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Psychological Disorders Anxiety & Mood Disorders. What is Anxiety? A. generalized state of dread or uneasiness that occurs in response to a vague or imagined danger 1. Not the same as fear (response to real danger) 2. nervousness, inability to relax B. Physical signs:

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Psychological Disorders Anxiety & Mood Disorders

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What is Anxiety?

  • A. generalized state of dread or uneasiness that occurs in response to a vague or imagined danger
  • 1. Not the same as fear (response to real danger)
  • 2. nervousness, inability to relax
  • B. Physical signs:
  • 1. trembling, sweating, rapid heart rate, shortness of breath, increased blood pressure, flushed face,feeling faint
  • a. all result of overactivity of sympathetic branch in autonomic nervous system


  • 1. before a big game = appropriate response
  • 2. this response is not a PD
  • D. Feeling anxious all or most of the time
  • 1. sign of a PD
  • E. Anxiety-based disorders are among most common of all PDs in US

II. Types of Anxiety Disorders

  • A. Phobic Disorder
  • 1. persistent excessive or irrational fear of a particular object or situation
  • 2. to be diagnosed, the fear must lead to avoidance behavior that interferes with normal life
  • 3. Most common of all anxiety disorders
  • 4. Examples:
  • a. zoophobia – fear of animals
  • b. claustrophobia – enclosed spaces
  • c. acrophobia – heights
  • d. arachnophobia - spiders

5. Social Phobia – fear of social situations in which one might be scrutinized or humiliated / embarrassed

  • a. may invent excuses to avoid going to parties
  • B. Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia
  • 1. Panic Disorder may lead to recurring, unexpected panic attacks
  • 2. Panic Attack – short period of intense fear or discomfort
  • a. shortness of breath, dizziness, rapid heart rate, trembling, sweating, choking, nausea

3. Agoraphobia – fear of being in places in which escape is difficult or impossible

  • a. have panic attacks when they cannot avoid the stressful situations they fear
  • b. leads to avoidance behavior
  • c. avoid crowded places or never leave home at all
  • C. Generalized Anxiety Disorder– GAD (6 months)
  • a. excessive worry about life circumstances
  • b. finances, employment, illness

D. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder – OCD

  • 1. obsessions – unwanted thoughts or ideas that occur over and over
  • 2. compulsions – repetitive ritual behaviors
  • a. may reduce the anxiety the obsessions produce
  • i. time consuming / create more interference
  • 3. Hoarding
  • 4. Locking the doors over and over
  • 5. Washing hands over and over

E. Stress Disorders

  • 1. PTSD – intense anxiety caused by traumatic experience
  • 2. common result of extensive trauma
  • 3. symptoms include:
  • a. flashbacks, nightmares, numbness of feelings, avoidance of stimuli, tension

III. Explaining Anxiety Disorders

  • A. Psychological Views
  • 1. Psychoanalytic Theorists
  • a. no longer accepted, but did influence later theories
  • b. anxiety is result of “forbidden” childhood urges that have been repressed, or hidden from consciousness
  • c. lead to compulsive behaviors

2. Learning Theorists – phobias are conditioned, or learned, in childhood

  • a. people will avoid situations that make them feel anxiety
  • i. anxiety may worsen because they don’t learn other ways of coping
  • 3. Cognitive Theorists – people make themselves anxious by responding negatively to most situations

B. Biological Views

  • 1. believe heredity may play a role in most psychological disorders, including anxiety
  • a. people more inclined to fear things that threatened their ancestors
  • b. Some disorders reflect both biological and psychological factors

IV. Mood Disorders

  • A. Sad / mad when things are going well
  • B. Two categories:
  • 1. Depression – feelings of sadness, helplessness
  • 2. Bipolar Disorder – cycle of mood changes
  • C. Major Depression – most common of all PDs
  • (8 – 18% of general population will experience major depression in their lifetime)
  • a. Must show 5 symptoms to be diagnosed
  • b. one must be from the first 2 on list

1. persistent depressed mood for most of the day

  • 2. loss of interest in all or almost all activities
  • 3. significant weight loss or gain due to changes in appetite
  • 4. sleeping more or less than usual
  • 5. speeding up or slowing down of physical and emotional reactions
  • 6. fatigue or loss of energy
  • 7. feelings of worthlessness or unfound guilt
  • 8. reduced ability to concentrate or make meaningful decisions
  • 9. recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

D. Bipolar Disorder

  • 1. mania (extreme excitement) can change into depression quickly and for no apparent reason
  • 2. characterized by over excitement and sometimes irritability
  • E. Postpartum Disorder
  • 1. women feel hopeless and inadequate at childcare skills
  • 2. occurs after giving birth

V. Explaining Mood Disorders

  • A. Psychological View
  • 1. psychoanalytic view connects past events to the present.
  • a. people prone to depression suffered a real or imagined loss during childhood
  • b. internalize the anger toward themselves, leading to depression
  • B. Learning View
  • 1. people believe that previous events were out of their control, and therefor future events will be too
  • a. Martin Seligman – electric shock with dogs
  • 2. when a negative event occurs, they feel helpless… leading to depression

C. Cognitive View

  • 1. explanation of events
  • a. internal or external, stable or unstable
  • b. blaming self or others
  • D. Biological Views
  • 1. Two Neurotransmitters:
  • a. serotonin & noradrenaline (norepinephrine)
  • i. both play a role in mood regulation
  • b. low levels of serotonin may create tendencies toward mood disorders
  • c. low levels of serotonin and noradrenaline is linked to depression

E. Biological and Psychological Factors

  • 1. depressing situation slows down neurotransmitters (noradrenaline) activity in the brain
  • 2. the chemical changes may then worsen the depression