The Associations between Anxiety and Psychological and Biological Factors Many people believe that anxiety exists in the occasions that give you a lot of stress. Presence of anxiety is mainly due to the environmental elements. In my opinion, anxiety is a result of imbalance of internal states of human being rather that purely caused by environmental factors. The external environment only triggers the disequilibrium of mental status but not all the person will experience anxiety under a same stressful situation. But first, we must understand what anxiety is and how it is formed.
In this report, some case studies in General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) help to illustrate my point. First of all, anxiety is a combination of different emotions like nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worrying. It is different from stress. Stress is only an unpleasant state in our body and leads to some biological arousal such as increase in heart beat rate and breathing rate. Stress can be caused by several kind of emotion like nervous, embarrass or fear which is usually caused by external stimulus. Stress will disappear without the presence of the stimulus. However, for anxiety, formation of tress is more than environmental irritation.
Under the same situation, some people will feel anxious but some may not. Different person have different level of stress and anxiety towards same stimulus. Thus, there must be something other than external causes in appearance on anxiety. It may be more related to the cognition of the person which is how the person Judge and value an object or issue as different people have various perceptions and determinations. In understanding which type of person with certain kind of Judgment tends to experience anxiety rather than Just tress, psychological factor including ego and personality can give an explanation to this phenomenon.
Other than psychological aspect, some biological factors also lead to creation of anxiety in GAD patients. First of all, anxiety tends to associate with ego. A person with a weaker ego tends to experience stronger anxiety in high frequency. It can be explained by the model proposed by Sigmund Freud. Ego is to please the id which is referred to humans basic instincts, sex and aggressive, and at the same time it also mediate id with superego which is the moral of human beings. Ego helps maintain a healthy and stable psychological state and solve the internal conflicts between id and superego.
When the internal conflicts cannot be solved, anxiety will appears which is an unhealthy emotions affecting people’s behaviors. There are several factors leading to a weak ego but the main concern is the childhood development of the person which is further illustrated by a Neo-Freudian psychiatrist Harry Stack Sullivan. In Sullivan findings, person with unhealthy growth in childhood block one in building a healthy ego and hence affecting the developing healthy personality. People have unpleasant experience in childhood may result in stronger id or weaker superego.
So, ego is not able to balance them and affect the development of healthy personality. Their behaviors may deviate from social norms which make them feel anxious when receiving negative consequences. Also, when people receive condition parental love, they tend to have weaker ego and lower self-esteem. Since their parents only express their cares to the children when they have good performance, they cannot accept their faults and always attribute the reason of failure towards homeless. Once they cannot fulfill their expectations or goals, they will suspect their own abilities and afraid of being blame by others.
They overlook the environmental factors and overestimate personal factors. Ego is being destroyed as the central value has been doubted or even denied. This can explain the reason of people having weak ego and unhealthy personality tends to experience intense anxiety in higher frequency and thus proving the association between ego and anxiety. In a recent research done by Assai and her group mates (201 1), it reveals the relation between psychological and behavioral control and self-reported GAD symptoms. It is found that children’s behaviors are greatly influenced by parents.
Conditional love is actually a kind of parental control that love will be given only following parents’ instruction. Under this circumstances, children do not receive chance to develop ego and understand who they are and what they really want to do. They over-rely on their family and thus cannot bearing risk. When they step out into school or society, they have to deal with different challenges individually. Therefore, heir ability to handle problems will be lower and thus experience higher stress level. Some of them may even anxious about things do not have to worry.
It shows that excessive parental control which is an unhealthy childhood development leads to the symptoms of over-reaction toward a minor issue. Even though the object or event is still ambiguous and not imposing direct danger to the person, (s)he is daddy interpret it as a threat and (s)he cannot adore anymore. Anxiety arouses and interfere the normal behaviors. In the studies carried by Boston Children’s Hospital, children with GAD will anxious in true events, past behaviors, social acceptance, family matters, personal abilities and perceived personal.
It has no “on-off’ switch for the worries and they tend to get extreme perceptions. For normal children, they will still have these worries but it usually appears in the present of certain stimulus or occasions which trigger your thought. Stress on them is specified on targeted issue and will disappear after all. However, children with GAD are not easy to relax and concentrate since the stimulus for their worries refer to lower self-esteem and weaker ego which permanently exists before any changing to improve it. In the world, most of people have healthy and happy childhood period.
Nevertheless, some of them still get anxious frequently. The appearance of anxiety seems not only associated with ego. In biological field, scientist studied the heredity of which characteristics, both superior and inferior, can be carried down to next generation. Personality can also be inherited by parents. People with type A personality is ambitious, rigidly, sensitive, impatient. They cannot easily accept failure. A little setback will trigger their nervousness and take precautions in order to turn the thing back to correct track. In there words, they have low adaptability and over-react to changes.
They will have relatively higher stress level than normal person. Type A personality can be genetically inhered by last generation but also be shaped by environment. People staying at the high tension state over a long period of time, they will more likely feel anxious. For example, people work in the company which required high accuracy and stable performance with long working hours. They will experience extremely high level of stress for long time. They afraid of the consequences of making a mistake and thus need to double check and make sure everything is competed and correct before submitting to boss.
Those people may have chance to become perfectionism which they will force themselves act perfectly at any moment. They may be rigid that they cannot handle problem in a more flexible way. They will be impatient and try to finish all the cases as fast as they can. They are not able to relax and anxious of something that does not need to worry about at that time. Moreover, the deficiency of brain may also leads to anxiety. Some of GAD patients are diagnosed that part of the brain component or levels of neurotransmitters are abnormal. In psychological studies, neurotransmitters are important in regulating humans behaviors and mental health.
Especially for GAB, serotonin and endorphins, they are relatively significant in maintaining emotions. GAB is an inhibitory neurotransmitter which contributes to canceling the effects of the excitatory SSP. Decrease in level of GAB leads to anxiety as the person will always has high activity level in brain transmission and keep him at a relatively high tension state. Serotonin involves in regulation of sleep and wakefulness, eating and aggression. Abnormal amount of serotonin leads to difficulty in getting sufficient rest and become aggressive. Endorphins help to relief pain and some pleasurable emotions.
Lacking of endorphins make the person hard to neither enter into positive emotions nor eliminate the negative moods. The person will become irritable and sensitive and thus not able to relax. A GAD patient, James, whose brain was not functioning well and having imbalance level of various neurotransmitters, turned him into an anxious person. He was easily distracted by minor thing and often nervous. He could not sleep well and complained of headache. It serious disturbed his cognition and he could not have clear mind to make Judgment. He might than always has bad performance which brings him stress again.
Other than neurotransmitter, defective in brain also cause the instability of emotion. Other than abnormal level of neurotransmitters, James also suffered from malfunction of temporal lobe located in cerebrum which processes and coordinates stimuli received for learning, thinking, remembering and conscious awareness. Temporal lobe is responsible in process of various sounds and sights stimuli and managing the long term memory storage. As a result, he had difficulties in memorizing instructions and recognizing the work. He always forgot simple procedures.
By comparing to normal person that can finish targets, James tends to have weak self-esteem and thus give a lot of pressure and blame himself of the failure. Besides, malfunction of some emotion centers such as magical also lead to GAD. Researchers have found that some GAD patients have larger volume of magical. Magical plays a central role in the fear response and aggression. Also, it promotes the fight or flight response which they person will either attack or escape hen facing dangerous. The enlarged magical is easier be triggered to alter people and hence creating fear and aggression.
It can explain why the patient will feel anxious to stimuli which do not carry any threat. Brain activity is influenced by the magical so that they always get nervous. Therefore, existence of anxiety is affected by the brain structures. All people experience stress but people with psychological or biological problems tends to develop anxiety over same level of pressure. People act differently towards under the same environment the aforementioned evidence and studies suggest a utter way to understand anxiety that psychological and biological factors may have greater association with anxiety.
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