Anxiety is one of the most common human experiences and is linked to different mental, biological and social elements. Although it is a common experience, anxiety can easily become a major condition of suffering. It is also an experience often confused with others (such as stress, anxiety or fear), which are also a source of discomfort.
Ironically, the reasons why anxiety is generated; or rather, not knowing these reasons is one of the triggers of anxiety. Below, we’ll go over different definitions of anxiety, and their relationship to other similar concepts, to finally offer an answer to the following question: Is It Normal To Have Anxiety For No Reason? Let’s see.
Anxiety, fear, stress or distress?
Since the beginning of the 20th century, anxiety has been placed as one of the main subjects of study in psychology and related fields, such as medicine or physiology. The latter created the problem of the precise definition of “anxiety”, And from here on, tackle it properly. More specifically in psychology, its different theoretical currents are often confronted with contradictions and overlaps with which anxiety ended up mingling with anxiety, stress, fear, fear, tension and others.
In fact, in diagnostic textbooks for the classification of mental disorders, and in their translations, anxiety the concepts of anxiety, stress or fear have often been mixed up, Through which different manifestations are grouped both psychically and physically.
From anxiety to anxiety
Psychologists Serra, Ortega and Zubeidat (2003) conducted a theoretical study where they invite us to reflect on this subject, and tell us that in some of the more classic definitions, the concept of “anxiety” was linked to the predominance of . physical reactions: paralysis, fear and acuity when grasping the causal phenomenon. Unlike that of “anxiety”, which had been defined by the predominance of psychological symptoms: feeling of suffocation, danger or startle; accompanied by the haste to seek effective solutions to the feeling of threat.
Regarding the latter, the authors tell us that Sigmund Freud had already proposed at the beginning of the 20th century the German term “Angst” to designate physiological activation. The latter concept has been translated into English “Anxiety”, and in Spanish it has been translated doubly into “anguish” and “anxiety”.
Anxiety is currently defined as a response that generates psychological stress accompanied by a somatic correlate, Which is not attributable to real dangers, but which presents itself as a persistent and diffuse state close to panic. It is linked to future dangers, which are often indefinable and unforeseeable (Serra, Ortega and Zubeidat, 2003). In this sense, anxiety tends to cripple, both due to hyperactivity and unresponsiveness.
It is a different experience to fear, because fear presents itself with present, defined and localized stimuli, so it is an experience which has a rational explanation, and which tends more to activate than to paralyze. Likewise, anxiety has been closely linked to fear, as it is caused by a clearly identifiable stimulus. In either case, the person has a clear picture of the stimuli or the situations that generate them.
From anxiety to stress
We finally came across the problem of differentiating between anxiety and stress. Some authors suggest that the latter concept has replaced anxiety, both in research and in interventions. Others think that stress is now the term that refers to the physiological response, and anxiety is what is linked to the subjective response. The term stress is perhaps the most difficult to define today, as it has recently been used almost indiscriminately by many fields of study.
In any case, those who study it generally agree that stress is experience related to significant changes in the person’s environment; and with feelings of frustration, boredom, or lack of control. It is then an adaptive process that triggers different emotions and allows us to relate to the environment, as well as to respond to their requests. However, it is an experience that can also be generalized and that refers to the tensions that our societies are currently going through.
Anxiety for no reason?
If we summarize all of the above, we can see that feeling anxiety for no apparent reason is not only normal, but is a condition of the same anxiety experience. It is a situation that they have a psychological origin and a physical correlateSo this lack can also be a goal of therapeutic work.
In this regard, and given that anxiety has recently been studied in relation to physical correlation, there is an important part of psychology and medicine that has approached it as a multicausal phenomenon, where they can identify different trigger events. Both psychic and social and physiological, for example, traumatic events with frequent use of psychotropic substances.
If this is normal, is it preventable?
As we have seen, there are experiences of discomfort that are part of human beings and that can be adaptive, both physically and psychologically. This is discomfort manifested at the psychic and somatic levelBut it is not isolated, but in permanent connection with the requirements and characteristics of the environment.
The problem is when these discomforts no longer act as coping or stabilizing mechanisms, but are presented to virtually any circumstance around us, including circumstances without concrete reality. This is a problem because, if the reason for the discomfort has to do with everything around us (even the most everyday and intimate), it easily gives us the feeling that it has no end. In other words, it is spreading.
It’s when it comes to anxiety that has become cyclical, it can cause permanent or repetitive images of suffering, In addition to affecting our daily activity, our relationships and our life processes.
In short, anxiety can be a functional reaction of our body, it can keep us on the lookout for different stimuli, whether positive or negative. But, if this becomes a very frequent experience, Caused by a diffuse perception of danger in everyday situations, can then generate significant suffering. However, it is a preventable and controllable type of suffering.
One of the first things to do to counter this, is precisely to address this feeling (psychological and physiological) of widespread threat, as well as to explore the apparent lack of motives that generate it.
- Serra, JC, Ortega, V. and Zubeidat, I. (2003). Anxiety, anxiety and stress: three concepts to differentiate. Mal-estar Magazine I Subjectivity, 3 (1): 10-59.