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Anxiety Disorders’ Impacts and Treatments

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common psychological issues of the contemporary world. Among the citizens of the United States, at least one of four people is likely to fit the profile for one or another anxiety disorder once during their lifetime (Shear, Cloitre, Pine & Ross 2005). The research of anxiety disorders, their assessment, and treatment generally is developing rather fast and involved a huge number of professionals working on it every day all around the world.

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At the same time, contemporary life exposes modern individuals to a great number of societal, psychological, and developmental influences that increase the risk of anxiety disorders. This aspect makes anxiety disorders a serious public health issue of the present. This paper explores five various articles considering the sides of anxiety disorders, their impacts on genders, the reasons for their persistence, effective ways of treatment, and the quality of life of the individuals suffering from these disorders.

Shear, Cloitre, Pine and Ross (2005) maintain that anxiety disorders are dangerous for both men and women, yet females are twice more likely to become exposed to such anxiety disorders as agoraphobia, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, OCD, and generalized anxiety disorder. Schneier (2006) mentions that disorders of this kind most typically occur during one’s early teenage years and then become chronic, but Shear, Cloitre, Pine, and Ross (2005) note that people of all ages may develop this problem, and women are especially vulnerable.

Hofmann and Smits (2008) conducted research considering the significance of anxiety disorder and established that they represent the prevalent group of mental disorders “with a 12-month and lifetime prevalence rates of 18.1% and 28.8%, respectively”. This way, the authors agree that anxiety disorders are among the most dangerous psychological issues for a contemporary society where every individual starting with early teenage is exposed to the risk of developing a chronic anxiety disorder.

What makes anxiety disorder especially harmful is its influence on the quality of life of the affected individuals. First of all, Scheier (2006) notes that the majority of persons searching for help with this disorder reports having symptoms for years, sometimes decades, which in most cases causes depressions, alcohol, and substance abuse. Shear, Cloitre, Pine, and Ross (2005) share this idea and add that anxiety disorder often comes along with excessive use of healthcare resources and suicidal behaviors, which significantly increase morbidity rates. Olatunji, Cisler, and Tolin (2006) notice the costs of such disorders which are rather high.

This fact impacts the affected individuals in two ways: they either have to spend a lot of money trying to cope with their issue or cannot afford the treatment and continue to suffer without help. Both of these ways significantly reduce the quality of life of people with anxiety disorders. Schneier (2006) explains that due to phobias persons with anxieties suffer from, they have to avoid participating in various important meetings, gatherings.

They cannot speak publically, be socially active; as a result, their professional and academic achievements are low. Shear, Cloitre, Pine, and Ross (2005) characterize this as “functional impairment.” Given all of these disturbing factors, it is impressive how many cases of anxiety disorders remain untreated.

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Speaking about the existing treatments for this problem, scientists recognize therapy, pharmaceutical approach, and complementary or alternative treatment. Besides, various medical trials are conducted to research new possible cures. There are also low-cost treatment options for individuals who cannot afford expensive therapists. Given all the ways and approaches mentioned above, cognitive-behavioral therapy compliments with medications are viewed as the most efficient treatment for anxiety disorders today.

According to the study by Hofmann and Smits (2008), cognitive-behavioral therapy is less effective for patients with depressive syndrome and severe anxieties but more effective for individuals with acute stress disorder and OCD. This assumes the difference in mechanisms of these disorders. Discussing this, Clark (2009) explains that cognitive theorists determined that anxiety disorders are caused by mistaken beliefs of the patients concerning the danger of certain stimuli. This way, in order to address a disorder, the patient needs to be able to view the seemingly dangerous influences differently and notice that they are not as severe.

Normally, irrational fears are self-corrected when rationalized. For example, as a child, a person might be scared of spiders, but growing up, they realize that logically, there is no danger coming from most spiders we encounter in our homes, so the fear goes away. Social phobias work the same way; people who were pressured and mocked in childhood develop fears of negative evaluation.

The problem is that in adult patients with anxiety disorders, self-correction does not happen. Safety seeking behavior is viewed as one of the reasons for this phenomenon. A search of safety makes an anxious individual avoid certain events that only confirm their irrational belief about the connection between their fear and what may happen if they do not listen to this fear (Clark 2009).

In conclusion, anxiety disorders are very common in the contemporary world, with a lot of societal and developmental pressures. The ongoing research and trials designed to find an effective treatment for this kind of disorder for now recognized cognitive-behavioral therapy complemented by medications as the best option. The researchers agree that these disorders significantly reduce the quality of life of the affected individuals making them functionally limited, depressed, and suicidal. The existing treatments are rather expensive, but there are low-cost alternatives.

Reference List

Clark, D. M. (2009). Anxiety disorders: why they persist and how to treat them. Behavior Research and Therapy, 37, 5-27.

Hofmann, S. G., & Smits, J. A. (2008). Cognitive-behavioral therapy for adult anxiety disorders: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. The Journal of clinical psychiatry, 69(4), 621-632.

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Olatunji, B. O., Cisler, J. M., & Tolin, D. F. (2006). Quality of life in the anxiety disorders: A meta-analytic review. Clinical Psychology Review, 27, 572–581

Schneier, F. R., M.D. (2006). Social anxiety disorder. The New England Journal of Medicine, 355(10), 1029-1036. Web.

Shear, M. K., Cloitre, M. C., Pine, D. P., & Ross, J. R. (2005). Anxiety Disorders in Women: Setting a research agenda. Web.

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