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Psychological Disorders > Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety Disorders

Definition of Anxiety Disorders


Explaining Anxiety Disorders
Phobic Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Panic Disorder
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Psychological Disorders > Anxiety Disorders

Definition of Anxiety Disorders


Anxiety disorders are dysfunctional responses to anxiety-inducing situations.The
difference between normal anxiety and anxiety disorder is the latter's ability to
cause such severe distress as to interfere with someone's ability to lead a normal
life.
Anxiety disorder is a term that covers a number of disorders, including
generalized anxiety disorder, phobias, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive
disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety disorder.
Though symptoms vary, general symptoms include feelings of panic, fear or
uneasiness, uncontrollable and obsessive thoughts, flashbacks of trauma,
problems sleeping, nightmares, shortness of breath, nausea, muscle tension,
dizziness, palpitations, dry mouth, and cold or sweaty hands.
PTSD Following Combat

Psychological Disorders > Anxiety Disorders

Explaining Anxiety Disorders


Anxiety disorders are dysfunctional responses to anxiety-inducing situations.The
difference between normal anxiety and anxiety disorder is the latter's ability to
cause such severe distress as to interfere with someone's ability to lead a normal
life.
The hormonal response to anxiety has evolved to help humans react to
dangers.It has been shown that those with low levels of anxiety have a greater
risk of death than those with average levels.This is because the absence of fear
can lead to injury or death.
Neurologically, low levels of GABA (a neurotransmitter that reduces activity in the
central nervous system) contribute to anxiety.Severe anxiety and depression can
be induced by sustained alcohol abuse, which in most cases, decreases with
prolonged abstinence.
Anxiety disorders can arise in response to life stresses such as financial worries
or chronic physical illness.

Anxiety and Stress

Psychological Disorders > Anxiety Disorders

Phobic Disorder
A specific phobia is an intense fear of a specific object or situation, such as
snakes, heights, or flying.Between 5% and 12% of the population worldwide
suffer from phobic disorders, making it the single largest category of anxiety
disorders.
There are five categories of phobias: (1) environment phobias, such as lightning
or tornadoes, (2) animal phobias, including insects, (3) blood-injury phobias, such
as blood or getting a shot, (4) situational phobias, such as elevators or bridges,
and (5) other phobias not otherwise specified.
Any phobia may produce a state of panic when the sufferer is confronted with the
phobic object/situation.A wide variety of physical symptoms are experienced,
such as nausea, increased heartbeat, dizziness and sweaty palms.
The hormonal response to fear has evolved as a benefit, as it helps humans
react to dangers.Researchers in evolutionary medicine believe this adaptation of
phobias allows humans to realize there is a potential threat and to act accordingly
in order to ensure greatest possibility of protection.

Social Phobia

Psychological Disorders > Anxiety Disorders

Generalized Anxiety Disorder


GAD is different from normal worry in that the anxiety is prolonged (lasts for over
6 months), and the level of worry is out of proportion to the risk.These thoughts
can be described as catastrophizing, or jumping to the worst possible conclusion.
GAD often interferes with daily functioning, as individuals suffering GAD typically
anticipate disaster, and they are overly concerned about everyday matters such
as health issues, money, death, family problems, friendship problems,
interpersonal relationship problems, or work difficulties.
Treating GAD can be quite difficult, partially due to highly subjective diagnostic
criteria.When analyzed for diagnostic consistency, it was found that some
aspects of the criteria, specifically the "significant distress" category, have poor
inter-rater reliability.
Another challenge in treating GAD is its high comorbidity with other disorders,
such as depression and substance abuse.It is difficult in therapy to make
progress on both or all of the issues simultaneously.The best treatment thus far is
cognitive-behavioral therapy, or CBT.

Excessive Worry

Psychological Disorders > Anxiety Disorders

Panic Disorder
Sufferers of panic disorder often feel fine one minute, and yet the next may feel
totally out of control.Panic attacks produce very real physical symptoms, from a
rapid increase in heartbeat to a churning stomach sensation.
These brief attacks of intense terror and apprehension are often marked by
trembling, shaking, confusion, dizziness, nausea, and/or difficulty
breathing.Attacks can be triggered by stress, fear, or even exercise; the specific
cause is not always apparent.
Although the genetic link is clear, 75% those diagnosed with panic do not have a
close relative with the disorder environmental factors, such as moving out of the
family home, getting married, starting a new job or having a baby often precede
the onset of panic disorder.
Since panic attacks can occur unexpectedly, they can become a cause of
ongoing worry and avoidance; sufferers start to dread the next attack, and quickly
enter into a cycle of living in fear of fear'.Panic disorder exhibits comorbidity with
smoking, caffeine and alcohol consumption.

Symptoms of Panic Attacks

Psychological Disorders > Anxiety Disorders

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
People with OCD are plagued by constant thoughts or fears that cause them to
perform certain rituals or routines.The disturbing thoughts are called obsessions,
and the rituals are called compulsions.
The phrase obsessivecompulsive is commonly used to indicate someone who is
excessively meticulous, perfectionistic, or otherwise fixated.However, a person
who exhibits these traits does not necessarily have OCD (a debilitating disorder),
and may have no clinical condition at all.
Symptoms of OCD include excessive washing or cleaning; repeated checking;
extreme hoarding; preoccupation with sexual, violent or religious thoughts;
relationship-related obsessions; aversion to particular numbers; and nervous
rituals.
Both psychological and biological factors play a role in causing the
disorder.Evolutionary psychology indicates that some obsessions/compulsions
may have been advantageous, such as compulsive hygiene, checking the fire in
the hearth, or monitoring the environment for enemies.
Behavioral therapy (BT), cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and medications
(such as SSRIs) should be regarded as first-line treatments for OCD.The specific
technique used in BT/CBT is exposure and ritual prevention, which involves
gradually learning to not perform the ritual.

Compulsion

Psychological Disorders > Anxiety Disorders

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder


Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that may develop
following exposure to any one of a variety of traumatic events; the event may be
witnessed rather than experienced, and even learning about it may be sufficient if
the persons involved are family members or close friends.
Causes of the symptoms of PTSD are experiencing or witnessing of a stressful
event involving death, serious injury or such threat to the individual or others in a
situation in which the individual felt intense fear, horror, or powerlessness.
The diagnosis may be given when a group of symptoms such as disturbing
recurring flashbacks, avoidance or numbing of memories of the event, and
hyperarousal (high levels of anxiety) continue for more than a month after the
traumatic event.
A number of psychotherapies have demonstrated usefulness in the treatment of
PTSD and other trauma-related problems.The most helpful programs are
cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), cognitive therapy (CT), exposure therapy,
and stress inoculation training (SIT).

PTSD and Combat Exposure

Psychological Disorders

Key terms
agoraphobia The fear of wide open spaces, crowds, or uncontrolled social conditions.
agoraphobia The fear of wide open spaces, crowds, or uncontrolled social conditions.
amygdala The region of the brain, located in the medial temporal lobe, believed to play a key role in the emotions, such as fear
and pleasure, in both animals and humans.
anxiety an unpleasant state of mental uneasiness, nervousness, apprehension, and obsession or concern about some
uncertain event.
anxiety an unpleasant state of mental uneasiness, nervousness, apprehension, and obsession or concern about some
uncertain event.
benzodiazepine a psychoactive drug that is, in general, safe and effective in the short term, though cognitive impairments,
aggression or behavioral disinhibition occasionally occur.
cognitive therapy a type of therapy that seeks to help the patient overcome difficulties by identifying and changing
dysfunctional thinking and emotional responses.
comorbidity The presence of one or more disorders (or diseases) in addition to a primary disease or disorder.
DSM a manual that provides a common language and standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders.
Egodystonic Thoughts and behaviors (dreams, impulses, compulsions, desires) that are in conflict, or dissonant, with a
person's ideal self-image.
Egosyntonic Behaviors, values, and feelings that are in harmony with or acceptable to the needs and goals of the ego, or
consistent with one's ideal self-image.
inter-rater reliability The degree of agreement among raters; gives a score of how much homogeneity, or consensus, there is in
the ratings given by judges.

Psychological Disorders

panic Overpowering fright, often affecting groups of people or animals.


panic attack A sudden period of intense anxiety, mounting physiological arousal, fear, stomach problems and discomfort that
are associated with a variety of somatic and cognitive symptoms.
panic disorder an anxiety disorder characterized by recurring severe periods of intense fear or apprehension that are of
sudden onset (panic attacks)
phobia An irrational or obsessive fear or anxiety, usually of or about something particular.
physical integrity The inviolability of the physical body; emphasises on the importance of personal autonomy and the selfdetermination of human beings over their own bodies.
serotonin An indoleamine neurotransmitter (5-hydroxytryptamine) that is involved in depression and is crucial in maintaining a
sense of well-being and security.
SSRI Short for Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitors; a class of medications typically used as antidepressants in the
treatment of depression, anxiety disorders, and some personality disorders.
stress inoculation training (SIT) a cognitive-behavioral approach; provides people with added psychological resilience against
the effects of stress through a program of managed successful exposure to stressful situations.

Psychological Disorders

What is the difference between generalized anxiety disorder


(GAD) and phobias?
A) GAD causes anxiety and worry; phobias result in fear and paranoia.

B) A phobia is a kind of GAD.


C) GAD does not focus on specific objects or situations; phobias are
stimulus or situation specific.
D) GAD occurs across groups; phobias are person-specific.

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Psychological Disorders

What is the difference between generalized anxiety disorder


(GAD) and phobias?
A) GAD causes anxiety and worry; phobias result in fear and paranoia.

B) A phobia is a kind of GAD.


C) GAD does not focus on specific objects or situations; phobias are
stimulus or situation specific.
D) GAD occurs across groups; phobias are person-specific.

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Psychological Disorders

What genetic mechanism has been heavily implicated in the


development of several psychological disorders, including
anxiety?
A) All of these answers.

B) Serotonin.

C) Glutamate.

D) GABA.

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Psychological Disorders

What genetic mechanism has been heavily implicated in the


development of several psychological disorders, including
anxiety?
A) All of these answers.

B) Serotonin.

C) Glutamate.

D) GABA.

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Psychological Disorders

What is the role of the amygdala in the development of anxiety?


A) It produces GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that calms the central
nervous system.
B) It assists in decisions about whether or not to make an action that
might result in a reward.
C) It processes sensory information and communicates threat importance
to the rest of the brain.
D) It has a calming effect, particularly when the individual is experiencing
other life stresses.

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Psychological Disorders

What is the role of the amygdala in the development of anxiety?


A) It produces GABA, an inhibitory neurotransmitter that calms the central
nervous system.
B) It assists in decisions about whether or not to make an action that
might result in a reward.
C) It processes sensory information and communicates threat importance
to the rest of the brain.
D) It has a calming effect, particularly when the individual is experiencing
other life stresses.

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Psychological Disorders

How might anxiety be evolutionarily advantageous?


A) Individuals who are not afraid of dangerous stimuli are more likely to
bear brave children.
B) Anxiety is culturally bound and only effects survival within, not between
cultures.
C) Anxiety is restrictive upon survival by debilitating people with fears that
are not real threats.
D) Fear primes humans to respond quickly to threats, which protects
them from harm.

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Psychological Disorders

How might anxiety be evolutionarily advantageous?


A) Individuals who are not afraid of dangerous stimuli are more likely to
bear brave children.
B) Anxiety is culturally bound and only effects survival within, not between
cultures.
C) Anxiety is restrictive upon survival by debilitating people with fears that
are not real threats.
D) Fear primes humans to respond quickly to threats, which protects
them from harm.

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Psychological Disorders

Which of the following is NOT a symptom of a phobia?

A) Marked or persistent fear of the trigger

B) Avoidance of the specific trigger for the phobia

C) The phobia interferes with the person's normal routine

D) The person does not believe the fear is irrational.

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Psychological Disorders

Which of the following is NOT a symptom of a phobia?

A) Marked or persistent fear of the trigger

B) Avoidance of the specific trigger for the phobia

C) The phobia interferes with the person's normal routine

D) The person does not believe the fear is irrational.

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Psychological Disorders

Why did Freud refer to generalized anxiety disorder as "free


floating?"
A) Because its effects are usually temporary and can cease before
detection.
B) Because it does not only affect individuals but can migrate between
members of a community.
C) Because it does not have a definite trigger or starting point from which
to identify and treat it.
D) Because it is not connected to genetics (i.e. biology) or upbringing (i.e.
nurture conditions).

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Psychological Disorders

Why did Freud refer to generalized anxiety disorder as "free


floating?"
A) Because its effects are usually temporary and can cease before
detection.
B) Because it does not only affect individuals but can migrate between
members of a community.
C) Because it does not have a definite trigger or starting point from which
to identify and treat it.
D) Because it is not connected to genetics (i.e. biology) or upbringing (i.e.
nurture conditions).

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Psychological Disorders

Which of the following is NOT a key symptom of GAD?

A) Symptoms last at least 6 months.

B) The level of worry is not proportionate to the risk involved.

C) The worry interferes with a person's daily functioning.

D) The anxiety felt is usually at a low level.

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Psychological Disorders

Which of the following is NOT a key symptom of GAD?

A) Symptoms last at least 6 months.

B) The level of worry is not proportionate to the risk involved.

C) The worry interferes with a person's daily functioning.

D) The anxiety felt is usually at a low level.

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Psychological Disorders

Why does panic disorder sometimes cause behavioral changes


over a sustained period time?
A) Symptoms of panic disorder cause physiological change requiring
behavior modification.
B) Since panic attacks can occur unexpectedly, they can become a cause
of ongoing worry and avoidance.
C) None of these answers.
D) Panic disorder only manifests as intense and short-term anxiety that
occurs unexpectedly.

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Psychological Disorders

Why does panic disorder sometimes cause behavioral changes


over a sustained period time?
A) Symptoms of panic disorder cause physiological change requiring
behavior modification.
B) Since panic attacks can occur unexpectedly, they can become a cause
of ongoing worry and avoidance.
C) None of these answers.
D) Panic disorder only manifests as intense and short-term anxiety that
occurs unexpectedly.

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Psychological Disorders

One of the main features of panic disorder is the panic attack,


which ____ .
A) All of these

B) is marked by intense terror and apprehension.

C) may occur without an apparent trigger.


D) produces real physical symptoms, such as rapid increase in heartbeat,
dizziness, nausea, etc.

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Psychological Disorders

One of the main features of panic disorder is the panic attack,


which ____ .
A) All of these

B) is marked by intense terror and apprehension.

C) may occur without an apparent trigger.


D) produces real physical symptoms, such as rapid increase in heartbeat,
dizziness, nausea, etc.

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Psychological Disorders

Why do OCD sufferers engage in logically unnecessary, repetitive


behavior?
A) Because it is an established form of cognitive behavioral therapy.
B) Because they hope that ritualized actions will lower or allow them to
control their anxiety.
C) Because they believe such actions to be rational solutions to everyday
problems.
D) Because they have lower-than-average intelligence and cannot
problem-solve rationally.

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Psychological Disorders

Why do OCD sufferers engage in logically unnecessary, repetitive


behavior?
A) Because it is an established form of cognitive behavioral therapy.
B) Because they hope that ritualized actions will lower or allow them to
control their anxiety.
C) Because they believe such actions to be rational solutions to everyday
problems.
D) Because they have lower-than-average intelligence and cannot
problem-solve rationally.

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Psychological Disorders

Which of the following includes the correct diagnostic criteria for


post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?
A) Experiencing nightmares; insomnia; irritability and anxiety for at least
one month.
B) Trauma followed by intrusive recollections, numbing and hyper-arousal
symptoms for at least a month.
C) Trauma followed by intrusive recollections, numbing and hyperarousal
symptoms.
D) Emotional trauma, intrusive recollections, numbing and hyperarousal
symptoms for at least a month.

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Psychological Disorders

Which of the following includes the correct diagnostic criteria for


post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?
A) Experiencing nightmares; insomnia; irritability and anxiety for at least
one month.
B) Trauma followed by intrusive recollections, numbing and hyper-arousal
symptoms for at least a month.
C) Trauma followed by intrusive recollections, numbing and hyperarousal
symptoms.
D) Emotional trauma, intrusive recollections, numbing and hyperarousal
symptoms for at least a month.

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