Anxiety is a natural defense mechanism of the body, which is activated when we feel in danger, whether in an emotional, physical or both. When we interpret something as a threat, the adrenal glands release adrenaline, a hormone and neurotransmitter that increases the heart rate, constricts the blood vessels, dilates the airways and, in short, prepares us to flee or face danger. The half-life of epinephrine in plasma is 2-3 minutes, so its effect is very limited.
On the other hand, cortisol is the substance that is actually known as “the stress hormone . ” This glucocorticoid prepares us for more long-term dangerous situations, causing the mobilization of nutrients to the muscular environment, regulating the levels of local inflammation, decreasing bone synthesis and many other things. One of the objectives of cortisol is to direct the stored body energy towards the locomotor system, in order to have the body prepared for any threat.
The problem with this last physiological response is that it can occur in the long term, which causes deleterious effects on the body. Being a glucocorticoid, this substance is immunosuppressive, which translates into a greater facility to contract certain common pathologies, such as colds and flu. In addition, it also causes long-term intestinal imbalances.
To avoid the establishment of a high level of cortisol in your body in the face of continuous stress, here are some key ideas on how to manage anxiety in our day to day life. You may interested in: How To Overcome Negative Thoughts
How to manage pathological anxiety in our day to day:
First, it is necessary to clarify a key concept: the anxious emotional state is not always bad , as long as it responds to a specific stimulus. Many techniques can be taught to manage momentary stress from home, but if it develops over the long term, help should come from a medical professional. Therefore, it is essential to differentiate a sporadic anxiety disorder from a generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).
As indicated by professional sources, anxiety disorders are the most common psychological problems in the European Union (EU), with an annual prevalence of 14% of the population and an average of 61.5 million affected people. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), published by the American Psychological Association in 2013, the diagnostic criteria for detecting GAD are the following:
-Excessive anxiety and worry (apprehension), which appears most days of the week, for at least a 6-month period. This concern is directed at many activities college, university, etc.
-The patient finds it difficult or impossible to control his worries.
-The patient has 3 or more of the aforementioned symptoms in addition to anxiety, with at least some of them constantly present during the last 6 months: lack of rest, ease of feeling fatigue, difficulty concentrating, irritability, tension muscle and / or sleep problems.
-Anxiety and worry cause the patient significant distress in the social, occupational, and other areas important for personal development.
-Anxiety cannot be explained by physiological processes derived from substance use or by another medical condition (such as hyperthyroidism).
-Anxiety cannot be explained by other clinical entities of a psychological nature (panic disorder, ADHD and other diseases).
-If you have seen yourself reflected in this diagnostic criterion, your anxiety management is not within you, but in professional, psychological or psychiatric help . GAD is treated with selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor drugs (SSRIs), tricyclic antidepressants, benzodiazepines in the worst moments of the condition, buspirone and / or beta-blockers in some cases.
How to manage non-pathological anxiety:
Managing sporadic anxiety due to a specific situation is much easier than treating a clinical picture, because as we have seen, this feeling is normal and usually resolves on its own when the stressor disappears from the environment. In any case, there are a series of keys that can be followed so that the nerves do not take control in a given situation. First of all, it should be noted that the respiratory rate is one of the most important things to keep under control in times of tension and stress . When we breathe more than necessary, an abnormal blood gas exchange occurs, which results in a loss of carbon dioxide in the blood (and an excess of oxygen).
This can lead to a clinical picture known as “respiratory alkalosis”, which results in dizziness, vertigo, confusion, shortness of breath and chest discomfort. To avoid getting to this point, you need to maintain full control over your breathing. If your nerves can handle you, lie down and breathe deeply, hands on your diaphragm, and count to 10 in each breathing cycle (breathe in-hold-out).
Beyond this, it is also usually recommended to go out to exercise after a very marked moment of stress. The release of endorphins and the burning of excess energy help a lot to manage sporadic anxiety . In addition, when running or walking, breathing is consciously regulated. All of this helps prevent respiratory alkalosis and panic states.
In summary, pathological anxiety must be treated pharmacologically and psychologically, while physiological anxiety can be addressed from home. In any case, it never hurts to go to a psychology professional to obtain the emotional tools necessary for day-to-day life, regardless of whether you have a psychological condition or not.