UQx PSYC1030.3x 3-4-1 Anxiety disorders
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Do you ever get anxious or worried? Of course you do! We all do. So before we go any further, I just want to
emphasise the fact that anxiety is a normal part of being human. Everybody gets anxious. Everybody experiences fear and anxiety from
time to time. That’s normal… But it means we have something of a dilemma
when it comes to diagnosing anxiety disorders – because exactly how do you distinguish
between anxiety that falls within the broad parameters of normal, and anxiety that has
become clinically significant? Well, if a person’s anxiety is causing them
a great deal of distress and/or it’s really interfering with their functioning, then we
would view it as being clinically significant. So, it comes down to these two key constructs
– distress caused, and associated impairment or interference in functioning. I’ll give you an example to demonstrate
what I mean. Many to most of us might experience anxiety
about, having to give a talk, or sit an exam; but generally speaking, we’re able to manage
that and do the talk, or sit the exam. However, if your anxiety is so great that
you’re not able to do the talk or sit the exam – then that’s starting to sound like
clinically significant anxiety as it is interfering with your functioning. As with the depressive disorders, there are
a number of DSM-5 anxiety disorders. These include: Separation Anxiety Disorder,
Selective Mutism, Specific Phobia,
Social Anxiety Disorder (Social Phobia), Panic Disorder,
Agoraphobia, Generalised Anxiety Disorder,
Substance/Medication-Induced Anxiety Disorder, Anxiety Disorder Due to Another Medical Condition,
Other Specified Anxiety Disorder, Unspecified Anxiety Disorder. We are going to focus on Specific Phobia,
Social Anxiety Disorder, Panic Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Before we talk about each of these disorders,
I want to introduce the idea of the 3 systems of anxiety – the cognitive system (what
people think either before, during or after a situation where they feel anxious), the
behavioural system (what people do when they are anxious) and the physiological system
(what happens in people’s bodies when they are anxious). We’ll come back to this idea at the end
when we talk about a cognitive behavioural model of anxiety.

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