Various theories have attempted to give reasons for why people develop anxiety disorders. Anxiety disorders have proven to be the most common mental disorders in the world today. There are various perspectives through which those disorders can be analyzed. These include the psychodynamic perspective, behavioral perspective, cognitive perspective, and the biological perspective. These perspectives can be used in treating anxiety disorders.
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The Psychodynamic Perspective
This perspective asserts that all children experience anxiety and apply their ego defense mechanisms to help control anxiety. Most psychodynamic theorists believe that the parent-child relationship can cause anxiety in children. Repression is a defense mechanism that most people use to handle Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). They also agree that higher levels of anxiety can be noted in children who got punished for expressing their id impulses.
According to this perspective, there are several therapies that can be used. The perspective, like others, uses general techniques in treating the disorder. These techniques include free association and therapist interpretation of transference, resistance, as well as dreams.
Treatment of GAD
Here the approach focuses more on control of id rather than on fear. Also, object-relations therapists may go ahead and help the patients to try and resolve any past relationship conflicts and experiences they had.
The Behavioral Perspective
This perspective emphasizes scientific, as well as an objective approach to investigation. It stresses the role of the environment as seen through the learning theory. There are various therapies based on this perspective that has been available since the 1970s. Despite the availability of the therapies, more patients have opted for psychotropic medications. The use of these drugs has elicited a lot of controversies, and people have resorted to behavioral therapies (Sue, Sue & Sue, 2013).
The therapies use training as a way in which patients can be treated. When stimuli are paired, certain reflexes are bound to be observed. According to behaviorists, anxiety disorders may have been learned through this type of paired association. For instance, if a child is always barked at by a dog, the anxiety developed may make the child dread all furry animals in the future.
The Cognitive Perspective
This perspective views psychological challenges as being caused by a dysfunctional way of thinking. Here, GAD is a result of excessive worry (which is a cognitive symptom). Most people have a likelihood of experiencing exaggerated expectations of danger. The most affected could be those people whose lives have been dominated by unexpected negative events (Miller, 2007).
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There are two primary treatments. The first one has to do with the change of the maladaptive assumptions while the second one has to do with assisting clients to understand how worrying impacts one’s life. According to Elli’s Rational Emotive Therapy (RET), wrong assumptions should be pointed out and new ones suggested. Also, assigning related homework could greatly help. On the other hand, Beck’s Cognitive Therapy has been found to reduce anxiety to tolerable levels (Cunningham, Brandon & Frydenberg, 2002).
This perspective views GAD as a product of biological factors. For instance, kinship has been known to lead to GAD. Other studies have examined how neurons and receptors behave in patients with GAD. Biological therapies include anti-anxiety drugs, relaxation training, and biofeedback.
Different models express phobias. It has been established that phobias may develop due to conditioning. For instance, once fear has been acquired, there are high chances that it will stay. In this case, feared objects and situations are always avoided. For observational learning, phobias may develop through modeling. In cognitive theory, an individual’s thoughts call for great focus as they may, sometimes, implant many erroneous beliefs.
An Individual’s Response to Stress
Three factors that moderate an individual’s response to stress include:
- Personality traits.
- Individual background.
Personality traits such as assertiveness or lack of it have a link to the levels of stress. Individual background determines how different people deal with stress. Some of the background factors may include genetics, childhood relationships, culture, values, and physical, as well as mental health. On the other hand, attitude determines whether the stress level goes up or down. It also determines how people look at the same thing or situation (Daitch, 2011).
What are Psycho-physiological Disorders?
These are physical symptoms or diseases which occur or get worse as a result of psychological factors.
What causes them?
Mental state processes cause this disorder. For instance, any incongruence in mind, body, emotions, as well as physical symptoms may eventually lead to psychophysiological disorders and vice versa.
People are most likely to have these disorders due to several reasons. Firstly, emotions can affect physiological functions. Stress is also known to be a risk factor. For example, peptic ulcers may occur after one’s levels of stress go up.
There are various ways through which the risk of psychophysiological disorders can be reduced. One way is through progressive relaxation training, weight management, and physical exercise. Cardiovascular disorders such as hypertension can be caused by stress. When one is frustrated, the blood pressure increases (Sue et al., 2013). However, when one gets an opportunity to express aggression or anger, the pressure goes down remarkably.
Cunningham, E. G., Brandon, C. M., & Frydenberg, E. (2002). Enhancing Coping Resources in Early Adolescence Through a School-based Program Teaching Optimistic Thinking skills. Anxiety, Stress & Coping, 15, 4, 369-381.
Daitch, C. (2011). Anxiety disorders: The go-to guide for clients and therapists. New York, NY: W.W. Norton.
Miller, A. R. (2007). A teen’s guide to living with anxiety disorders. New York, NY: Facts On File.
Sue, D., Sue, D.W., & Sue, S. (2013). Understanding abnormal behavior (10th ed). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.