Anxiety Part 2: Understanding Anxiety or Panic Disorders

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The cases of anxiety are very high and the effects are profound. These effects have 3 basic categories, namely, physical, psycho-emotional, and social. Let us talk about the physical effects of anxiety. It results in an array of physiological discomforts. One manifestation can be labeled under psychosomatic signs like muscle cramps, headaches, heart palpitations, upset stomach, and other body pains and aches. Sustained anxiety ends up in health risks. Organic and functional sicknesses ranging from dyspepsia to heart problems are the long term effects.

Occasionally, anxiety may cause serious psycho-emotional problems. Initially, anxiety decreases performance by decreasing reasoning abilities, imaginative thinking, and cause general discouragement. Sense of depression and disorientation may the happen. Personality maladjustments are the end result.

Anxiety may also end up in retarded interpersonal development and strained social relationships. Severely anxious people may tend to avoid social events even with familiar friends to reduce anxiety level. Social events tend to produce sense of uncertainty, uneasiness, and suspicion, with the normal reaction of solitude and separation. Accordingly, the development of social etiquette and communication skills may be slowed down. Severely anxious people learn to live on their own.

Let us talk about the causes of anxiety. The psychodynamics pertaining to anxiety are very complex. Some psychologists describe anxiety as an indirect and vague feeling, having no certain source or fundamental cause. The belief can certainly be challenged. Anxiety has a cause and effect relationship, though the cause may be misunderstood or hidden.

Actual causes of anxiety are associated with specific tenuous mental states. There are 3 tenuous mental states that derive emotional disturbances. The first one is guilt. Guilt creates psychic tension and it is the feeling of personal wrongdoing and being blamed for the punishment. The guilt may be true or false. The psychic experience and tension are identical.

True of real guilt leads to rejection by either of some authoritative or societally-established law. When a person steals, he or she may feel guilty. False or imaginary guilt results from failure to conform to the expectations of others. For example, the peers of a child may ridicule him because he has played poorly on the team though he has exerted his full effort. He may then feel that he has failed his peers and feels guilty eventually. This kind of guilt is unjustified as the supposed offense does not pertain to moral culpability. Some secondary mental states pertaining to guilt are despair, insecurity, loneliness, discouragement, and depression.

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Many neuroses have guilt as their main component. The impetus pertaining to false guilt is the need to please, win an approval, or to be accepted by others. The individual who feels guilty should ask himself or herself some questions. What kind of guilt am I feeling? Is this a justified guilt?

What is the cause of it? What is the correct way to view the situation? If the guilt is justified, then moral action must be pursued to address and solve it. If the guilt is unjustified, then it must be acknowledge as such, assessed as harmful, wrong, and disowned.

The second tenuous mental state that may generate anxiety is egoism. A personal suffering from egoism has preoccupation of himself and his personal needs. It should be acknowledge that a common trait of an egoistic mind is anger. Egoism has 2 fundamental aspects, namely, superiority and inferiority.

Superiority compels an individual to obsessively strive for attention and to secure the praise of other. His need to recognition will foster a judgmental, insensitive, and merciless attitude. His behavior is also volatile. Many examples of this are from the world of showbiz and professional sports. Some secondary mental states of superiority are jealousy, hostility, bitterness, hatred, envy, and resentment.

An inferior disposition seems to be more prevalent of the two aspects in people who suffer anxiety. An inferior disposition compels an individual to socially withdraw and feel intimidated around people. The person feels unworthy of personal recognition or love. He may even lack in self-respect. This individual may feel that anything he does is either not right or not good enough. This person sees himself as a failure. A child who is continually being criticized by his authoritarian parent may tend to see himself as stupid. Eventually, he may lose interest in study and may lose all confidence even in his ability to imagine and think.

A person with an inferior disposition dislikes himself and consequently believes that other people do not like him. He often becomes a perfectionist, which is a way to a very unhappy, frustrating, and unsatisfying life. The person predictably never makes good grades regardless of how much he may try. The secondary mental states of an inferior disposition are envy, hatred, jealousy, insecurity, loneliness, emptiness, discouragement, depression, and so on.

The third tenuous mental state is fear. Not all fear is harmful. Instinctive fear is needed for physical survival. Morbid fear is harmful and is characterized as a slavish preoccupation with personal well-being and safety. An immoderate concern over securing an admirable public image, a high social statues, a respected reputation, family welfare, material possessions, good health, and so on may lead to morbid fear. Morbid fear arises when an exaggerated importance or value is associated to these particular objects. The motivational belief is the procurement of these objects provides security. The perception of a person, on the other hand, has become distorted. Consequently, the threat of damage and loss of these objects may be incapacitating, and even paralyzing. The secondary mental states of fear are panic, suspicion, insecurity, depression, and so on. Fear is also an essential component of many neuroses like paranoia, phobia, and hysteria.

These 3 major tenuous mental states may be situational or chronic. If situational, then their duration is temporary if handled properly. If chronic, then professional counseling may be needed to examine the causative factors. When dealing with anxiety, the determinative mental state should be fully explored and confronted. The psychic tension is reduced through the exposure of its causes. When exploring the causes of anxiety, the antecedent perception of any given mental state must be examined. The mental perception of a person determines the particular mental state that is responsible for ensuing anxiety. The personal interpretation of a set of circumstances affects a corresponding mental state. For example, an individual may notice after a company meeting that a colleague is looking suspiciously at him. The facial expression of the colleague may be innocent. On the other hand, this colleague, especially if he is suspicious and naturally sensitive may interpret this expression as antagonistic. As an outcome of that faulty mental perception, they individual may then feel rejected or guilty. He may then start to scrutinize himself, reflecting upon his present relationships and his past actions. If this thinking continues, this person may become anxious and depressed.

Hence, anxiety should be managed indirectly. For instance, an individual may suffer from rejection syndrome. As an outcome of the psychic conflict, he may find himself anxious all the time and completely unaware that anxiety is the outcome of this certain psychic conflict. The person should realize the relationship between anxiety and psychic conflict. In addition, an adjustment of perception or a reframing of interpretation is important in correcting emotional disturbances. Adjusting personal perceptions or reframing personal interpretations does not end up in a masking or denial of truth of a given situation nor does it end up in a subtle form of self-delusion. Psychic reframing or mental adjustment simply helps in the achievement of a right perspective so that there may be proper understanding. The goal is to learn to think correctly and clearly.

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