When is anxiety considered maladaptive? What developmental skills has the anxious person failed to accomplish? What kind of family did she live in?
Physiological anxiety and pathological anxiety
Anxiety, contrary to popular belief, may also have an adaptive function . In fact, it represents an attack-flight reaction , which causes the organism to act and therefore to defend itself in conditions of danger (real or perceived).
However, it is also true that when the physiological state of anxiety lasts too long, psychological, physical and behavioral disorders of various kinds can occur. In this second case, we will rather speak of pathological anxiety with a maladaptive (rather than adaptive) function because it becomes difficult to manage, being excessive.
Among the different pathological anxieties, we can distinguish:
- performance anxiety;
- judgment anxiety, such as social anxiety;
- specific anxiety, such as phobias
What unites the three types is loss of control .
As for cognitive factors, it is possible to trace the presence of specific patterns : ideas and thought patterns that lead the person to overestimate the danger and patterns of anxiety anticipation. Often the ability to identify what triggered the anxiety is then lost, manifesting it indiscriminately without understanding the causes. Other times, anxiety refers to a specific real object or well-defined situation (as in the case of phobias).
Generalized anxiety disorder
In recent years, the so-called generalized anxiety disorder ( GAD) has increased a lot. This leads us to think that society has changed: life is precarious, you cannot make big plans because you are afraid of what may happen (for example, many wonder if in the future they will be able to receive good retirement, or the youngest are wondering if they will be able to have children). In GAD there is no specific cause, we could say that this disorder arises because now life is a bit like that, based on precariousness that does not allow us to plan for the future. There are often people stuck in the present or anchored in the past, who can no longer…