What is Anxiety?

Written by: Marzieh Shirazi, Psychologist.

Anxiety can mean nervousness, worriedness, or self-doubt. Sometimes, the cause of anxiety is easy to spot, while other times it may not be. Everyone feels some level of anxiety once in a while. But overwhelming, recurring, or “out of nowhere” dread can deeply impact people.

Diagnosing anxiety depends on a person’s feelings of worry, so symptoms will vary. Personality, co-occurring mental health conditions, and other factors may explain a person’s symptoms.

Anxiety can cause intrusive or obsessive thoughts. A person with anxiety may feel confused or find it hard to concentrate. Feeling restless or frustrated can also be a sign of anxiety. Other people with anxiety may feel depressed.

Differentiation between fear and anxiety:

Fear is caused by a real threat while anxiety is caused by our feeling.

Manifestation of anxiety:

Anxiety can manifest in a variety of ways in the human body. We can discharge our anxiety in three pathways

Pathways of anxiety discharge:

• Anxiety symptoms in smooth muscles

• Anxiety symptoms in strained muscles

• Anxiety symptoms in Cognitive/Perceptual Disruption

Anxiety discharged in smooth muscles:

Smooth muscle, also called involuntary muscle, is a type of muscles that contracts without any voluntary control. Smooth muscle present in inner organs walls like stomach, bladder, uterus, intestine, blood vessels, heart, etc.

The nervous system spontaneously controls smooth muscles via hormones, neurotransmitters, and other receptors.

Smooth muscle anxiety is linked with a wide range of physical problems that are emotional in origin but can be mistaken as medical.

Hypertension, heart attack, migraine, irritable bowel syndrome (e.g., acid, spasms, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, constipation), ulcerative colitis, reactive airways (e.g., asthma attacks), sudden and urge to urinate or defecate, fibromyalgia, painful menstruation, painful intercourse, menstrual irregularity, are medical conditions are associated with discharging anxiety in smooth muscle.

It is important to know that discharging anxiety in smooth muscles is associated with different characteristics such as self- attack, self -punishment and self -punitive thinking.
Clinical researchers, especially in the literature on intensive short-term dynamic psychotherapy, have noted an association between self-attacking thoughts and smooth muscle symptoms. While it is not clear whether the self-punitive thoughts can cause a stomach-ache or migraine, harsh thoughts and smooth muscle symptoms do seem to show up together.

If you are suffering from self-attack and self -punitive thoughts it means that you are discharging your anxiety in the smooth muscles. So, ISTDP may be a useful treatment for you to overcome your automatic emotional factors.

Anxiety discharged in strained muscles:

Strained muscles also called voluntary muscles which are able to be voluntarily controlled.

Hand clenching, tension in the intercostal muscles of the chest, sighing, tension in arms, shoulders, neck, legs, and feet, jaw clenching, biting, and tension headaches are anxiety symptoms in strained muscles.

Anxiety symptoms in Cognitive/Perceptual Disruption:

Poor memory and concentration, “visual blurring, tunnel vision, blindness”,” anesthesia it means: sudden loss of feeling in areas of the body”, “Fainting, freezing, fugue states, dizziness “, hallucinations and, ringing in the ears are anxiety discharge in cognitive /perceptual disruption.

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