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According to Weston (2010), anxiety disorders were the most common of mental health problems among children and the youth. Sufferers of anxiety disorders often appeared irrational to other people, experienced fear, worry, stress, and heightened feelings. Normally, anxiety disorders took a variety of forms: panic disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, separation anxiety, and general anxiety disorders. Individuals prone to anxiety disorders became more anxious and fearful after going through distressing events such as family break ups, traumatizing experiences, bereavement, illness, or sickness in the family. Separation anxiety disorder manifested itself in a number of ways: adjustment difficulties, low self-esteem, poor socialization skills, sleep deprivation, emotional detachment, lack of concentration, and reduction in self-confidence. Anxiety disorders in were especially acute among children; and their negative effects spilt into their adult life.
The greatest contributor to mental disorders to both children and adults was traumatic experiences (Murphy, 2010). Research by Murphy (2010) in the US showed that women and children suffered more traumas due to experience in comparison to men. Most of the traumas experienced by women were traceable to post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, separation anxiety, and general anxiety. Research by Smith, Ingram, and Adams (2009) in a related field focusing on anxiety among the aged, found that most of the effects were reversible through early diagnosis. A major hurdle to anxiety disorder assessment among the aged was the assumption by health practitioners that the condition came with age. The belief, which also had backing of the ageists, was highly misleading. The notion that psychological disorders were a manifestation of other physical ailments had resulted in less willingness on the part of health care providers to handle anxiety disorders comprehensively among the aged. Effects of psychosomatic disorders among the old had profound effects: reduced quality and satisfaction in life, a sense of worthlessness, reduced health, and impaired physical functions.
Pritchard (2011) reminded health care professionals, especially the nurses, that thorough physical and psychological preparation was necessary before the patients underwent treatment. Health care experts were able to establish that surgical treatment was a major source of anxiety among patients. The research found anxiety responsible for increased pulse rate, higher blood pressure, and sweating. Behavioral effects of post-surgery anxiety included aggressiveness, need for constant attention, nervousness, and apprehension about their mental abilities of discernment and reasoning. Surgery related anxiety also made the affected lose control, and have intense fear of death and the unknown. Hospitalization and isolation following surgery was detrimental to the patient’s health and resulted in psychological disorders like loss of self-esteem.
Kristin (2010) defined anxiety as a form of sensitivity where an individual developed fear of body sensation. Most people experienced occasional health focused thoughts because of the high importance they gave to their physical well-being. Watching people suffering from serious medical conditions also contributed greatly to anxiety. Anxiety sensitivity was an individual’s response to anxiety symptoms, and was a psychological risk factor of panic disorders. Further evidence suggested that anxiety sensitivity also caused chronic pain, tinnitus, and both clinical and nonclinical anxieties.
Research unveiled that anxiety sensitivity was a major link between childhood and adulthood anxiety. Anxiety sensitivity, therefore, seemed like a thought-related tendency to perceive harmless bodily signs as life-threatening conditions. The unfounded health concerns led to fear and use of safety behaviors to reduce anxiety (Abramowitz, Berman, and Wheaton, 2010). In a research conducted by Ho and Lau (2011) on cultural bias of Asian-American students in college, results revealed that ethnicity balanced personal relationships. Anxiety symptoms impaired social performance, and were associated with problems involving interpersonal functioning, which in turn promoted social fear. Lack of assertion and suppression of emotions were a causal effect of dysfunction in interpersonal relationship. People suffering from social anxiety received ratings of less likability and effectiveness in interpersonal relationships; and experienced lower quality of life.
Harvard Medical School (2011), in a letter addressing anxiety disorder and treatment, claimed that anxiety resulted from excessive brain function, resulting from heightened activity of the fight-flight response. The letter also claimed that the disorder was associated with devastating worry and unfounded agitation. Physical expression of anxiety disorder was through racing heart, dry mouth, upset stomach, muscular tension, and irritability. Findings showed that these manifestations of anxiety were adverse to the patient’s health. Heart attacks resulted from the effects of anxiety and other cardiovascular problems. Relaxation techniques, medication, psychotherapy, psychodynamic therapy were the common remedies available to alleviate the negative effects of anxiety disorders. Medications used were mainly antidepressants and benzodiazepines, which affected the brain’s arousal, the person’s mood, and anxiety. Medications of anxiety disorders had side effects such as insomnia, sexual problems, and weight gain. Due to the harmful side effects of medication, behavioral therapy and psychotherapy were more effective in the treatment of anxiety disorder. In the behavioral approach to treatment of anxiety disorders, patients learnt to counter behaviors that advanced anxiety disorders like learning how to solve problems, set goals, model, and play rehearsed roles.
According to Smeeding, Bradshaw, Kumpfer, Trevithick, and Stoddard (2010), veterans were at higher risk of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder because of constant exposure to military conflict. The writers mentioned that 25% of the soldiers returning from Afghanistan and Iraq war who received mental health diagnosis suffered from primary anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other behavioral and psychological problems. Chronic pain resulted from patient’s perception of pain related sensations as life threatening. The unusual feelings about pain were due to exacerbated fear response. Psychological and pharmacological therapies showed moderate success in the treatment of post-traumatic stress disorders. Treatments such as yoga, acupuncture, aquatic bodywork, stress management, hypnosis, and meditation indicated greater success. Of all these methods, however, yoga showed the greatest positive effects, and was associated with better moods and decreased anxiety. The intervention, however, showed that change in metabolism was not solely responsible for the improved mood or less anxiety, a synergistic effect due to better thought and body awareness were also important in the positive effects observed (Streeter, 2010). Therapy generally promoted self-efficacy and helped the patients develop control and enhance coping and wellness behaviors.
According to Chemin, Klinger, Nugues, Lauer, Legeron, and Roy (2003), social phobia was the unreasonable or excessive fear of social situations, which made interactions with other people bring feelings of self-consciousness, judgment, evaluation, and inferiority. Chemin et al. (2003) described social phobia as fear and anxiety of judgment, and negative evaluation by other people, which led to embarrassment, humiliation, and depression. People suffering from social phobia were especially emotionally distressed when they were being introduced to other people, being teased or criticized, facing people with some sort of authority, social encounters with strangers and so on. The symptoms associated with social phobia included intense fear, racing heart, dry throat, dry mouth, trembling, and swallowing difficulties. Sufferers of social anxiety rarely celebrated holidays, were not reciprocating to smiles, had lower career prospects, and failed in family life. Many patients of social phobia spiraled into self-destruction through alcoholism.
Stone and Wary (2005) claimed that anxiety arose in response to perception of threat to self-esteem. The research showed that self-esteem and anxiety had a strong negative correlation, although the relationship between the two was yet to be uncovered. Many people believed that anxiety was a mechanism, which alerted the individual of problems to do with self-esteem. Others argued that anxiety was a cause of low self-esteem, whereby individuals suffering from anxiety would eventually come to think less of themselves positively thus the low self-esteem. Another way people looked at it was that low self-esteem resulted in hypersensitivity to threats, which caused them to suffer from anxiety. A number of problems were associated with low self-esteem: inability to make decisions, blaming others, depression, poor social life, lack of self-confidence, denial, and inability to define personal boundaries. People with low self-esteem lacked the ability to interact normally with other people out of the feeling that they were inadequate or had the inability to achieve things others were capable of accomplishing with ease.