Anxiety Disorders

anxiety

anxiety, anticipatory tension or vague dread persisting in the absence of a specific threat. In contrast to fear, which is a realistic reaction to actual danger, anxiety is generally related to an unconscious threat. Physiological symptoms of anxiety include increases in pulse rate and blood pressure, accelerated breathing rates, perspiration, muscular tension, dryness of the mouth, and diarrhea. Freud postulated that anxiety was a result of repressed, pent-up sexual energy, but later came to view it as a danger signal alerting the ego to excessive stimulation and causing repression. Anxiety disorders include observable, overt anxiety, as well as phobias and other conditions where a defense mechanism has been set up to disguise the anxiety from both the sufferer and the observer. In generalized anxiety, the individual experiences long-term anxiety with no explanation for its cause; such a condition may be called free-floating, since it is not linked to a specific stimulus. Panic disorder involves sudden anxiety attacks which are manifested in heart palpitations, shortness of breath, or fainting. The individual with a phobic disorder can identify the stimulus that causes anxiety: such stimuli as enclosed space, heights, and crowds become imbued with greatly exaggerated anxiety and are carefully avoided by the phobic individual. Obsessive-compulsive disorders (OCD) are characterized by obsessions (mental quandries) and compulsions (physical actions) that engage the individual excessively. Extreme anxiety may be experienced if the person does not carry out the compulsion or attempts to ignore the obsession. Post-traumatic stress disorder occurs when an individual has recurrent dreams, flashbacks, or panic attacks after a particularly traumatic experience.

See D. F. Klein, Anxiety (1987); D. H. Barlow, Anxiety and Its Disorders (1988); S. J. Rachman, Fear and Courage (1990).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Anxiety and Its Disorders: The Nature and Treatment of Anxiety and Panic
David H. Barlow.
Guilford Press, 2002
Anxiety
S. Rachman.
Psychology Press, 2004 (2nd edition)
Phobias
Mario Maj; Hagop S. Akiskal; Juan José López-Ibor; Ahmed Okasha.
Wiley, 2004
Culture and Panic Disorder
Devon E. Hinton; Byron J. Good.
Stanford University Press, 2009
Understanding Panic and Other Anxiety Disorders
Benjamin A. Root.
University Press of Mississippi, 2000
Prevalence and Incidence Studies of Anxiety Disorders: A Systematic Review of the Literature
Somers, Julian M.; Goldner, Elliot M.; Waraich, Paul; Hsu, Lorena.
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 51, No. 2, February 2006
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Childhood Separation Anxiety and Separation Events in Women with Agoraphobia with or without Panic Disorder
Peter, Helmut; Brückner, Eva; Hand, Iver; Rufer, Michael.
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, Vol. 50, No. 14, December 2005
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Temperamental Traits and Attention to Threat: A Theoretical Exploration of Their Joint Contribution to Childhood Anxiety Disorders
Susa, Georgiana; Benga, Oana.
Cognitie, Creier, Comportament, Vol. 13, No. 3, September 2009
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Panic Disorder: Break the Fear Circuit: For Most Patients, CBT, Antidepressants, or a Combination of Both Is Effective
Dunlop, Boadie W.; Schneider, Rebecca; Gerardi, Maryrose.
Current Psychiatry, Vol. 11, No. 11, November 2012
Anxiety Disorders Comorbid with Depression: Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia
David Nutt; Adrian Feeney; Spilios Argyropolous.
Martin Dunitz, 2002
Phobic and Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents: A Clinician's Guide to Effective Psychosocial and Pharmacological Interventions
Thomas H. Ollendick; John S. March.
Oxford University Press, 2004
Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents: A Psychopharmacological Approach
David Nutt; Caroline Bell; Christine Masterson; Clare Short.
Martin Dunitz, 2001
Anxiety Disorders in Adults: An Evidence-Based Approach to Psychological Treatment
Peter D. McLean; Sheila R. Woody.
Oxford University Press, 2001
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