Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) About 10-35% people who experience trauma have four weeks to a lifetime of: o Intrusive, distressing recollections of the event o Nightmares o Social withdrawal o Jumpy anxiety or hypervigilance (easily startled) o Sleep problems (insomnia) Causes – natural disaster (hurricane), war, rape, personal crime Understanding Anxiety Disorders Classical Conditioning and Anxiety Learned associations – a certain object/place and feeling of fear o Little Albert learned to feel fear around a rabbit because he had been conditioned to associate the bunny with a loud scary noise Sometimes, such a conditioned response becomes over-generalized o We may begin to fear all animals, everything fluffy, any location where we had seen those, or even fear that those items could appear soon along with the noise. Operant Conditioning and Anxiety Feeling anxious in a situation? Leave. Avoidance reduces anxiety and reinforces it. o If we know we have locked a door but feel anxious and compelled to re-check, rechecking will help us temporarily feel better. The result is an increase in anxious thoughts and behaviors.
Observational Learning and Anxiety Humans and monkeys learn fears by observing others . If you see someone else avoiding or fearing some object or creature, you might pick up that fear and adopt it even after the original scared person is not around. o Nearly all monkeys reared in the wild fear snakes, but lab-reared monkeys do not. Cognition and Anxiety Cognition includes worried thoughts, as well as interpretations, appraisals, beliefs, predictions, and ruminations. Cognition also includes hypervigilance – persistently watching out for danger Examples of cognitions that worsen anxiety: o Cognitive errors , such as believing that we can predict that bad events will happen. o Irrational beliefs , such as “bad things don’t happen to good people, so if I was hurt, I must be bad.” o Mistaken appraisals , such as seeing ashes as diseases, noises as dangers, and strangers as threats. o Misinterpretations of facial expressions and actions of others, such as thinking “they’re talking about me.” Biology and Anxiety: An Evolutionary Perspective Human phobic objects: o Snakes, heights, closed spaces, darkness Similar but non-phobic objects: o Fish, low places, open spaces, bright light Dangerous yet non-phobic objects (we are likely to become cautious about but not phobic about) : o Guns, electric wiring, cars Ancestors prone to fear the items on list #1 were more likely to survive and reproduce. Biology and Anxiety: Genes and the Brain Genes o Twin studies – identical twins, even raised separately, develop similar phobias o Some people have inborn high-strung temperament, while others are more easygoing
Temperament may be encoded in our genes o Genes regulate levels of neurotransmitters The Brain o Anxiety disorders include over-arousal of brain areas involved in impulse control and habitual behaviors.
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