Anxiety and fear are two related but not equivalent concepts.
Fear is a normal body reaction to situations involving an external threat, since an increase in heart rate and level of alertness of the organism and other characteristic signs we have all experienced at one time when we felt threatened or endangered.
Anxiety is an unpleasant sensation accompanied by signs and symptoms similar to those found when we feel afraid, due to increased secretion of corticosteroids in the adrenal glands and by activation of the sympathetic nervous system with release of adrenaline and noradrenalin, among others neurotransmitters and hormones.
Anxiety occurs in response to stress; it may be due to various circumstances, of such work, family, etc.
A certain level of anxiety is healthy and adaptive and allows us to cope with adverse life circumstances and solve problems that we encounter.
When the anxiety is excessive and does not meet the normal stresses of life, but that appears by inadequate and inappropriate circumstances, ceases to be an adaptive response and becomes a mental health disorder.
There are several types of anxiety, of which the most important are:
Generalized anxiety: Anxiety that appears in an almost permanent and lasting less than 6 months.
Panic: Situation in which anxiety is expressed acutely and with symptoms that may mimic serious organic disease, appearing palpitations, feeling of immediate death, dizziness and other signs and symptoms very unpleasant for those who experience them.
Agoraphobia: Anxiety and fear of being trapped or unable to leave certain places, including a supermarket, a sports center, consultation with a doctor, etc..
Animal phobia or specific objects: The presence of spiders, mice, snakes, enclosed spaces (agoraphobia), water, etc. may lead to an overreaction of anxiety is inappropriate and disproportionate to the object causing it.
Posttraumatic stress disorder: Anxiety is triggered by exposure to a traumatic event that overwhelms the body, such as a car accident, sexual assault or terrorist attack. The experience of trauma can lead to the occurrence of nightmares or reliving as images of the traumatic situation lived. When the duration of the disorder is short, less than 2 to 4 weeks is called acute stress disorder.
The treatment of anxiety disorders is primarily a psychological basis, drawing to psychotherapy, which can be analytically oriented, cognitive-behavioral, etc., depending on the disorder, the clinical and patient’s personal tastes and preferences of the patient and the therapist. It is sometimes necessary to resort to a pharmacological treatment with drugs to treat anxiety, mood stabilizing or control other signs or symptoms.
In this connection it is advisable to avoid the use or abuse of drugs in situations that are not suitable or when they can interfere with the progress and goals set by psychotherapy. Therefore, taking medication in cases of anxiety should be made after evaluation and prescription by a doctor, should be avoided in these cases the self-medication.