Anxiety is generally described as a psychological condition which brings about distinct detrimental physiological responses which is caused as result of various external stimuli in the form of stressors which destabilize a person’s normal mental state.
In other words it is a condition with physical, mental, emotional, behavioral and cognitive effects brought by a variety of external events or factors which have a detrimental effect on a person’s well being (Aln?s, 409 – 412). What must be understood is that most individuals feel varying types of anxiety over the course of their life.
It is a natural response to tense, stressful or otherwise difficult situations which helps an individual concentrate more, develop a clearer picture of a situation and overall enables them to perform better than they otherwise would have. It is characterized by elevated blood pressure, shortness of breath, feelings of nervousness, restlessness and repetitive thoughts regarding particular actions.
When examining relevant literature on the topic it can be seen that most experts agree that anxiety responses evolved as a method of coping with unavoidable or inevitable situations wherein a greater degree of concentration, motivation as well as focus was needed in order to overcome the inevitable event or situation (Aln?s, 409 – 412).
What must be understood is that developing a certain case of anxiety after a particular event or problem is completely normal and within the bounds of average human behavior, what is abnormal though is if a person develops prolonged symptoms of anxiety which prevent them from functioning normally as a direct result of psychological stressors which manifests in distinct aberrant forms of emotional outbursts, behavioral responses or physical actions which are far from what can be considered normal behavior.
It must be noted that while anxiety is a common human attribute, anxiety disorders are not and are characterized by their debilitating physiological and psychological effects which hinder an individual’s ability to function normally. The five main types of anxiety disorders are classified as follows:
1.) Generalized Anxiety Disorder
2.) Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
3.) Panic Disorder
4.) Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
5.) Social Phobia (or Social Anxiety Disorder)
What must be understood is that anxiety disorders are physiological and psychological manifestations of the effect stressors have on the body.
In average cases where anxiety is present people feel varying degrees of nervousness, apprehension, and the desire to accomplish a task and get it over with; in the case of anxiety disorders the manifestation of symptoms take on far more debilitating effects such as trouble concentrating, restlessness, sleeping disorders, depression, flashbacks of traumas, chest pains and even cases where panic attacks ensure which debilitate a person’s ability to act in a rational manner (Cote et al., 784 – 787).
Another factor that should be taken into consideration is the fact that unlike normal cases of anxiety the symptoms associated with anxiety disorders do not go away after a short period of time but rather remain for differing extended periods of time (Vroling & Jong, 110 – 112). This results in continued physical and mental stress being placed on the body which can, and often do, result in deteriorating health conditions for individuals who possesses varying types of anxiety disorders.
Vulnerability to Developing Anxiety Disorders
What must be understood is that not all individuals develop anxiety disorders or for that matter develop the same type of anxiety disorders. As mentioned earlier, external stressors play a distinct role in creating and maintaining anxiety within individuals however this particular factor is inherently dependent on a person’s lifestyle, job, living environment, economic situation as well as social condition.
Various studies examining the development of anxiety disorders within particular individuals have shown that a person’s inherent economic condition has an adverse effect on the amount of stressors they receive thus facilitating the development of various forms of anxiety disorders.
During the height of the recent U.S. financial recession it was shown that individuals experiencing job loss, home foreclosure and a variety of negative economic situations experienced elevated levels of stress and as a direct result developed distinct anxiety disorders. It is assumed that problems in relation to personal finances as well as the low job market acted as sufficient stressors which resulted in the development of elevated anxiety levels resulting in distinct anxiety disorders.
In fact numerous studies conducted over the years have shown that individuals experiencing negative economic conditions were more at risk in developing anxiety disorders as compared to individuals who were financially well off (Vroling & Jong, 110 – 115). In cases such as this it can be assumed that economic conditions act as greater stressors which result in an increased possibility in developing anxiety disorders as compared to ordinary stressors in a person’s life.
Another factor that should be taken into consideration when examining vulnerabilities towards the development of anxiety disorders is the daily conditions a person experiences while working. Studies examining the prevalence of anxiety disorders as a direct result of work place environments show that the more stressful a job is the greater the prevalence of anxiety disorders within the worker population.
An examination of the call center industry in particular show that the prevalence of anxiety disorders among the worker populace is greater as compared to other industries due to the sheer amount of verbal abuse agents receive on a daily basis.
The difference in the development of anxiety disorders in this case as compared to economic stressors is the sheer repetition of anxiety causing situations on a daily basis as compared to relatively few events that occur as a direct result of economic problems. It is due to this that worked based anxiety disorders are among the most prevalent in the general population and account for more than half of current cases in the global population today.
Living environments should also be taken into consideration when examining the development of certain types of anxiety disorders, various studies examining the correlation between anxiety and its prevalence among local communities showed that individuals living with inner city neighborhoods namely some of the oldest sections of the city where crime and poverty are the most prevalent show greater degrees of daily anxiety pressures as compared to individuals who come from suburbs or gated communities.
It is thought that the greater amounts of security and safety people feel from living in suburbs and gated communities directly contributes to reducing the number of environmental stressors they feel as compared to individuals who deal with poverty and crime on a daily basis. It must also be noted that the level of danger in various inner city neighborhoods is greater due extent of crime and as such facilitates greater anxiety levels when travelling on a daily basis.
Aside from the effects of external stressors it has been determined that certain individuals actually have an inherent predisposition towards anxiety and the development of anxiety disorders.
Various studies examining the behavioral characteristics of infants and their comparative behaviors when they reach a state of adolescence reveal that people with a more sensitive nucleus accumbens reach a state of anxiety or development anxiety disorders far faster and with a greater degree of prevalence as compared to individuals with a far less sensitive nucleus accumbens (Smoller et al., 965 – 968).
While there have yet to be studies to determine how such genetic differences occurred over the course of several generations within the current population group it is assumed that individuals with a more sensitive nucleus accumbens developed this trait as a direct result of environmental characteristics that have yet to be precisely determined (Smoller et al., 965 – 968).
Based on the various facts it can be seen that while anxiety is a common human behavioral condition, the development of anxiety disorders are not and are a direct result of various external stressors. It is based on this that it can be advised that in order to avoid developing acute forms of anxiety disorders it is recommended to avoid lifestyles choices, jobs and environments that have been noted in this paper as being primary causes towards the development of such a detrimental physiological and psychological condition.
Aln?s, Randolf, and Svenn Torgersen. “A 6-year follow-up study of anxiety disorders in psychiatric outpatients: Development and continuity with personality disorders and personality traits as predictors.” Nordic Journal of Psychiatry 53.6 (1999): 409-416. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 9 July 2011.
Gilles Cote, et al. “Anxiety Disorders Among Offenders With Antisocial Personality Disorders: A Distinct Subtype?.” Canadian Journal of Psychiatry 55.12 (2010): 784-791. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 9 July 2011.
Smoller, Jordan W., Stefanie R. Block, and Mirella M. Young. “Genetics of anxiety disorders: the complex road from DSM to DNA.” Depression & Anxiety (1091- 4269) 26.11 (2009): 965-975. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 9 July 2011.
Vroling, Maartje S., and Peter J. de Jong. “Threat-confirming belief bias and symptoms of anxiety disorders.” Journal of Behavior Therapy & Experimental Psychiatry 41.2 (2010): 110-116. Academic Search Premier. EBSCO. Web. 9 July 2011.