensible danger. The subject feels paralyzed with a feeling of helplessness what generally leads to a deterioration of psychosocial and physiological functioning. The anxiety is considered as a disorder when it occurs at inappropriate times, or is so intense and durable that it interferes with normal activities of the person.

Types and symptoms

Disorder of generalized anxiety:
This disorder generates a chronic tension even when nothing seems to provoke it. This excessive concern or nervousness manifests almost daily being typically diagnosed when patient  has suffered the symptoms during a minimum of six months.

Panic disorder (or panic attack):
The patient experiences recurrent panic attacks that arise spontaneously. It is an acute and extreme anxiety in which often the person who suffers it thinks that will die. These sudden attacks of intense fear are not a direct cause. Sometimes, patients with this disorder develop anxiety to the next attack whose occurrence can not be predicted, it is called anticipatory anxiety.

Phobic disorder:
This disorder have as essential characteristic the presence of an irrational and persistent fear to a specific object,  activity or situation. In consequence, the individual tend to avoid the feared object. For example, fear of flying, birds or open spaces.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder:

In this disorder the patients manifest involuntary thoughts or actions to not generate anxiety. The subjects recognize the absurdity of their thoughts or actions. For example, washing hands every little while.

Post-traumatic stress disorder:
It occurs when unpleasant psychological effects are manifested after the impact of a emotional trauma, war, rape, etc. It is characterized by persistent memories of the traumatic event, an emotional state with heightened vigilance and a general reduction of interest in daily events.

Treatments

There are several approaches for treating the anxiety.  Drugs (benzodiazepines, buspirone), psychotherapy, Neurofeedback, SHG and relaxation techniques, are the main procedures.

Data and numbers

Anxiety disorders are collectively the most common psychiatric disease. Among them highlights phobic disorder.  About 7 per cent of women and 4.3 per cent of men suffer from specific phobias (some animal, an object, darkness, etc.), while the so-called social phobias (the ability of a person to interact in an affable manner with others) are found in 13 per cent of the population.
Generalized anxiety appears in 3 to 5 per cent of adults (at some point during the year). Women are twice as likely to present it.
Panic disorder is less common and is diagnosed to less than 1 percent of the population. Women are 2 to 3 times more likely to suffer it.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder affects about 2.3 per cent of adults and occurs with approximately equal frequency in women than in men.
The post-traumatic stress affects, at least, 1 percent of the population sometime during life, although in people at higher risk, such as war veterans,  it has a higher incidence.

Neurofeedback application in  anxiety

Neurofeedback is a neuropsychological technique that allows self-regulation of the central nervous system. In cases of anxiety, the main benefits of its application are:

– Decline and disappearance of physiological signs of distress and discomfort.
– Increasing of capacity of the management and control of stressors.
– Increasing of competition capacity, security and management of their own resources.
– Better capabilities of threat management.
– Increasing of self-esteem.
– Improvement of social relations.
– Performance optimization.
– Enhancing the capacity of attention and concentration.
– Reduction of physical exertion.
– Improvement of mood.
– Disappearance or decreasing of irritability.
– Increasing of emotional stability.
– Increasing of ability to move following objectives rather than reaction to stimuli, whether rewarding or aversive.

 


NeuroVitalia 2017

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