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Treatments of Anxiety from Different Schools of Thought to Anxiety

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Anxiety is defined as apprehension, dread, or uneasiness similar to fear but based on an unclear threat. There are several perspectives as to the cause of anxiety. Some of these are behavioral, psychoanalytic/psychodynamic, biological, and cognitive.

Behaviorists believe that anxiety is a learned behavior. The belief is that anxiety attacks may reflect conditioned emotional responses that generalize to new situations. This perspective advocates the use of behavior therapy. This therapy uses learning principles to make constructive changes in behavior. These can include behavior modification, aversion therapy, and desensitization.

From the psychoanalytic perspective, anxiety represents a conflict among the parts of the personality, the id, ego, and superego. The goal of the ego is to make decisions that will please both the id and the superego. When our desires and our moral thoughts collide, great tension and frustration is created in the psyche. Under this perspective, it must take a strong ego to accomplish what it must without decompensating. Psychoanalysis is used to explore these unconscious internal conflicts that lead to emotional suffering. By making unconscious motives conscious, one can regain control over one's behavior.

The biological perspective views anxiety as a result of internal physical, chemical, and biological processes. In this view, all biological processes have a purpose or a function in behavioral or emotional expression. Anxiety has been thought to serve to prepare the body both biologically and psychologically to meet the challenges and conflicts of daily life. It is when the level of anxiety goes beyond the point of being moderate that there is deterioration of performance. At this point, pharmacotherapy is recommended. Susceptibility to high levels of anxiety appears to be partly inherited.

The cognitive approach suggests that distorted thinking causes people to magnify ordinary threats and failures, which leads to anxiety. The person's mind becomes saturated with thoughts or images of a threatening nature. Cognitive therapy is used in this approach to treat the anxiety. This therapy is directed at changing these thoughts, beliefs, and feelings. Cognitive therapy helps to limit the distortions by viewing their worries more realistically, enabling them to make better plans to manage their anxiety.



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