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Opinion | Opinião

STATE OF ALERT

Generalized anxiety disorder is often described as being in a permanent state of alert. The heart rate rises, adrenaline is in full throttle, all cells ready to fight and escape for survival. In healthy individuals, this state is transitory and activated only in the face of danger. People with generalized anxiety disorder have this state activated all day during common situations. Everything is taken as a matter of life or death.

All this happens on a subconscious level. Emotions take control of everything, regardless of the constructs of rationality. This is the main feature people fail to understand about mental illness.

A brave person hides emotions in the face of danger and takes action to heroic deeds. Individuals with generalized anxiety disorder feel they are facing danger all the time and are constantly hiding those emotions to take every single action. It is a life felt as martyrdom, no matter how simple and common each task is felt to healthy people. This behavior is often seen as weakness, laziness, irresponsibility, selfishness and arrogance especially when tasks are not fulfilled in due time. Imagine the effect of making such accusations to someone whose emotions tell all the time one is being brave.

No wonder suicide is an option now and then.

Judgemental people are the most toxic to individuals with generalized anxiety disorder, especially when they start giving advice. The intensity of the state of alert goes sky high and suicide becomes a more viable option.

The only valid way to give advice and really help someone with generalized anxiety disorder is to make no judgement and give all the love it takes to make a child feel safe. The state of alert was learned in childhood, before the acquisition of consciousness, or deployed by trauma. Only true generous caresses can make the feeling of danger go away.