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Is There Strong Evidence For The Use Of Psychological Therapy For Treating Anxiety Disorders?

2078 words - 8 pages

Is there strong evidence for the use of psychological therapy for treating anxiety disorders?Anxiety is an emotion that all humans feel from time to time. However, an overwhelming feeling of anxiety, including fear, discomfort and apprehension, over every day or imagined events is when this feeling becomes a disorder. Anxiety disorders can be triggered by something that seems trivial to others. This continuous feeling of fear can impose on daily functioning making it hard for sufferers to live a normal life. Anxiety disorders have many different symptoms including physical symptoms, such as problems sleeping, muscle tension, dry mouth and palpitations, and psychological symptoms, such as uncontrollable, obsessive thoughts, nightmares and emotional numbness.Anxiety disorder is a blanket term for many different disorders such as, panic disorder, phobias, post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive, compulsive disorder.Panic disorder is a sudden feeling of terror that comes about without any warning. A phobia is the fear of a stimulus to a level that is inappropriate. This phobia may lead a person to avoid a situation that may trigger the phobia. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can develop after a traumatic event, such as sexual assault or the unexpected death of a loved one. Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is where a person performs ritualistic routines as a way of dealing with obsessive, disturbing thoughts. There are many forms of treatment for anxiety disorders. These encompass both psychological and drug therapies. Psychological therapies include: cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), systematic desensitisation, stress inoculation therapy (SIT), flooding, classical conditioning and biofeedback. Drug therapies include: SSRIs, TCAs and MAOIs.Stress inoculation therapy (SIT) is a method whereby patients are taught to understand the negative and unrealistic thoughts that cause the anxiety they feel in a certain situation. They are then taught to relax when they become stressed by imagining themselves in the situation whilst being taught positive self-instruction, deep-breathing and muscle relaxation. This, in turn, reduces the anxiety they feel and they are therefore able to cope with the situation better. Meichenbaum conducted a study to compare SIT with standard behavioural systematic desensitisation and a control group (1996). He studied exam anxiety in 21 students before and after the therapy had taken place. He found that performance on the Anxiety Adjective Checklist and baseline scores improved in the SIT group compared with the others. This shows SIT to be an effective method of reducing anxiety and this provides evidence for psychological therapy treating anxiety disorders.Classical conditioning is also a way of removing anxiety that is caused through phobias. A phobia, according to the DSM IV, is a persistent and excessive fear and the exposure to the phobic stimulus provokes immediate anxiety. Classical conditioning is where...

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