Anxiety Disorders or Stress and anxiety share many of the same physical symptoms, it is difficult at times to differentiate between the two. Everyone experiences stress and anxiety at one time or another. The difference between them is that stress is a response to a threat in a situation. Anxiety is a reaction to stress.
In stress you experience heart pounding, sweating, breathing, palpitation so does with the anxiety but anxiety is a maladaptive reaction to an upcoming threatening situation. Initially, it was believed that stress is a negative bodily response to a threatening situation but latest researches showed that stress prepares you well, in fact believing that it will have a negative effect will make you more vulnerable. Stress contrary to anxiety makes you more productive, helps you perform well, improves health, vitality, facilitates learning and growth.
The question is when does your stress convert into Anxiety?
Stress develop over time and under pressure. But Dr. Elaine Ryan proposed that there Are three ways in which stress turned into anxiety or Anxiety Disorders.
The first one is the Acute Stressor, which is a response in reaction to a traumatic event, unpleasant experience and it usually generates high anxiety rapidly. It can overwhelm a person’s anxiety coping mechanism rapidly. Still, sudden abrupt unpleasant events can send even the anxiety-resistant person reeling.
After that comes Chronic Stress, which provokes a constant low level of anxiety. The person usually adapts to such issues while enduring them for a longer period but this effect their mental and emotional wellbeing. As the name suggested, chronic stress subsides over time.
After chronic stress comes Insidious Stress which stays, accumulated and stuffed and exhibit itself into severe anxiety disorder along with other psychological issues. Must Read Clinical Depression
Types of Anxiety Disorders are Excessive Fear, Anxiety and Behavioral Problems. Fear is a natural reaction to a new situation while anxiety is an overwhelming reaction to a perceived threat.
Anxiety Disorders are one of the most prevalent psychiatric disorders and people with anxiety are more sensitive to the facial expressions of other people.
According to diagnostic and statistical manual 5 (DSM 5), Anxiety disorders have been categorized into 8 different categorize based on the type of objects, situations, induced fear, anxiety, avoidance behavior, and cognitive ideation.
- Separation Anxiety Disorder: it is unavoidable fear or excessive anxiety concerning separation from home, significant individuals or attachment figures. The fear cause reluctance or persistent refusal to go out or away from home, school or work.
- Selective Mutism: consistent failure to speak in specific social situations not because of the lack of knowledge or spoken language but because of the fear or anxiety to speak in certain situations. The anxiety significantly interferes with the person’s social life
- Specific Phobia: as the name specifies, it is fear or excessive anxiety related to specific objects or situations like flying, height animals, injection, blood etc.
- Social Anxiety Disorder: Excessive fear or anxiety in one or more social situations due to fear of being scrutinized by others. The fear might be due to public speaking and performance, social interaction, and being observed.
- Panic Disorder: An unexpected surge or fear of having a panic attack. the person might be preoccupied with the fear of having an additional panic attack. The symptoms of panic attack might include palpitation, sweating, trembling, shortness of breath, choking, chest pain, dizziness, light-headed or faintness, de-realization, fear of dying
- Agoraphobia: It is a marked or unusual fear of being in any one of the five situations. It might be an open space (marketplace), enclosed place (malls, shops), crowd, public transport or outside the home.
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder: excessive worry that is uncontrollable, unavoidable and in almost every situation and circumstances.
- Substance/medication-induced anxiety disorder: anxiety symptoms or panic attack that is predominant due to medication or substance abuse.
- Genetic Disorders: Anxiety disorders are more prevalent in children whose parents have a history of anxiety disorders. Monozygotic twins are more likely to exhibit symptoms of anxiety than dizygotic.
- Neurophysiology Abnormalities – hippocampus in contextual fear conditioning
- Conditioned Leaning: Behaviorist believes that people learn fear from his environment. Neutral conditioned stimulus (CS) is paired with the aversive unconditioned stimulus (US). This pairing subsequently elicits a response known as Conditioned Response (CR). This CS will elicit a response even in the absence of the Unconditioned stimulus. Modeling: Barlow’s model described that the attention towards threat develops fear and anxiety
- Cognitive Perspectives: maladaptive assumptions and negative thought patterns will continue the cycle. Worry vicious cycle will result into an anxiety.
- The Sociocultural Perspectives believe that some fear are been reinforced and nurtured in the environment
Many of the anxiety disorders develop in childhood and tend to persist if not treated. Most occur more frequently in females than in males (approximately 2:1 ratio).
Management – Anxiety disorders if prevail for long can be treated using medication, Psychotherapy is helpful in dealing with anxiety disorders. Different behavioral strategies have been used successfully to manage anxiety disorders.
Systematic Desensitization – Wolpe developed this therapy, in this, you have to develop a hierarchy of fear situations and then systematically expose the patient to it. The main task in this is to develop a Fear hierarchy.
Covert desensitization – imaginary desensitizing oneself from the fear object
Treatment of Anxiety Disorders
Flooding – one of the therapeutic technique used to deal phobias, in which the client is exposed repeatedly to the feared object or situation
Graded Exposure – gradually exposing oneself to the feared stimuli
Cognitive working has to be done along with behavioral interventions. The maladaptive thought patterns treated using Cognitive therapy
Deep breathing and 16 Progressive muscle relaxation are few strategies that help to develop physical control. The idea of making the person learn these exercises is to train the body to remain in control during Stress situations even.
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