Anxiety results from normal brain activity: human beings react in anticipation of the outcome of their actions; uncertainty arises from the assumption that not everything is played out; the uncertainty arouses anxiety in us.
We can classify brain activity into three forms.
- Hypo activity: Being excessively relaxed when faced with a risky situation could be a sign of a pathological state (manic state, substance abuse, onset of Alzheimer’s…).
- Optimal functioning: Anxiety, without excess, is a useful feeling when it is justified by real causes (examination, family or professional worries…). It constitutes a warning system and allows us to mobilize the necessary resources to adapt and cope.
- Hyper activity: Anxiety disorders are when anxiety:
- persists despite the disappearance of the situation that caused it;
- appears constantly when no event justifies it;
- affects the social, relational and/or physiological functioning of the person affected by it;
Anxiety is expressed differently under the influence of our personal or family experiences, our imagination and our analytical abilities.
- Trigger:high stakes
- Consequence: some or no suffering
- Behaviour: no paralysis
- Trigger: unlikely or unfounded events
- Trigger: significant distress
- Behaviour: Paralysis – flight – avoidance
Anxiety disorders take on many forms:
- Generalized anxiety: Diffuse, persistent (at least 6 months), irrational feeling of anxiety. It usually involves several of the everyday situations.
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD): Unreasonable enactment of stereotyped and repetitive behaviours in response to obsessive anxiety concerns.
- Phobic Disorder: Irrational, excessive, and disproportionate fear that leads to avoidance of the situations that cause it.
- Panic Disorder: Violent anxiety attack, which is very intensely focused over a very short period of time. This is called a panic attack or anxiety attack.
- Social anxiety disorder: Persistent and intense fear, during situations of social interaction, of behaving inappropriately or being judged in a demeaning way.
- Post-traumatic stress disorder: Anxiety disorder that is a delayed or traumatic response after exposure to a stressful event.