Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is an emotion that protects us from danger and also stops us from engaging in dangerous activities that could cause physical harm, even death. It has survival benefits for the individual and the species.

Anxiety is closely related to the stress response identified and described by Hans Selye and involves the activation of neuroanatomical structures in the limbic system. According to
LeDoux (1998) there are two neural pathways involved in producing the emotion of fear (anxiety) both invoving the amygdala. The first is fast but inaccurate and involves the sensory thalamus and the amygdala, the second is slower but more accurate and involves the sensory cortex as well.

However, when levels of anxiety are very high they stop being an adaptive response to threats in the environment and become maladaptive for the individual experiencing them. Anxiety disorders are classified under the
DSM-IV-TR (APA 2000) category of neurotic and stress-related disorders.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD is a chronic maladaptive condition. It involves intrusive thoughts that harm will occur if the person does not perform certain acts or rituals. The performance of these acts or rituals reduces the anxiety caused by these thoughts. For example, fear of contamination is a common source of anxiety in OCD. Behaviour to reduce this anxiety includes repeated washing and cleaning. This ritualised behaviour can lead to significant problems including physical harm.

The video clip below is the trailer for 'Matchstick Men'. In this film Nicolas Cage plays a con-artist who suffers from O.C.D.

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