Anxiety and Stress Disorders on the Way to the New Normality

Stress causes "social bubbles" in which one prefers to be at home and avoid situations of exposure. Know their characteristics and seek professional help in cases of acute manifestations.

Anxiety and Stress Disorders on the Way to the New Normality
Anxiety has become normalized. Photo by Nik Shuliahin 💛💙 / Unsplash

In this era in which we are moving towards new normality, anxiety and stress are in many of us, and sometimes we even normalize these emotions and do not identify them clearly, considered the president of the Mexican Society of Psychology, Alejandro Zalce Aceves. Given this, it is essential to know their characteristics and seek professional help in cases of acute manifestations in a person, he recommended.

The specialist participated in the virtual cycle " The neurosciences sofa", organized by the Faculty of Sciences of the UNAM, with the talk "Anxiety and stress disorders on the way to the new normality", in which he explained:

Anxiety (coming from the Latin term anxietas, meaning distress or affliction) is a state of psychophysical discomfort characterized by a feeling of restlessness, uneasiness, insecurity, or uneasiness in the face of what is experienced as an imminent threat and of indefinite cause.

"The basic difference between normal and pathological anxiety is that the latter is based on an unrealistic or distorted assessment of the threat. When anxiety is very severe and acute, it can paralyze the individual, turning into panic," he warned.

There are different clinical conditions in which anxiety is the fundamental symptom. "Among them would be anxiety crisis disorder (in which anxiety is presented in the form of episodes such as palpitations, choking sensation, instability, tremors, or fear of dying); generalized anxiety disorder (where there is a permanent state of anxiety or phobic disorder, where there are specific or non-specific fears); and obsessive-compulsive disorder (with unpleasant ideas that can be accompanied by ritual acts that reduce the anxiety of the obsession)".

Anxiety also occurs as a reaction to acute or post-traumatic stress, and in disorders of adaptation to adverse life situations.

The psychologist clarified that feeling it occasionally is a normal part of life, but those who present anxiety disorders often have internal, excessive, and persistent worries and fears about daily situations. These feelings of anxiety and panic interfere with daily activities, are difficult to control, are disproportionate to the real danger, and can last for a long time.

To prevent them, certain places or situations can be avoided. Symptoms may begin in childhood or adolescence and continue into adulthood. The expert defined stress as a real or supposed threat to the physiological or psychological integrity of an individual that results in a physiological and/or behavioral response.

Depending on the intensity, predictability, and recurrence of a stressor, the responses of individuals can range from tolerance and avoidance at the individual level to the rapid appearance of new traits or extinction at the population level. A moderate level of stress is essential for the growth and differentiation of an organism's metabolic systems.

It is a response that occurs in three stages: initial phase (alarm), which occurs when the presence of the stressor is detected; second phase (adaptation or resistance), present when the response system is mobilized, returning to equilibrium; and third phase (exhaustion), which occurs if the stressor is prolonged over time and alterations related to chronic stress arise.

The specialist considered that in post-pandemia, anxiety has been transformed to the level of normalization since people do not detect that they are stressed until a major health problem occurs. Moreover, stress is generated when going out of the house, activities inside the home are preferred, and "social bubbles" are created (whether family, school, or work). "In general, there is a tendency to avoid situations of exposure," concluded Zalce Aceves.