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Unformatted text preview: general feelings of tension, anxiety, and fatigue and the
sleep disturbances found in this disorder (Andrews & Wilding, 2004).
Take, for example, a classic study that was done on the psychological impact
of living near the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant after the nuclear reactor accident of March 1979 (Baum et al., 2004; Wroble & Baum, 2002). In the
months following the accident, local mothers of preschool children were found
to display five times as many anxiety or depression disorders as mothers living
elsewhere. Although the number of disorders decreased during the next year, the
Three Mile Island mothers still displayed high levels of anxiety or depression a
year later. Similarly, a study conducted more recently found that in the months
and years following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the rate of generalized and other
anxiety disorders was twice as high among area residents who lived through the
disaster as among unaffected persons living elsewhere (Galea et al., 2007).
One of the most powerful forms of societal stress is poverty. People without
financial means are likely to live in run-down communities with high crime rates,
have fewer educational and job opportunities, and run a greater risk for health
problems (López & Guarnaccia, 2008, 2005, 2000). As sociocultural theorists would
predict, such people also have a higher rate of generalized anxiety disorder. In the
United States, the rate is twice as high among people with low incomes as among
those with higher incomes (Kessler et al., 2005; Blazer et al., 1991). As wages decrease, the rate of generalized anxiety disorder steadily increases (see Table 4-2).
Since race is closely tied to income and job opportunity in the United States, it is
not surprising that it is sometimes also tied to the prevalence of generalized anxiety
disorder (Blazer et al., 1991). In any given year approximately 6 percent of all African
Americans suffer from this disorder, compared to 3.1 percent of white Americans.
African American women, perhaps the country’s most socially stressed group, have the
highest rate of all—6.6 percent.
Multicultural researchers have not found a heightened rate of generalized anxiety
disorder among Hispanics in the United States. They have, however, noted that many
Hispanics in both the United States and Latin American suffer from nervios (“nerves”), a Miami Herald, Photo by Chuck Fadely The Sociocultural Perspective:
Societal and Multicultural Factors The role of society
Upon learning that her son was a victim of
a drive-by shooting, a woman collapses in
the arms of relatives at the scene. People
who live in dangerous environments experience greater anxiety and have a higher
rate of generalized anxiety disorder than
those residing in other settings. table: 4 -2 Eye on Culture: Anxiety Disorders
Prevalence of Anxiety Disorders (Compared to Rate in Total Population)
American Elderly Generalized
anxiety disorder Higher Higher Higher Same Higher Specific phobias Higher Higher Higher Higher Low...
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