Anxiety and fear are inscribed in our lives – they accompany us every day to a greater or lesser extent. And just as fear is caused directly by an external threat, anxiety is an internal process. It is a condition associated with the anticipation of danger coming either from outside or from within our own body. Anxiety manifests itself as a feeling of unrest, tension, embarrassment and danger. Much like fear it renders it easier for us to adapt to different situations. However, when anxiety becomes pathological it leads to disorders in its consequence.
Statistically speaking, about one third of patients reporting to primary healthcare (GP) experience emotional disorders. The most common ones are depression and anxiety disorders. A large percentage of these patients suffer from the somatic manifestations of these disorders. And it is these patients, who require medical assistance even 7 times more often.
Anxiety is most often accompanied by:
- excessive sweating,
- trembling (of hands, legs)
- muscle tightening,
- tension symptoms on the part of the shoulder girdle and spine,
- itching of your skin,
- abdominal pain,
- body tingling,
- heartache and palpitations,
- breathing difficulties,
- fainting (syncope),
- watery eyes.
It is often in the form of disorders related to the aforelisted symptoms, patients seeking medical assistance.
People with anxiety disorders often suffer from more than single type of mental disorder. These are very often accompanied by depression, personality disorders, appetite disorders, and addictions. But this is not necessarily the case. Numerous different factors play a significant role in the development of anxiety disorders. Their complexity should be identified individually, preferably based on a biopsychosocial model, i.e. taking into account biological, environmental, social and cultural factors.
Types of anxiety disorders
Generalized anxiety disorders, specific phobias, panic attacks, hypochondria, PTSD – anxiety disorders have numerous faces. Regardless of the type, they always cause discomfort, and often suffering, in the patient, hinder everyday functioning, and sometimes completely exclude the patient from the society.
We talk about generalized anxiety disorders when the patient finds it difficult to escape from anxiety even for a moment. The anxiety condition prevails most of the time. It’s hard to relax, unwind. The cause of these symptoms are chronic worry and catastrophic interpretations of what is happening around the patient.
Panic attacks initiate suddenly, and unwind rapidly. They are accompanied by a sudden feeling of terror and various somatic symptoms.
Anxiety disorders in the form of phobias are triggered by some objectively harmless external factor or event that a person perceives as threatening, tries to avoid it, and experiences significant discomfort, suffering in its presence.
The symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorders are a source of discomfort, and they disrupt everyday functioning as well as relationships with other people. Obsessions are intrusive thoughts, images, impulses that appear in a completely uncontrolled way and most often trigger severe anxiety or discomfort.
Treatment of anxiety disorders
Treatment of anxiety disorders should always be comprehensive. What plays a special, and a basic role therein are psychotherapy and psychoeducation. Pharmacotherapy very often only forms complementary treatment. All therapeutic interactions are targeted at changing the patients’ aptitude towards the ailments they experience and changing the way they function, including dealing with them in a way that is beneficial to them. The VR TierOne device forms a perfect example of a tool that allows not only to create a safe environment in the form of a virtual garden, but also to conduct therapy for the patient in it. Scientific research demonstrated that the use of the VR TierOne medical device reduces the level of depression and anxiety in patients by 37%, and stress by 28%. So should we be afraid of it, after all?