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The Reasoning and Causation of Anxiety Disorders

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Mental illnesses, as a whole, in today’s society have a reputation for making a person seem weak or seeking attention from others. It is surrounded by a negative stigma, and so often goes untreated. Of the mental illnesses, anxiety is one of the least recognized and least treated. There are an estimated 30 million Americans that suffer from some form of anxiety disorder such as generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Of these 30 million Americans suffering from the different types of anxiety disorders, only around 15-36% of these Americans are receiving treatment (Kroenke, Spitzer, Williams, Monahan, & Lowe, 2007). In a dissertation written by Brandon Guin in 2014, he discussed the relationship between trauma and anxiety. One of his main points was that trauma is experienced by 6.8% of Americans, and then diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder. He went on to explain how disabling this anxiety disorder can be depending on the severity of the traumatic event. The awareness of anxiety is increasing slowly, but surely. Treatments for the different anxiety disorders are becoming more available, but with fewer people coming forward and looking for treatment, the percentage of people that are diagnosed and treated is much less than the patients that are receiving treatment. According to Freeman and Fowler in 2009, traumatic experiences are often closely related to the cause of psychotic breaks, hallucinations, and anxiety. These traumas can be defined by events such as sexual assault, substance abuse, and even non-victimization events.

Anxiety in Fourteen-Year-Old Girls

It is automatically assumed that an anxiety disorder is acquired because of stressful life events. It has been researched frequently in twins to see if anxiety is present in a person due to genetics or life events. Silberg, Rutter, Neale, and Eaves conducted a longitudinal study on adolescent girls in 2001. It revealed that anxiety was developed due to different traumatic events throughout the teen’s lives. Some of the different traumatic events included a sibling leaving home, indicating separation anxiety, a new sibling being introduced into the family due to a parent getting married, or the family income decreasing because of a parent losing a job. The researchers used a group of 184 fourteen-year-old girls, and began with an interview. The interview incorporated the Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Assessment that aided the researchers in diagnosing the defects in the girl’s mental status before the study began. This gave them a baseline to collect the remaining data. They were observed over the next three months. This age was believed to be the age where the girls were mature enough to process the different events occurring in their lives and it affect their mental health. After observing the girls over the three months, the study revealed a .06 correlation between the traumatic events listed above and their anxiety levels.

Substance Abuse Induced Anxiety

Developing a substance abuse disorder is another factor that is believed to affect mental health. Excessive substance abuse is known to be a way to cope with different mental issues as a way to self medicate. A correlational study was conducted along the Mexican border to observe the relationship between substance abuse among people from different communities around the border and their feelings of anxiety and hopelessness. The study gathered 100 Mexican Americans that were classified as heavy drinkers by a CAGE questionnaire. The participants were then interviewed using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Axis I disorders to analyze the type of anxiety disorders and substance abuse present in each participant. The results of the study revealed that the Mexican Americans self-medicated with alcohol to cope with the anxiety that came from acculturation (Blume, Resor, Villanueva, & Braddy, 2009). It would make sense that people would use substances to cope with anxiety because they are trying to conform to a new society that is foreign to what the citizen is accustomed to. This study helped prove the fact that a culture change and assimilation can have a huge impact on a person’s life resulting in different anxiety disorders.

Anxiety presented through nightmares. A big indicator of trauma and anxiety disorders in children is the presence of nightmares. Even though it is common for children to have nightmares every once in a while, an extreme amount of them, or some that are severe enough to be classified as night terrors, can reveal the presence of anxiety in a child. After a traumatic event in a child’s life, the child typically starts to have higher rates of sleep interruptions accompanied by nightmares. This is what clinicians will look for when attempting to diagnose a child with an anxiety disorder. The clinicians can typically analyze the child’s dreams and determine the trauma that occurred because children’s dreams typically reflect their life events. The studies discussed in this dissertation written by Marie Ardill in 2017, describe the different effects that anxiety has on children. It is mainly all about the nightmares that children experience. It also discusses the different causes of anxiety in children such as parental styles that can instill feelings of anxiety in children. How a child is raised and treated early on has a huge impact on the mental health of the child, since their mind is developing so rapidly. Any type of trauma occurring can send a child into critical anxious states that are reflected by their nightmares.

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Indirect anxiety from parenting. Some anxiety isn’t due to direct trauma, but instead due to worrying about possible trauma in the future. An example of this would be a pregnant mother that is anxious about the birth of her child. A quantitative study was done on 150 pregnant women. The study was made quantitative by using a twenty-eight question survey and a State Trait Anxiety Inventory, that rated the psychological status of the pregnant woman on a scale of 1-4. The results of these two tests revealed that 104 of them displayed traits of anxiety. The main complications that the women were anxious about were possible health issues for their newborn. Other causes of anxiety in the pregnant women were the different changes that were occurring in their bodies, such as the hormonal imbalances and weight gain, and then feelings of loneliness and anxiety about how to raise the child if the father was not present in the child/mother’s life anymore (Deklava, Lubina, Circenis, Sudraba, & Millere, 2015). According to a study conducted by Turner, Beidel, Roberson-Nay, and Tervo in 2003, anxious parenting continues on past birth and pregnancy. These researchers observed a group of parents that were constantly worried about the activities that their children participated in. It revealed that the stress levels for the children were much higher because of the parent’s anxiety than the children that had parents without anxiety disorders. Having a household that is run by anxiety would put more stress on everyone in the house because the family members would constantly worry about trying to make everything perfect. This would then transfer into the children’s children and create a cycle.

Another form of indirect anxiety comes from being raised around constant anxiety. Researchers studied the children of parents that were victims of the Holocaust with PTSD, and children that had parents without Holocaust experience without PTSD. They were given several different tests to analyze their mental status and health and then observed. The results of this study revealed that the children of parents that were victims of the Holocaust and suffered from PTSD also suffered from an anxiety disorder (Yehuda, Halligan, & Bierer, 2001). This study shows that when children are raised around chronically anxious parents, the children watch and learn those same behaviors. Nurture has a big effect on the way that children grow up when it comes to their personality, the way they live, and the way they act. Being raised with lots of anxious influence, it is no surprise that those children suffer from an anxiety disorder too. Even though the trauma did not specifically happen to the children, it still affected them because they experienced the trauma second handedly from their parents.

Post-traumatic stress disorder is extremely common in rape victims. A descriptive study compared the anxiety levels of rape victims when they were asked to discuss their feelings and thoughts about their assault. They were separated into two groups: those diagnosed with PTSD and those without PTSD. Thirty-six women were used in the study, seventeen of them had been diagnosed with PTSD and the other nineteen women had not. They were given nine minutes to write out thoughts about their assault and then were given a period of time to reflect. After this time of reflection, they were given nine more minutes to write out thoughts and feelings after being instructed to not think about the assault. The victims with PTSD had a much harder time controlling their thoughts and remaining calm. It was clear that the victims with PTSD were consumed with anxiety because of the trauma that was inflicted on them (Shipherd & Beck 1999).

The studies conducted and other research finds a strong correlation between past trauma and people suffering from all types of anxiety disorders. It is clear how debilitating these anxiety disorders can be, and how important it is for people suffering from these disorders is to be treated. As a researcher, more studies should be conducted to research the types of traumas that affect the elderly. Since the elderly have lived much longer and experienced a lot of life, it would be interesting to see exactly what causes their anxiety or see if anxiety decreases as age increases. My prediction would be that the elderly have the lowest amount of anxiety since they have lived the longest and have the most life experience. With more life experience comes the ability to learn how to cope in healthier ways, and realize that bad experiences happen to everyone. The elderly would be wise enough to see that people should enjoy life while they can since they are becoming aware of the fact that their days are numbered and life does not last forever.

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The Reasoning and Causation of Anxiety Disorders. (2022, Jun 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 5, 2024, from
“The Reasoning and Causation of Anxiety Disorders.” Edubirdie, 29 Jun. 2022,
The Reasoning and Causation of Anxiety Disorders. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 5 Mar. 2024].
The Reasoning and Causation of Anxiety Disorders [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 29 [cited 2024 Mar 5]. Available from:
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