Anxiety Disorder Free

Rethinking Mental Illness

Introduction

Relatively recently, the mental health issues were highly stigmatized, and not even considered the diseases. “It has been repeated that anxiety; like schizophrenia, was hardly known as an illness before the 19th century.” (Crocq, 2015) Therefore, people rarely were concerned about such problems, and the research on this topic was close to none. People, who claimed to have issues with the mental health were seen as the burdens, or odd ones, rather than sick people. Despite such an approach, the mentions of the anxiety disorders can be traced down to the Ancient times. For example, Crocq (2015) states that “Cicero offers a clinical description of the various abnormal affects: Angor (anxiety) is further characterized clinically as a “constricting” disorder (premens), whereas molestia (affliction) is described as permanent (permanens), and sollicitudo (worry) as ruminative (cum cogitatione).” However, since the leap in the technological progress, scientists have actively started looking into this problem, and over the last few years, the “research on mental illness was, at long last, reaching an inflection point.” (Insel, 2010) Not only the science has started recognizing the issues, the public has brought this topic to the surface, encouraging people to seek help, if needed.

One of the most common mental health issues currently is anxiety. “Anxiety disorder is a generic term given to a group of specific disorders that are typically characterized by fear, worry, and phobic responses.” (Klein et al., 2011) However, regardless of being the most commonly spread mental illness, anxiety disorders often get the least recognition. There is a tendency in public to put the disorders into the sections and to divide the ones, which are considered ‘less dangerous’ from the ‘more dangerous’ ones. Due to the symptoms of anxiety, this illness is not considered to be extremely dangerous. To compare, depression may be much more harmful. However, the extent of the symptom’s harmfulness does not act as a way of neglecting such disease. What is more, since the stigmatized image of the anxiety, the symptoms, and their consequences are often underestimated. Such as, for example, stress, which is one of the most common anxiety symptoms. While stress is a normal biological reaction of a human body, its excess may be extremely harmful. Therefore, anxiety, as the mental illness needs to be less stereotyped as the not harmful disease, and instead explored more deeply, in order to fully understand it.

A brief history of anxiety

There is no denying that despite mental illnesses not having recognition and proper treatment until relatively recently, they have existed since the first human civilizations were created. The evidence of the people being interested in what deviations a human mind may have can be seen as far as in the works of the Ancient Greco-Roman philosophers. Anxiety is not an exception to the rule. “There are indications that anxiety was clearly identified as distinct negative affect and as a separate disorder by Greco-Roman philosophers and physicians.” (Crocq, 2015) What is more, there is also evidence of the scholars of the ancient times trying to treat such disorders as anxiety, and the treatment processes somewhat resemble current approaches. (Crocq, 2015) These facts could only mean that they recognized it as a proper illness, which has to be treated, not ignored.

The phenomenon of anxiety seems to have disappeared after its so-called prosperous times in Ancient Greece and Rome. Until the 19th century, there are no significant statements about the anxiety, Crocq (2015) states. Melancholia has seemed to have taken over the anxiety, as this term was often used in the context, similar to anxiety. “At that time, the meaning of melancholia was not limited to depression but encompassed anxiety.” (Crocq, 2015)

The anxiety, known to us now has been more or less present since 1869, when “George Miller Beard first described neurasthenia.” (Crocq, 2015) Despite not directly being called anxiety, such disorder was described to have quite similar symptoms.

 

Anxiety symptoms

Apart from being stigmatized, the term ‘anxiety’ is, quite often, being used too generally to describe the fear of a certain situation, or a temporary condition, which is caused by stress. However, anxiety disorders, which include generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, specific phobias, selective mutism, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and agoraphobia, differ from “developmentally normative or stress-induced transient anxiety by being marked and persistent, and by impairing daily functioning.” (Craske & Stein, 2016) Due to this, the major symptoms of anxiety are often confused or underestimated. For example, in a wait, for some important, somewhat fearful event to happen, people often get anxious, which is a normal reaction of a human body. However, such response to the stress does not necessarily mean that one has an anxiety disorder, even though the statistics of the year of 2013 show that “one in nine people worldwide has had an anxiety disorder” (Craske & Stein, 2016), which are not the results you want to hear. People often confuse their stress-induced fear with a disorder, and such confusion is supported with the actual anxiety symptoms. “Individuals with anxiety disorders are excessively fearful, anxious, or avoidant of perceived threats in the environment (e.g., social situations or unfamiliar locations) or internal to oneself (e.g., unusual bodily sensations).” (Craske & Stein, 2016) Unless the fears (usually associated with anxiety) are persistent and interfere with the normal functioning of a person, they are considered developmentally normal. The usual persistence of the symptoms has to be present at least for six months for one to be diagnosed with the anxiety disorder. While anxiety is proved to arise from both “genetic predispositions and learning experiences that result in the acquisition of beliefs about potential harmful effects of autonomic arousal” (Olatunji & Wolitzky-Taylor, 2009), every person may experience the symptoms of the anxiety disorder differently.

As previously mentioned, there are many different types of anxiety disorders. Even though the main symptom of anxiety is usually narrowed to fear, there are various reasons for the fear to occur. Despite the diversity of anxiety disorders, there is an issue with analyzing what exact disorder underlies the fear of a patient.  Craske & Stein (2016) explain that a fear of being in the crowd can be stimulated by agoraphobia, which is he fear of not escaping a dangerous situation, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, separation anxiety disorder or specific phobia.

Co-morbidity of anxiety

Since the active exploration of the field of mental illnesses, it has been sound out that usually, a patient does not have only one mental illness. Instead, one has to deal with two, or more mental health issues, and such phenomenon is called co-morbidity. The most frequent combination of the co-morbidity among mental illnesses is anxiety and depression. “This various anxiety and depressive disorders appear together across generations.” (Garber & Weersing, 2010) It is estimated that 60% of people, who experience anxiety disorders will also experience depression, and vice versa. (Salcedo, 2018) Craske & Stein (2016) state that “depression with anxiety symptoms can be considered the modal presentation of such disorders in most clinical settings.” Since such a correlation between two most common mental illnesses has become a rule, scientists have conducted many types of research, which eventually have helped both parties in such combination. In comparison, the co-morbidity, such as anxiety-anxiety, has been proved to occur as frequently, as the previously mentioned ‘anxiety-depression,’ however “it has received surprisingly little attention to-date.” (Klein Hofmeijer-Sevink et al., 2012) Such type of co-morbidity not only proves that anxiety alone is not taken as seriously, like other mental illnesses but also lefts a big body of research unexplored, which leaves many people hanging in the air, looking for answers to their illness. It has been proved that “compared with single anxiety disorders, patients with anxiety–anxiety comorbidity suffer from more severe anxiety symptoms.” (Hofmeijer-Sevink et al., 2012)

 

Biblical concepts in the context of anxiety

Religion is a big part of the entire human population. One does not have to be involved in any religion, in order to be somehow affected by it. With that fact, religion is, to some extent, being integrated into many spheres of the daily lives. The medical sphere is not an exception to the rule. Since human brains, therefore, mind is the part and the parcel of the mental illness context, theology has been involved with science, in order to understand the nature of mental illnesses, and that very much includes anxiety.

One of the examples of the Bible’s involvement in the concept of mental illness is death anxiety in Tower of Babel. “Compared to other biblical narratives, the well-known account of the Tower of Babel (Genesis 11: 1–9) has been underrepresented in the psychological analysis of the Bible.” (Cantz & Castle, 2013) Death anxiety is, by definition, a worrying, which manifests due to knowing of everyone’s finite existence. Since death anxiety may be put on the spectrum of anxiety disorders along with many phobias, this phenomenon is a fascinating subject, while exploring anxiety in general. On the other hand, fear of death has been a long known subject of interest in theology, which makes this subject appear in the context of both sciences. While psychology strives to understand the inner workings of the human brain, in order to assess the mental illnesses, theology explains the concepts of some subjects via God’s sayings.

Theoretical concepts of anxiety

In the 20th century, the majority of scientific fields have begun to develop rapidly. Psychology was not an exception, and therefore, many scholars of that time have contributed to the currently existing theoretical concepts, which are still being used to analyze the mental illnesses. Regarding the anxiety, some of the core concepts include psychoanalytic, learning or behavioral, physiological, phenomenological, or existential, and cognitive. All of the mentioned theories are used to explain the anxiety from the different angles, what is more, they are used to create the optimal therapy, and because there are many variations of the anxiety disorders, all of the possible concepts are being used.

However, since science does not stop in its development, it demands new, more optimal theoretical concepts, the ones, which will adapt to all of the latest novelties. For example, Widdowson (2014) aims to change the already existing theory of transactional analysis, by adding own concepts, which would make the theory better. The author explains that “there are many aspects of the intrapsychic and interpersonal process and behaviors that transactional analysis currently does not adequately address or conceptualize.” (Widdowson, 2014)

Such studies are being conducted daily, with scholars wishing to develop as many frameworks as possible, in order to continue exploring mental illnesses. In the case of anxiety, such development is vital. It has been previously mentioned that this particular illness is being hugely ignored by the public, which negates all of the existing research in it.

Anxiety treatment

Being a mental illness, anxiety needs to be treated, just like every other disease. The discussed theoretical concepts usually act as the background to developing an effective treatment program for a particular type of disorder. The most common treatments, which are being applied to anxiety are physiological and pharmacological treatment. These treatments usually are being also used for depression, bipolar disorder, and many others.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of physiological treatment, which has proved to be effective in treating many mental illnesses. Cognitive behavioral therapy “is a short-term (e.g., 10–20 weeks), goal-oriented, a skills-based treatment that reduces anxiety-driven biases to interpret ambiguous stimuli as threatening, replaces avoidant and safety-seeking behaviors with the approach and coping behaviors, and reduces excessive autonomic arousal through strategies such as relaxation or breathing retraining.” (Craske & Stein, 2016)

Pharmacological treatment is also being heavily used in treating anxiety among all of the other mental illnesses. Due to the big amount of research done on anxiety, drug therapies “are available for all of the anxiety disorders.” (Craske & Stein, 2016) What is more, the combination of both CBT and drug therapies have shown the best results in treating anxiety.

Conclusion

Anxiety is a mental illness, which is characterized by a growing, persistent fear of the future outcomes of certain situations. Being the most common mental illness, anxiety is still being ignored more than other mental health issues. The first evidence of the existence of anxiety can be seen back in Ancient Greece and Rome, where the philosophers explained the people’s fear as something odd. However, after the Ancient societies’ mention of anxiety, its traces have been almost entirely faded, and it has not been recognized until the 19th century. During this period, the closest phenomenon was described as melancholia, with the symptoms, very similar to the current anxiety. General anxiety symptoms are the fear, worrying and anxious state of mind. The mentioned feelings are the ones, also often being experienced by many people. However, this does not mean that every person, experiencing them, has an anxiety disorder. The primary criterion, by which any type of anxiety disorder is diagnosed is that the fear is persistent (at least six months long) and does not let one live the life on fullest. The spectrum of anxiety disorder includes generalized anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, specific phobias, selective mutism, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and agoraphobia. However, it is also widespread for anxiety to be co-morbid. The most frequent combination of the mental illnesses is the anxiety-depression co-morbidity.

Despite anxiety often being stigmatized as not so serious mental issue, it is one, and as any of them, has the dangerous consequences. The science is always developing, and therefore, the new concepts of theoretical framework, regarding anxiety are being created. Such concepts usually help develop a proper and optimal treatment program, which will be effective. Anxiety is a mental illness, which is not being taken seriously by the public, which leaves all of the existing research unnoticed. Therefore, more attention needs to be payed to the anxiety disorder.

References

Cantz, P., & Castle, M. (2013). A Psycho-Biblical Response to Death Anxiety: Separation and Individuation Dynamics in the Babel Narrative. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 41(4), 327–339. doi:10.1177/009164711304100405

Craske, M. G., & Stein, M. B. (2016). Anxiety. The Lancet, 388(10063), 3048–3059. doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(16)30381-6

Crocq M. A. (2015). A history of anxiety: from Hippocrates to DSM. Dialogues in clinical neuroscience17(3), 319-25.

Garber, J., & Weersing, V. R. (2010). Comorbidity of Anxiety and Depression in Youth: Implications for Treatment and Prevention. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 17(4), 293–306. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2850.2010.01221.x

Insel, T. R. (2010). Rethinking Mental Illness. JAMA, 303(19), 1970. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.555

Klein Hofmeijer-Sevink, M., Batelaan, N. M., van Megen, H. J. G. M., Penninx, B. W., Cath, D. C., van den Hout, M. A., & van Balkom, A. J. L. M. (2012). Clinical relevance of comorbidity in anxiety disorders: A report from the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety (NESDA). Journal of Affective Disorders, 137(1-3), 106–112. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2011.12.008

Klein B, Meyer D, Austin DW, Kyrios M (2011). Anxiety Online – A Virtual Clinic: Preliminary Outcomes Following Completion of Five Fully Automated Treatment Programs for Anxiety Disorders and Symptoms, J Med Internet Res, 13(4)

Olatunji, B. O., & Wolitzky-Taylor, K. B. (2009). Anxiety sensitivity and the anxiety disorders: A meta-analytic review and synthesis. Psychological Bulletin, 135(6), 974–999. doi:10.1037/a0017428

Salcedo, B. (2018). “The Comorbidity Of Anxiety And Depression.” National Alliance Of Mental Illness. Retrieved From Https://www.nami.org/Blogs/NAMI-Blog/January-2018/The-Comorbidity-of-Anxiety-and-Depression

Widdowson, M. (2014). Avoidance, Vicious Cycles, and Experiential Disconfirmation of Script. Transactional Analysis Journal, 44(3), 194–207. doi:10.1177/0362153714554207

The terms offer and acceptance. (2016, May 17). Retrieved from

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"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016.

[Accessed: August 11, 2022]

freeessays.club (2016) The terms offer and acceptance [Online].
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[Accessed: August 11, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

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"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: August 11, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: August 11, 2022]

"The terms offer and acceptance." freeessays.club, 17 May 2016

[Accessed: August 11, 2022]
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