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Chapter 7

Chapter 7 Anxiety Disorders

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Psychology 2320A/B
Elizabeth Hayden

Chapter 7 Anxiety DisordersOne of the most common mental health problems in young children with lifetime prevalence estimates between 8 and 30 Often go unnoticed and untreateddue to frequent occurrence of fears and anxiety during normal development invisible nature of many symptoms and the fact that anxiety is not nearly as damaging to other people or property as are conduct problemsDescription of Anxiety DisordersAnxietymood state characterized by strong negative emotion and bodily symptoms of tension in which the child apprehensively anticipates future danger or misfortuneo Two key features of anxietystrong negative emotion and an element of fear Children who experience excessive and debilitating anxieties are said to have anxiety disorders Anxiety becomes a serious problem when children experience fears beyond certain age in situations that pose no real threat or danger to an extent that seriously interferes with daily activitieso This pattern of selfdefeating behaviour is known as neurotic paradoxAnxiety involves an immediate reaction to perceived danger or threata reaction known as fightflight response o Effects are aimed at escaping potential harm either by confronting the source of danger fight or by evading it flight Symptoms of anxiety are expressed through three interrelated response systems the physical system cognitive system and behavioural systemo Physical systemwhen a person perceivesanticipates danger the brains sends messages to the sympathetic producing many important chemical and physical effects that mobilize the body for actionChemical effectsadrenaline and noradrenaline are released from the adrenal glandsCardiovascular effectsheart rate and strength of heart beat increase readying body for action by speeding up blood flow and improving delivery of oxygen to tissuesRespiratory effectsspeed and depth of breathing increase which brings oxygen to the tissues and removes waste producing feelings of breathlessness choking or smothering or chest painsSweat gland effectssweating increasesOther physical effectspupils widen to let in more light which leads to blurred vision salivation decreases decreased activity in digestive system may lead to nausea and a heavy feeling in the stomach muscles tense in readiness for flight or fight leading to subjective feelings of tension aches and pains and tremblingo Cognitive systemactivation of fightflight response produces immediate search for potential threat often leading to subjective feelings of apprehension nervousness difficulty concentrating and panico Behavioural systemurges that accompany the response are aggression and a desire to escape the threatening situationIt is important to distinguish anxiety from two closely related emotionsfear and panic o Fear is an immediate alarm reaction to current danger or lifethreatening emergencies Although fear and anxiety have much in common fear reaction differs both psychologically and biologically from the emotion of anxiety Fear is a presentoriented emotional reaction to current danger marked by a strong escape tendency and an allout surge in the sympathetic nervous system whereas anxiety is a futureoriented emotion characterized by feelings of apprehension and lack of control over upcoming events that might be threateningo Panic is a group of physical symptoms of the fightflight response that unexpectedly occur in the absence of any obvious threat or dangerNormal fears anxieties worries and rituals o Various types of anxiety are evident by age 4 and about 25 of parents report that their child is too nervous fearful or anxiouso Most frequent symptoms of anxiety in normal samples are separation anxiety test anxiety overconcern about competence excessive need for reassurance and anxiety about harm to a parent o Process of worry serves an extremely useful function in normal development in moderate doses
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