A review of research on anxiety: the physiological, neurological, and psychological aspects. Covered in brief are the definitions, classifications, symptomologies, and demographics of those affected. Prior studies and research are addressed from different points of view including inherent traits, biological basis, and environmental factors. Rationale and different treatment modalities from both the neurological and psychological perspectives are presented.
Because anxiety disorders are highly prevalent, routinely affecting millions of people worldwide, they are of great concern within the fields of medicine and psychology today. These psychiatric disorders are “characterized by unrealistic, unfounded fear and anxiety” (Carlson, 467) many of which appear to have a biological basis. Afflicting twice as many females as males as well of people of all age groups, these mental disorders are “characterized by various combinations of key features (which include) Irritability, fear, Insomnia, Nervousness, Tachycardia, Inability to concentrate, poor coping skills, Palpitation, Sweating, Agoraphobia, and Social Withdrawal” (Ashwani, Tarun, Ajay, & Anil, 2011) as well as feelings of worry, apprehension, tension, shortness of breath, dizziness, faintness, feelings of unreality, and expectation of impending disaster, (Carlson, 467). Overall, there is an abnormally high level of distress with psychological and physiological symptoms “manifested by hyper arousal of the central nervous system” (Ashawani, Tarun, Ajay, & Anil, 2011). These characteristics can be debilitating, interfering with work, school, personal relationships, and the ability to perform minor tasks, sometimes leaving people unable to leave their own homes. Classifications and Definitions
There are five main classifications of anxiety disorders. These include panic disorder (PD) which is characterized by recurrent “attacks of acute anxiety – periods of acute and remitting terror” that lasts for a variable length of time (Carlson, 467), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), which includes “pervasive and uncontrollable worrying and anxious feelings that last for at least six months” (Ashwani, Tarun, Ajay, & Anil, 2011), social anxiety disorder (SAD) which pertains to “a persistent fear of being exposed to the scrutiny of other people that leads to avoidance of social situations” (Carlson, 468), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which is described as “persistent symptoms of anxiety which occur after an extremely traumatic or life-threatening event” (Ashwani, Tarun, Ajay, & Anil, 2011), and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) marked by people who “have recurrent unwanted, and intrusive thoughts, images, or urges that cause marked anxiety and compulsions: repetitive behaviours or mental acts that are performed to reduce the anxiety generated by obsessions” (Ashwani, Tarun, Ajay, & Anil, 2011). Biological and Situational Factors
Typically marked by heightened anxiety, fear, and stress, Wade et al. chose to take a closer look at the single parent household in relation to anxiety disorders. With the increase in rates of divorce, the loss of one income to a household, the tasks typically shared by two people, the responsibility of two parents now put on one, and with single parent households typically being headed by women, this could explain why women tend to suffer in such greater numbers than men in this area of mental health. With more and more single fathers now heading the single parent household, this was helpful in studying possible causation as well as gender relation for anxiety disorders. In a study by Cooper et al., what they found was that “33.6% of lone fathers had one or more disorders of depression, panic disorder, specific phobia, obsessive compulsive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder, compared with 13.3% of partnered fathers, 28.4% of lone mothers, and 16.0% of partnered...
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