Why am I scared

Anxiety, panic, and baseless anxiety

anxiety Fear is part of life. Everyone has experienced fear before: Before exams, during a strong thunderstorm or in a long tunnel. It originally served as a protective mechanism, for example against the fear of snakes. But many people suffer from unfounded fear. The line between justified and unfounded fear varies from person to person. Fear is pathological if it restricts life, if the person concerned strictly avoids fear-inducing situations, even if this is disadvantageous for him, or if he withdraws. Such a fear that needs treatment is called an anxiety disorder by the doctor.

But fear also has a direct physical dimension: when fear arises, high levels of the stress hormones adrenaline and cortisol circulate in the bloodstream. They put the body in a state that is ready to fight and flee. The heart beats faster, breathing becomes faster and shallower. An anxiety disorder puts the body in this alarm state unnecessarily often. As a result, there is a risk of insomnia, dizziness, sweating, palpitations and stomach problems. After a long period of time, some people become exhausted.

The doctor differentiates between different types of fears:

  • A phobia has a specific, but inappropriate, trigger for fear. The spider phobia is triggered by the sight of a spider, the claustrophobia (agoraphobia) by large crowds or large squares. In the case of social phobia, contact with people is avoided, for example out of fear of a negative evaluation. Some phobias are socially accepted, such as the fear of spiders in Central Europe - although there are no dangerous spiders there. Not all phobias require therapy. If they are treated, the (behavioral) therapy is often successful.
  • If the fear spreads and appears in a variety of situations, then there is a generalized anxiety disorder. Worries about small and unimportant things also overshadow life. It can go so far that one is afraid of the fear.
  • Another form of anxiety is panic disorder. During a panic attack, extreme fear comes out of the blue with symptoms such as palpitations or shortness of breath. A panic attack usually occurs spontaneously without any recognizable trigger.
  • However, symptoms of anxiety also occur as a concomitant symptom of various physical illnesses, for example in asthma as a fear of death caused by the shortage of breath during an asthma attack. Here it is sometimes difficult to tell whether the physical symptoms are the cause or the result of the fear.

Symptoms, their causes, measures and self-help

  • Anxiety attacks, often with fear of death and physical symptoms like trembling, sweating; Dizziness, nausea; Palpitations, racing heart; Muscle spasms; Chest tightness or pain; Sleep disorders and nightmares

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  • Anxiety lasting from hours to weeks with physical symptoms like fever, palpitations, shortness of breath; Tremors, sweating, shivering; severe weight loss or gain; Restlessness, exhaustion, sleep disorders; Nausea, vomiting

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  • Fear of threatened or actually felt pain or illness, continuous or recurring; Doctors cannot prove anything abnormal; mostly changing complaints and pain; often depression, general anxiety

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  • General, constant anxiety; Fear of possible dangers in everyday life and disasters; Anxiety on trivial occasions; Feeling of inferiority and insecurity; often nervousness, sleep disorders

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  • Anxiety, anxiety and agitation with increasing forgetfulness and confusion

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  • Fear of certain situations, objects, living beings; z. B. Fear of open spaces, crowds, leaving the house, narrow spaces, elevators, scrutinizing glances from others, height, animals, exams, etc.

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  • Fear, despair and confusion after a stressful event; often feeling "as if in shock"; often apathy, withdrawal, but also overactivity

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  • Fear and reverberation memories (Flashbacks) Weeks to months after a major threat or disaster

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  • Persistent fear for no apparent reason with dejection; Feeling of inner emptiness; often lack of drive, listlessness

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  • Fear of the unreal; Delusions, Hallucinations; abnormal body sensations

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Anxiety attacks, often with fear of death and physical symptoms like trembling, sweating; Dizziness, nausea; Palpitations, racing heart; Muscle spasms; Chest tightness or pain; Sleep disorders and nightmares

Causes: e.g. B.

Activities:

Call an emergency doctor or go to the nearest clinic

  • First occurrence for no plausible reason
  • Known diabetes
  • Symptoms such as left shoulder pain, blue lips, clouding of consciousness

Self help:

  • Practice behavioral therapy measures for known panic attacks
  • Breathe into a plastic bag until the symptoms improve
  • For diabetics who are still conscious, give or drink fruit juice or soft drink
  • If angina pectoris is known, give nitrate, take a semi-sitting position
  • If you have known diabetes, take glucose immediately or drink a soft drink containing sugar

Anxiety lasting from hours to weeks with physical symptoms like fever, palpitations, shortness of breath; Tremors, sweating, shivering; severe weight loss or gain; Restlessness, exhaustion, sleep disorders; Nausea, vomiting

Causes:

Activities:

  • Immediately to the family doctor in the event of symptoms such as high fever, shortness of breath, severe palpitations
  • Otherwise to the family doctor in the next two days

Fear of threatened or actually felt pain or illness, continuous or recurring; Doctors cannot prove anything abnormal; mostly changing complaints and pain; often depression, general anxiety

Causes:

Activities:

  • Depending on the symptoms, go to the family doctor in the next few days or weeks
  • If this has ruled out a disease, psychotherapy if necessary

Self help:

  • Relaxation procedure
  • regular exercise

General, constant anxiety; Fear of possible dangers in everyday life and disasters; Anxiety on trivial occasions; Feeling of inferiority and insecurity; often nervousness, sleep disorders

Causes:

Measure:

  • If you want treatment, go to your family doctor, psychiatrist or psychotherapist

Self help:

  • Relaxation procedure
  • Regular exercise

Anxiety, anxiety and agitation with increasing forgetfulness and confusion

Root cause:

Chronic organic psychosis, e.g. B.

Measure:

  • In the next few weeks to the family doctor

Fear of certain situations, objects, living beings; z. B. Fear of open spaces, crowds, leaving the house, narrow spaces, elevators, scrutinizing glances from others, height, animals, exams, etc.

Root cause:

Phobias like

  • Agoraphobia (claustrophobia)
  • claustrophobia
  • Social phobia
  • Isolated phobias

Measure:

  • If you want treatment, go to your family doctor, psychiatrist or psychotherapist

Self help:

  • Dealing calmly with fear triggers and avoiding them completely if possible

Fear, despair and confusion after a stressful event; often feeling "as if in shock"; often apathy, withdrawal, but also overactivity

Causes:

Measure:

  • Obtain professional help as soon as possible from your family doctor, psychotherapist, psychologist, psychiatrist or in crisis centers

Self help:

  • Relaxation procedure
  • Regular exercise

Fear and reverberation memories (Flashbacks) Weeks to months after a major threat or disaster

Root cause:

Measure:

  • In the next few days to the family doctor or psychiatrist

Persistent fear for no apparent reason with dejection; Feeling of inner emptiness; often lack of drive, listlessness

Causes:

Measure:

  • In the next few days to the family doctor or psychiatrist

Self help:


Fear of the unreal; Delusions, Hallucinations; abnormal body sensations

Causes:

Measure:

  • Immediately to the family doctor, psychiatrist or to the clinic if the fear occurs again and no dementia is known

Note:

  • There is considerable danger to oneself and others!

Your pharmacy recommends

Face fear.

The most important thing is to recognize whether your fears are excessive and inappropriate. These signs indicate that their fears require treatment:

  • The fear affects your life; that is, you don't do things even though you want to (or need to, such as going to the dentist) do them.
  • They withdraw to avoid anxiety-inducing situations.
  • You cover up your fear - or invent reasons to justify your avoidance behavior towards others.

If that applies to you, see your general practitioner or a resident psychotherapist within the next 8 days. If your fear is completely uncontrollable and extremely strong, go to a psychiatric emergency room. Actively counteract fear in everyday life. Do not avoid anxiety-inducing situations. Find community and community activities.

Strengthen body awareness.

Anyone who is afraid unconsciously tenses their muscles. In anxious situations, pay attention to whether your muscles in your forearm are tensing. If you notice this, actively relax your muscles. Realize that there is an end to all fear.

Phythotherapy.

For some people affected, taking passionflower, valerian (e.g. as a drop or tea) or St. John's wort helps to alleviate mild anxiety. However, some herbal medicines, especially St. John's wort, increase or weaken the effects of other medicines. You should therefore consult your pharmacist.

Authors

Dr. med. Arne Schäffler; Gisela Finke; in: Gesundheit heute, edited by Dr. med. Arne Schäffler. Trias, Stuttgart, 3rd edition (2014). Editorial processing: Dr. med. Tobias Höflein | last changed on at 09:56


Important note: This article has been written according to scientific standards and has been checked by medical professionals. The information communicated in this article can in no way replace professional advice in your pharmacy. The content cannot and must not be used to make independent diagnoses or to start therapy.