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Anxiety
is a common feeling that everyone experiences in their lives whether it be
because we are giving a speech, or driving for the first time, or sometimes
taking a test. Unfortunately, this feeling of uneasiness is at its most intense
state and it does not ever go away for some people and this is what we call an
anxiety disorder.  An anxiety disorder is
known to be continuously distressing and individuals adapt maladaptive
behaviors to decrease their anxiety symptoms. 
Maladaptive behaviors are behaviors in which a person will develop in
response to avoiding an anxious situation. There are a few disorders that fall
under the broader category of anxiety disorders.  These include generalized anxiety disorder,
panic disorder, phobias, posttraumatic stress disorder and obsession compulsive
disorder.  Anxiety is a very powerful
feeling that can be extremely hard to overcome. 
There is a vast variety of things that people worry about and sometimes
it is hard to pinpoint these worries so we can treat them.

There
are many contributing factors that are involved in obtaining and treating
anxieties that we will explain in this paper. 
Studies have shown some effective ways in reducing the effects of an individual’s
anxiety disorder.  Anxiety happens in all
ages and sometimes this disorder can occur following a tragic event or just run
in a person’s genes. 

 

            Generalized Anxiety Disorder is a
psychological disorder in which a person worries excessively and continually
about many different things.  They could
be reasonable situations or situations in which others would see as normal.  For example, someone may constantly worry
about money and what could happen to it while it is in the bank, but also worry
that keeping it at home is unsafe. People that have disorder will show signs of
being jittery and on edge.  An individual
with this disorder may feel like they have no control over their anxieties,
even when they seem out of the ordinary.  Sometimes, these individuals may have trouble
with concentration on one thing because they think about all their worries at
the same time such as financial issues, relationships, school, work and family.
 They will sometimes over worry about
things or they may expect the worst to happen in situations and they know this,
but cannot control it.  With this
disorder, it can be very hard to identify the cause of the constant worries or
their symptoms which makes it difficult to avoid and treat, however there are
many options for treatment.  If left
untreated, in which studies show that many people do, (book source) it may lead
to long term physical problems, like high blood pressure, or more psychological
problems, such as depression. (behavioral acviation source) Studies show that
this disorder shows up more in women than in men. (book source)

 

            Another type of psychological
disorder is a panic disorder.  This is
when the anxiety that one feels suddenly escalates into a panic attack.  A panic attack is a feeling of fear that
something very bad is going to happen. 
During panic attacks, one may feel irregular heartbeat, sweating, shortness
of breath, chest pains, dizziness or even fainting. (book source) Our
interpretations and expectations factors contributing to anxiety and reactions.
For example, whether we panic in the dark depends on whether we interpret the
dark as something scary being in the dark or just the room with the lights
off.  Misinterpretations can cause people
to think irrationally and then causes them to panic.  Although they may be aware of these
irrational and intrusive thoughts, they cannot control them and they start to
feel helpless. (fear of unknown) (book) Panic attacks are scary and one who
experiences intense anxiety may feel anxious about the thought of getting
another panic attack.  When this happens,
the person may start to panic and cause another panic attack just by the
thought of having one.  This is related
to agoraphobia, which is known as the fear if experiencing anxiety.

 

            Phobias is known as an intense
fear.  People with phobias have an
irrational fear that takes over them and causes avoidance of the object and any
related situation. Agoraphobia may cause people to avoid an everyday situation
such as simply being outside, being in a crowd or riding a bus due to the
anxieties they feel during these situations. 
The phobia and everyday situation do not necessarily have to be related for
a person to make a connection and therefore avoid it.  Phobias relate to social anxiety disorder,
previously known as social phobia.  This
is when a person may avoid social situations in fear of being ridiculed and
judged by everyone else.  This may cause
someone to avoid speaking up in class or in a group of people, eating out with
friends and going to parties.  Although
one may want to be included and have the anxiety of being pushed out of their
friends group, they cannot bring themselves to go out with their friends
because of their social phobia.  Social
anxiety disorder is common in children and is commonly untreated due to the
lack of reports.  This can contribute to
long term risk of adult social anxiety and other mental health difficulties.//  The behaviors that result from social anxiety
are very unhealthy and can cause more mental health issues.  Treatments for social anxiety focuses more on
changing interpretation bias, which refers to how they interpret situations
that can go either way, positive or negative. 
People who experience social anxiety are more likely to interpret things
in a negative way.

Source
1: Fear of the unknown

 

In
(source) The main idea is that fear of the unknown is the underlying fear to
many other more common fears. The example from (this source) is given where it
shows that mushrooms to be a greater threat to humans than spiders and
snakes.  This is a basic example where of
course, we know that the mushrooms do not move as spiders and snakes do, but it
can be shown that young children may have a fear of snakes and spiders because
their features are very unfamiliar.  They
have a different skin, body shape and movements.  It is studied that the amount of unknowns of
a particular thing or event can be related to the amount of anxiety one feels
in that situation.  There are key
elements of anxiety that are referred to as fundamental elements of all fears
throughout this (source).  Anxiety
sensitivity refers to fearing the consequences associated with anxiety
sensations, such as an irregular heartbeat. 
Fear of negative evaluation refers to the fear that others will judge
and this is a foundation of social anxiety. 
Fear of injury or illness is the fear of physical harm and consequences
and this is the foundation of specific phobias and pain-related anxiety.  These are considered the fundamental elements
because other fears can be logically related to these at a more generalized
understanding. (source)

 

There
are many types of therapy that are associated with anxiety disorders.

 

Sigmund
Freud’s psychoanalytic theory was created to bring out patient’s repressed
feelings and ideas all the way back to their childhood.  The goal of this theory is to help reduce
anxiety by making patients conscious of these repressed feelings in order to
gain more insight of their disorder and where it comes from.  This was the foundation of therapy for
psychological disorders.  This therapy is
aimed to help us fully understand ourselves. 
There a few techniques used by the therapist during this
psychoanalysis.  First, they notice
resistance when the patient is speaking. 
They will pay attention to all the details that the patient is leaving
out when talking about a tough or threatening situation, dream or idea.  They then will interpret the feelings,
resistance and observational behaviors to gain insights of the patient’s
disorder.  They also notice the
transference of a patient’s emotions. 
This refers to how they transfer their emotions in therapy from an unconscious
feeling from their childhood onto the therapist.

 

Humanistic
therapy focuses on the present feelings and the idea of client-centered
therapy.  This is when the therapist does
not give their own insight and interpretations, but rather they use active
listening.  Active listening is echoing,
restating and clarifying the feelings that the client is expressing.  The therapist lets the patient, or in this
case, the client, become aware and take responsibility for their own present
feelings.  This therapy is a focus more
on the now and future rather than the past as in psychoanalysis. It is mainly
to help the bring out the feeling of self-fulfillment through becoming aware
and accepting of their anxieties. Instead of being based on hidden and
unconscious feelings, we focus on the conscious feelings in a healthy way. 

 

Behavior
therapy is a therapy involving learning principles that are used to get rid of
anxious or self-destructive behaviors.  The
reason we use this type of therapy is because we believe some anxious behaviors
and feelings are learned at a young age, such as phobias and in turn creates
unhealthy behaviors.  We learn at a young
age to be afraid of snakes or spiders and that is what causes our phobia; a
phobia is a learned behavior.  Cognitive therapy
is an approach that teaches people new ways of thinking by proposing the idea
that other thoughts can be put in between events and our reactions to those
events.  It focuses on the negative
thoughts that cause the feeling of anxiety and self-destruction.  Cognitive behavioral therapy is a popular
therapy that combines both behavior therapy and cognitive therapy. This therapy
is so popular due to its ability to combine thoughts and behaviors.  The idea is to change to positive thoughts
from negative thoughts since they produce negative reactions, like the feelings
of fear and anxiousness. 

 

Conditioning
is learning behaviors and emotions in response to bad things that have happened
and are related to those behaviors.  Usually
these bad things are unpredictable and cannot be controlled.  For example, if you had a near drowning
experience in the ocean, the fear may generalize into being afraid to swim at
all, in any type or depth of water, therefore water is or conditioned stimuli.  The conditioned stimuli are the object or
event that onsets the feeling of anxiety or panic.  Research shows that classical conditioning
can connect our fear responses to other neutral objects, such as connecting the
dark to the fear of getting attacked. 
Stimulus generalization is a type of conditioning that connects the
experience of one fear to other similar things to also cause them to be
fearful.  This is where the onset of
phobias occur since a person will generalize one single event into a phobia.  Reinforcement of a phobia is once it is
developed and generalized, it is maintained through repeated maladaptive
behaviors. This is a part of operant conditioning in which a person learns that
a certain behavior, such as avoiding groups of people altogether, reduces their
social anxiety.  Operant conditioning is
learning a behavior based on positive outcomes. 
This can temporarily help their anxious feelings; however this can be
harmful and unhealthy long-term.  Avoidance
can minimize distress at that moment, but it causes impairment and continuous symptoms
for the present and future (Bevairoial source 4) There are less opportunities
for one to come familiar with reinforcers from the outside world that can help
them when they avoid all possible situations. 

Counterconditioning
is  when a therapist pairs the trigger
stimulus with a new kind of response, like relaxation.  This is used because it is shown that
relaxing and panicking cannot happen at the same time, so essentially, we can
replace panic with relaxation.  There are
different ways we can do this but for an example, we could compare the panic of
heights and the pleasure of listening to music. 
If music relaxes an individual, then they can replace the panic of
heights when flying in the plane with music in order to relax. A way that we
could get rid of this fear of heights is by using exposure therapy.  In this therapy we would be gradually exposed
to heights and at the same time we would listen to music.  Soon enough, the panic can be, in fact,
replaced by relaxation.  One way we might
help relax is through progressive relaxation in which we focus on relaxing one
muscle group at a time until eventually all the muscle groups can be relaxed at
once.

 

Closing
: Stigma behavior avoidance and stigma

 

Behavioral
activation strategies are to help decrease the overall avoidance of situations
due to the anxiety felt by them and promote more healthy and self-regulated behaviors.   Some
strategies shown to help anxiety include self-monitoring, activity scheduling,
reducing avoidance strategies and replacing those with different more healthy
actions.  (Avoidance and behavior source
4) Further studies show that there is not enough help-seeking behavior.  It is shown that anxiety is one of the most
common mental health problems in adolescents and young adults but there is a
low rate of help-seeking behavior in these individuals.  In (source) they study the negative beliefs and
attitudes that affect these behaviors. 
The idea is that we need to reduce perceived, personal stigmas in order
to increase the number of reports for help. 
Perceived stigmas refer to the negative perception of what other people
think and feel about their condition. Personal stigmas refer to one’s personal
attitude about a condition.  It is
important to reduce these stigmas because delayed help-seeking can result in
more mental health difficulties in the future. 
(source) Using medications in order to help the symptoms of anxiety is
common, however, therapy is also needed when treating anxiety due to all of the
factors that contribute to it.  It is
important to understand them and control them rather than just treat the
symptoms and only feel like everything is better.