Understanding Anxiety and Stress from a Behavioural Perspective

behavioural stress and anxiety

This is the third article in a three part series that breaks down our understanding of anxiety and stress from multiple perspectives; biological, cognitive and behavioural. This is important for students learning to study psychology and write academic reports successfully to be able to explore topics from multiple perspectives. This will enable you to create solid arguments that will display the work of a well researched and intelligent student.

If you haven’t already read the first two articles you can find part one and part two within the internal links.

Anxiety initially develops through one-trial classical conditioning where a neutral object for which a person is biologically prepared to develop an extinction resistant fear is paired with a strongly feared object and this object elicits anxiety. Subsequent exposure to the previously neutral object elicits mild anxiety. Repeated brief exposure to this previously neutral object leads to an increase in fear through a process of incubation. Brief exposure leads to anxiety which is effectively paired with the feared object and on the next brief exposure even more fear is elicited. Exposures remain brief, because the feared situation is avoided, and such avoidance behaviour, through a process of operant conditioning, is negatively reinforced, that is, it leads to the cessation of a noxious stimulus.

Incubation is a positive feedback process where, through classical conditioning, fear itself reinforces fear of the phobic object. It’s interesting to note a consistent theme running through some of these models is the situational element of fear; incubation could result from the individuals perception of a feared object or feared situation. According to the Eysenck, repetition plays a key role in the process of incubation.

To conclude, by gaining greater understanding of the etiological approaches to general anxiety disorders through the exploration of biological, cognitive and behavioural model has highlighted a variety of perspectives that shouldn’t be considered in isolation.

It was important to highlight the biological effects of anxiety and stress on the body, as a pretext to understand how so many are suffering from this psychological disorders that become a detrimental effect it can have on an individuals physical health.

Gaining the correct diagnosis requires specified treatment but that’s not always the case as cheaper and quicker (in the short term) options to provide pharmaceuticals solutions as oppose to therapies; the treatment of anxiety disorders has been dominated by the anti-anxiety drugs such as librium and valium.

Finally it’s positive to note increased awareness and suffering has empowered non- academics to write editorial and produce content such as ‘The Mighty’, an editorial site that enables users to write their story and produces high quality content with high profile ambassadors, video example with reference list that brings symptoms of anxiety and depression to life.

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