The evil embryo of a medical crisis, plus 5 highlights from ‘Vrye Weekblad’

Here’s what’s hot in the latest edition of the Afrikaans digital weekly

22 July 2022 - 06:40
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Anxiety has us in a choke hold.
Anxiety has us in a choke hold.
Image: 123RF

A medical crisis is brewing with anxiety as its evil embryo, psychologist Louis Awerbuck writes in this week’s edition of Vrye Weekblad.

In future, this period will be viewed as the point in which anxiety-related illnesses established a stranglehold on hummankind. 

The problem is not only psychological. Chronic stress is associated with hypertension, and anxiety-related symptoms are directly linked to heart problems, blood pressure, difficulty breathing and issues with digestion. The symptoms of chronic stress increase the risk of infection. The constant release of adrenaline and cortisol impacts the regulation of blood sugar and may cause diabetes.

Anxiety is behind most forms of depression, It is the persistent underminer of the mind.

It boils down to this: Anxiety sits in the body, not the head. This is hard for people to accept and individuals often resist treatment that entails anti-anxiety medicines. They would like to believe they only have to “fix” their heads or find perspective during a weekend away.

Unfortunately, it’s not practically possible to control anxiety with sheer willpower. Most of us are familiar with the fight or flight concept but struggle to accept the subjective experience of worry and stress is maintained in the same way. Any anxiety-related condition is in essence a fight or flight reaction that originated to protect you but became a habit. Therein is the key to understanding and managing any anxiety condition — your body “took over” to protect you and will carry on 24-hours a day whether it’s necessary or not. 

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Our ancestors in caves survived because they immediately produced adrenaline and cortisol when confronted by a predator. They could not anticipate future dangers. They could not worry about what was to come because their brains were too small. About an hour after the danger ended they would calm down. Most of the time their bodies “let them be”.

Now, however, modern humans think ahead. It’s no longer the immediate reality forcing us into fight or flight, but also any future eventuality. Because there is so much that can go wrong, our fight or flight reaction is activated more intensely and complexly than our ancestors’. We worry more, for longer and more deeply, and anxiety-related conditions are becoming permanent physiological causes of the collective “what if” question.

Humans have created a world that makes them increasingly fearful, but they haven’t developed the mechanism to manage this growing fear. 

Must-read articles in this week’s Vrye Weekblad

>> Browse the full July 22 edition

WHAT MANTASHE IS (OR ISN’T) THINKING | Even within the ANC there is discomfort with Gwede Mantashe’s intentions, Piet Croucamp writes, but the energy minister’s wish for competition for Eskom has to be viewed against the background of the party’s leadership contest in December. 

THE TRAUMA OF BEING TRANSGENDER | Max du Preez shares the trauma of people who feel uncomfortable with the sex they were classified as at birth.

FREE TO READ – LET THE CREATIVES BUILD | Quinton Adams says we won’t make progress without creative people coming up with and visualising new possibilities.

THE TELESCOPE OF LIES | One of the better books Tinus Horn has read was through a train window on the way to Scotland.

A NEW JOZI | Can Johannesburg rise from the ashes and shine like Paris or New York?

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