Chapter 5: Anxiety Disorders
Anxiety, Fear, and Panic
• anxiety: a negative mood state characterized by bodily symptoms of physical tension,
and apprehension about the future. (we fear that we cannot predict or control events)
• anxiety can be represented as a sense of unease, a set of behaviours that show
this sense of unease, or a physiological response originating in the brain and
reﬂected in elevated heart rate or increased muscle tension.
• anxiety has been studied with animals as it is difﬁcult to study it in humans (easier
just to observe animalʼs behaviour) - problem with this is that anxiety in animals
doesnʼt explain the whole experience of anxiety with humans.
• anxiety is very closely related to depression
• anxiety is normal for every individual, but in moderate amounts. (anxiety
sometimes pushes us to perform better)
• what makes the situation worse is when we know we have nothing to be anxious
about, yet we still remain anxious.
• anxiety is a future-oriented mood state.
• fear: emotion of an immediate alarm reaction to present danger or life-threatening
• just like anxiety, fear is good for us in moderate amounts.
• fear protects us from overreacting physiologically through the autonomic nervous
system (increased heart rate and blood pressure) - ﬁght or ﬂight response.
• much evidence shows that fear and anxiety differ psychologically and physiologically.
• fear is concerned with the danger of events happening presently, while anxiety is a
future-oriented mood state (concerned with the future events)
• panic: sudden overwhelming fright or terror
• panic attack: abrupt experience of intense fear or acute discomfort, accompanied
by physical symptoms that include heart palpitations, chest pain, shortness of
breath, and dizziness.
• 3 types of panic attacks described by the DSM-IV:
•situationally bound (cued): being exposed to certain situations (i.e. exposed to
heights) can trigger a sense of panic.
•unexpected (uncued): unexpected trigger of panic
•situationally predisposed: can either be described as cued or noncued (in
• one can be more likely exposed to a sense of panic, which is also
avoidable, in situations they have had a panic attack to.
• unexpected and situationally predisposed attacks are more important in panic
• situationally bound attacks are more important in social phobias and speciﬁc
• Causes of Anxiety, Fear, and Panic: (made up of multiple factors)
• Biological Contributions
•may not be the most inﬂuential factor, but genes have a weak contribution to
being vulnerable to anxiety.
•tendency to panic can also run in families • increased anxiety is due to depleted levels of GABA
• CRF (corticotropin releasing factor) works with the HPA axis - these are all part
of the limbic system that regulates our moods and emotions.
• Jeffrey Gray - identiﬁed a brain circuit in the limbic system of animals that is
involved with anxiety
• circuit leads from septal and hippocampal area in the limbic system to the
• the system is called the behavioural inhibition system (BIS) - activated by
major changes in body functioning as detected by the brain
• Jeffrey Gray and Graeff- identiﬁed a brain circuit that is involved with panic -
called the ﬁght-ﬂight system (FFS)
• originates in the brain stem and travels through several midbrain structures
including the amygdala and the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus,
and central grey matter.
• this system is activated by changes in serotonin levels in oneʼs body
• environmental factors may change or alter these biological factors, changing