One of the first thing that people should know about anxiety is that everybody is prone to suffer from it. Some days, people wake up feeling that there’s just too much going on in their lives. And because of this, a lot of people think that anxiety it’s not a disease but rather a mental state, although this is not the norm: Anxiety disorders exist, and they can cause very serious distress and pain to those who have this conditions.
Anxiety disorders can be separated in four categories, which are:
- Panic Disorders: Sensations of terror, dread or alarm that strike at random and tend to paralyze the person.
- Phobias: Phobias tend to be confused with panic disorders, but they work very differently. Panic strikes at random and its trigger could be anything from a spider to leaving the house, and may or may not be recurrent. Phobias are more specific and centered on objects, places or situations that cause extreme concern and distress, like planes, small spaces or clowns.
- Social Anxiety Disorder: Another name for this disorder is Social Phobia, but it englobes so many aspects that it isn’t considered as such. This disorder is centered on every day social interactions, such as meeting new people, greeting a family member, stepping into the office of the boss, etc.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder: The usual symptoms of this disorder are unrealistic and profound worries about practically anything, even if there’s no reason for such worries. The difference between this and the Panic Disorders it that its duration is longer and less crippling, so the person can apparently live a “normal” life on the outside but be consumed by this worries on the inside, thus experimenting phases of severe depression.
It’s important to clarify that overthinking is a common symptom in all kinds of anxiety disorders, but today we will focus on the why does this happen on the Generalized Anxiety Disorder.
Overthinking is caused because, during anxiety episodes, the brain enters a state commonly referred as “Hypervigilant”, where anything that happens is processed as either very important, worrisome or necessary. The brain starts diverting all of his attention to this topic, thus making the person thin over and over again about it. On top of that, the brain may even pick up another subject or urgent matter and start repeating the process on the new topic without resting importance to the first one, which makes it harder to concentrate in any of them or any other matter that may present afterwards.
Other ways in which overthinking presents itself are:
- Obsessing over things that happened, didn’t happen, or could or not happen. Usually, starts by staging possible reactions to events to the point of making the person worry when things don’t go as “planned”.
- A strong worry about how the person is viewed by its peers.
- In some persons, having the fear of suffering from anxiety becomes a common trigger for the anxiety attack itself.
Anxiety disorders can be treated, although a cure for them hasn’t being found because they originate from the subconscious side of the brain. The most popular ways of treating anxiety are medications and cognitive behavioral therapy.
Medications are a very difficult way of handling anxiety because there aren’t specific medicines to treat each specific disorder. The most common are Benzodiazepines, which are sedatives focused in relaxing the body muscles and calm the mind, helping reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy, which focuses on creating social and personal patterns on the person who suffers from anxiety, thus helping them achieve goals and relax, is often recommended whether the patient is or isn’t under medication.