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Anxiety is an unpleasant emotional state that involves a complex combination of emotions that include fear, apprehension, and worry. It is often accompanied by physical sensations such as heart palpitations, nausea, chest pain, shortness of breath, or tension headache.

Anxiety is often described as having cognitive, somatic, emotional, and behavioral components (Seligman, Walker & Rosenhan, 2001). The cognitive component entails expectation of a diffuse and uncertain danger. Somatically the body prepares the organism to deal with threat (known as an emergency reaction): blood pressure and heart rate are increased, sweating is increased, bloodflow to the major muscle groups is increased, and immune and digestive system functions are inhibited. Externally, somatic signs of anxiety may include pale skin, sweating, trembling, and pupillary dilation. Emotionally, anxiety causes a sense of dread or panic and physically causes nausea, and chills. Behaviorally, both voluntary and involuntary behaviors may arise directed at escaping or avoiding the source of anxiety. These behaviors are frequent and often maladaptive, being most extreme in anxiety disorders. However, anxiety is not always pathological or maladaptive: it is a common emotion along with fear, anger, sadness, and happiness, and it has a very important function in relation to survival.


Anxiety disordersEdit

Main article: Anxiety disorder

A chronically recurring case of anxiety that can have a serious effect on a person's life and may be clinically diagnosed as an anxiety disorder. The most common are generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Many people who suffer from anxiety don't realize that it can be treated.

Treatment of anxietyEdit

Main article: Anxiety disorder - treatment

TheoriesEdit

Sigmund Freud recognized anxiety as a "signal of danger" and a cause of "defensive behavior". He believed we acquire anxious feelings through classical conditioning and traumatic experiences. [How to reference and link to summary or text]

We maintain anxiety through operant conditioning; when we see or encounter something associated with a previous traumatic experience, anxious feelings resurface. We feel temporarily relieved when we avoid situations which make us anxious, but this only increases anxious feelings the next time we are in the same position, and we will want to escape the situation again and therefore will not make any progress against the anxiety.

Types of anxietyEdit

Existential anxietyEdit

See more under existential crisis.

Theologians like Paul Tillich and psychologists like Sigmund Freud have characterized anxiety as the reaction to what Tillich called, "The trauma of nonbeing." That is, the human comes to realize that there is a point at which they might cease to be (die), and their encounter with reality becomes characterized by anxiety. Religion, according to both Tillich and Freud, then becomes a carefully crafted coping mechanism in response to this anxiety since they redefine death as the end of only the corporal part of human personal existence, assuming an immortal soul. What then becomes of this soul and through what criteria is the cardinal difference of various religious faiths.

Philosophical ruminations are a part of this condition, and this is part of obsessive-compulsive disorder. They are typically about sex and religion or death.

According to Viktor Frankl, author of Man's Search for Meaning, when faced with extreme mortal dangers the very basic of all human wishes is to find a meaning of life to combat this "trauma of nonbeing" as death is near and to succumb to it (even by suicide) seems like a way out.

Test anxietyEdit

Test anxiety is the uneasiness apprehension, or nervousness felt by students who have a fear of failing an exam. Students suffering from test anxiety may experience any of the following: the association of grades with personal worth, embarrassment by a teacher, taking a class that is beyond their ability, fear of alienation from parents or friends, time pressures, or feeling a loss of control. Emotional, cognitive, behavioral, and physical components can all be present in test anxiety. Sweating, dizziness, headaches, racing heartbeats, nausea, fidgeting, and drumming on a desk are all common. An optimal level of arousal is necessary to best complete a task such as an exam; however, when the anxiety or level of arousal exceeds that optimum, it results in a decline in performance. Because test anxiety hinges on fear of negative evaluation, debate exists as to whether test anxiety is itself a unique anxiety disorder or whether it is a specific type of social phobia.

Main article: Test anxiety

Stranger anxietyEdit

Main article: Stranger Anxiety

Stranger anxiety is not a phobia in the classic sense; rather it is a developmentally appropriate fear by young children of those who do not share a 'loved-one', caretaker or parenting role.

Anxiety in palliative careEdit

Some research has strongly suggested that treating anxiety in cancer patients improves their quality of life. The treatment generally consists of counseling, relaxation techniques or pharmacologically with benzodiazepines.

Neuroanatomy of anxietyEdit

Neural circuitry involving the amygdala and hippocampus is thought to underlie anxiety (Rosen & Schulkin, 1998).

Main article: Neuroanatomy of anxiety

Neurochemistry of anxietyEdit

Main article: Neurochemistry of anxiety

Animal models of anxietyEdit

Main article: Anxiety - Animal models



See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit


SourcesEdit

  • Rosen, J.B. & Schulkin, J. (1998): "From normal fear to pathological anxiety". Psychological Review. 105(2); 325-350.
  • Seligman, M.E.P., Walker, E.F. & Rosenhan, D.L. (2001). Abnormal psychology, (4th ed.) New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
  • Zald, D.H., Hagen, M.C. & Pardo, J.V. (2002). "Neural correlates of tasting concentrated quinine and sugar solutions". J. Neurophysiol. 87(2), 1068-75.
  • Zald, D.H. & Pardo, J.V. (1997). "Emotion, olfaction, and the human amygdala: amygdala activation during aversive olfactory stimulation." Proc Nat'l Acad Sci USA. 94(8), 4119-24.

External linksEdit



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