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Chapter 5

PSYC*3140 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Separation Anxiety Disorder, Sleeping People, Natural Environment

Course Code
Richard Brown

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Chapter 5—Anxiety Disorders
Abnormal Psychology
Pages 129- 174
The complexity of Anxiety Disorders:
Anxiety, Fear and Panic:
-Anxiety: is a negative mood state characterized by bodily symptoms of physical
tension and apprehension about the future
oA set of behaviours or a physiological response originating in the brain and
reflected in elevated heart and tension
- Anxiety is good in moderate levels
oFor example we performance better when we are anxious
-Fear: is an immediate alarm reaction to danger
oMotivates us to flee from danger
-Panic: sudden overwhelming reaction
oPanic attack: an abrupt experience of intense fear or acute discomfort,
accompanied by physical symptoms that usually include heart palpitations,
chest pains, shortness of breath and possibly dizziness
oThree types of panic attacks in DSM-IV
Situationally bound-- afraid of high places
Unexpected—do not know when your next panic attack will be
Situationally predisposed—fall between the two, you are more likely
to, but it’s not inevitable that you will experience the same attack you
have had before
- Unexpected and situationally predisposed attacks are more important in panic
- Situationally bound attacks are more common in specific phobias or social phobias
Causes of Anxiety Disorders:

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Biological Contributions:
- Increasing evidence shows that we inherit a tendency to be tense, uptight and
- No single gene seems to cause anxiety or panic, instead a collection of genes make
us vulnerable when the right psychological and social factors are in place
oStress or other environment can “turn on” these genes
- Anxiety is also associated with specific circuits and neurotransmitter systems
oGABA—associated with increase in anxiety
- Emotional state
oAnxiety: negative affect, somatic symptoms of tension, future-oriented,
feelings that one cannot predict or control upcoming events
oFear: negative affect, strong sympathetic nervous system arousal, immediate
alarm reaction, characterized by strong escapist tendencies in response to
present danger or life-threatening emergencies
oPanic attack: fear occurring at an inappropriate time, three types of panic
- Focus on role of the corticotroin-releasing factor (CRF) system as central to the
expression of anxiety and the groups of genes that increase the likelihood that this
system will be turned on
- The area of the brain most often associated with anxiety is the limbic system
oBehavioural inhibition system (BIS): when the BIS is activated by signals
that arise from the brain stem or descend from the cortex, our tendency to
freeze, experience anxiety and apprehensively evaluate the situation to
confirm that danger is present
oFight/flight system: involved in panic, immediate alarm and escape
- Factors in your environment can change the sensitivity of these brain circuits, making
you more or less susceptible to developing anxiety and its disorders

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Psychological Contributions:
- The actions of parents in early childhood seem to do a lot to foster this sense of
control or a sense of uncontrollability
oEarly experience is the psychological factor that makes us more or less
vulnerable to anxiety in later life
- Panic—invoke conditioning and cognitive explanations
oA strong fear response initially occurs during extreme stress or perhaps as a
result of a dangerous situation in the environment
oConditioned stimuli, provoke fear response and an assumption of danger,
even if danger is not present
Social Contributions:
- Stressful life events trigger our biological and psychological vulnerabilities to anxiety
- Same stressors can trigger physical reactions such as headaches or hypertension
and emotional reactions such as panic attacks
An integrated model:
-Triple vulnerability theory—a theory of the development of anxiety and related
oGeneralized biological vulnerability—to develop anxiety is not sufficient to
produce anxiety itself
oGeneralized psychological vulnerability—if you believe the world is a
dangerous place and your perception of this is strong
oSpecific psychological vulnerability—you learn from early experiences
- Anxiety and panic are closely related
Co morbidity of Anxiety Disorders:
- The co-occurrence of two or more disorders in a single individual is referred to as co
- Co morbidity among anxiety disorders are high emphasizes the fact that all these
disorders share the common features of anxiety and panic described here
- Share the same vulnerabilities, biological and psychological for developing anxiety
and panic
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