Anxiety Disorders Thesis

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¶ … anxiety disorders have been increasingly cited by healthcare practitioners as being one of the most serious health problems, exceeding even physical medical conditions, facing adolescents and young adults in the United States. The purpose of this study was to provide a critical review of the relevant peer-reviewed literature concerning anxiety disorders among adolescents and young adults in general and in the United States in particular to determine its prevalence, diagnosis, treatment and implications for clinicians and to apply these findings to an individual case of anxiety disorder in an adolescent client. Although anxiety is a natural human emotion that affects everyone from time to time, for most people the condition is temporary and resolves itself in short order. In some others, though, anxiety can become a lingering and persistent condition in ways that make normal functioning difficult or even impossible. The research showed that adverse health consequences of untreated anxiety can range from milder manifestations of the problem such as poor relationships with peers and a negative impact on academic outcomes to life-threatening conditions such as increased suicidal behaviors. Fortunately, there are some diagnostic tools and treatments available for anxiety disorders among adolescents and young adults that have been shown to be effective in helping young people overcome this potentially serious condition.

Effective Treatment of Anxiety for Adolescents and Young Adults

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Thesis on Anxiety Disorders Have Been Increasingly Cited by Assignment

One of the unfortunate consequences of the human condition is the universality of anxiety disorders. Indeed, people of all ages and walks of life will typically experience the adverse effects of anxiety at some point in their lives, but for most people, the effects are transient and do not result in significant adverse mental health conditions. For some young people, though, the powerful effects of unrelenting anxiety can create a wide range of healthcare issues that, left untreated, can even become life threatening. Furthermore, because of the lack of relevant life experiences and inadequately developed coping skills among younger people, the adverse effects of anxiety can be even more significant for adolescents and young adults. When combined with the substance-abusing behaviors that are characteristic of the experimental phases of life for many adolescents and young adults, anxiety disorders can produce even more serious healthcare concerns. Fortunately, some effective treatments have been identified for the treatment of anxiety disorders in adolescents and young adults, including clinical interventions such as cognitive-behavioral therapies as well as physical fitness regimens that are designed to counter the negative effects of an increasingly sedentary lifestyle that is conducive to the onset of anxiety disorders. To determine the definition, diagnostic criteria, causes, symptoms and treatment of anxiety disorders in adolescents and young adults, this paper provides a review of the relevant peer-reviewed literature, followed by a summary of the research in the conclusion and implications for clinicians in the application section.

Review of the Relevant Literature

Definition and Diagnosis of Anxiety

Life in the 21st century is certainly no piece of cake, and it is little wonder than so many young people are anxious about their current lives as well as what the future holds for them. Indeed, following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, young people today are confronted with a constant barrage of alternating color-coded threat levels, many observers are predicting the end of the world in 2012 and popular media sources such as the History Channel have contributed to a culture of fear in the United States today. As a result, the prevalence of anxiety disorders among adolescents and young adults is truly staggering and its impact can be long-lasting and interfere with an individual's ability to function normally throughout the lifespan. In this regard, McLoone, Hudson and Rapee (2006) report that, "Research suggests that adolescents with anxiety disorders face an increased risk of experiencing anxiety, depression, illicit drug dependence, and educational underachievement in early adulthood. These risks remain even when socio-familial and individual factors are controlled" (p. 219). In fact, anxiety disorders represent some of the most common and serious issues facing young people today. For instance, according to Mcloone and her associates, "Given the frequency and potential negative consequences of anxiety disorders, it is no surprise that anxiety disorders have been named as one of the greatest health problems (exceeding most physical health problems) in terms of global burden of disease" (2006, p. 219). Taken together, the foregoing observations concerning the prevalence and significant adverse impact of anxiety on young people should represent a call to action for clinicians seeking to treat this population, but there are some significant constraints and obstacles involved in accurately diagnosing an anxiety disorder in general and in younger people in particular that must be taken into account in a clinical setting.

There are some subjective assessments involved in the diagnosis of anxiety in adolescents and young adults, but Mcloone et al. indicate that anxiety disorders are typically characterized by an irrational dread of a situation or stimulus that is unreasonably excessive for an individual's age but does not quantify these in any fashion. In addition, Mcloone et al. emphasize that for a diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder to be appropriate, anxiety is almost always present following an exposure to a phobic stimulus or a feared situation, and here at least the guidance is quantifiable in that the resulting condition must persist for at least 6 months in order to qualify as an anxiety disorder. In addition, there are some physical manifestations of anxiety that can help guide the clinician in diagnosis. For example, anxiety disorders frequently involve physical symptoms, particularly during the most salient period of exposure to a phobic stimulus or feared situation. Finally, some of the typical symptoms of anxiety that can help identify anxiety disorders in young people include restlessness, fatigue, difficulty in concentrating, irritability, muscle tension, nausea, or sleep disturbances (Mcloone et al.). Because it is reasonable to posit that everyone exhibits these symptoms from time to time, though (especially adolescents and young adults), it is important to differentiate a transient episode of say, irritability, with those symptoms that are characteristic of anxiety disorders. In this regard, in order for a diagnosis of anxiety to be appropriate, the affected individuals must experience interference with their daily functioning as a result of heightened worry, physical symptoms, or anxious behaviors (Mcloone et al.).

When it comes to accurately diagnosing anxiety disorders in young people, though, clinicians will likely be confronted with a number of other behavioral issues that may further confound the picture. In this regard, Mcloone et al. emphasize that, "Despite the anxiety disorders having distinct diagnostic criteria, there is a great deal of overlap in presenting profiles and anxiety disorders are characterized by high levels of comorbidity" (2006, p. 220). Indeed, young people may have problems with eating disorders, substance abuse or other behavioral conditions that will contribute to their anxiety disorder but will make distinguishing one disorder from another problematic. For example, according to a study by Kelly, Donovan, Cornelius, Bukstein, Delbridge and Clark (2003), "Substance use disorders, especially cannabis use disorders, are prevalent among adolescents" (p. 616). Although physical injuries are not as prevalent with cannabis abuse as with alcohol abuse (Kelly et al., 2003), D'Amico and her associates (2005) emphasize that, "Psychiatric distress is associated with an alcohol use disorder, with mental disorders at age 15 leading to elevated risk of cannabis use at age 18 and anxiety disorders during adolescence [that are] predictive of alcohol disorders in early young adulthood" (p. 767). Furthermore, both prescription (such as asthma inhalers and diet pills) and nonprescription drugs (such as decongestants and caffeine in coffee, chocolate and carbonated drinks) can produce symptoms that mimic anxiety, complicating an accurate diagnosis (Kalapatapu & Schmetzer, 2008). What is known for certain, though, is that adolescents and young adults who engage in substance-abusing behaviors and subsequently develop anxiety-related disorders may find themselves trapped in a vicious circle later in life as well. For example, D'Amico and her associates emphasize that, "Young adults who have experienced mental-health or conduct problems early in life may also be at risk through this same process, engaging in high levels or problematic patterns of substance use when they leave their parents' home, which continues into later adulthood" (p. 767).

Besides eating and substance abuse disorders, personality disorders that involve major depressive episodes are also frequently diagnosed in adolescents who suffer from anxiety disorders (Stanard, 2000). In fact, as Turchik, Karpenko and Ogles (2007) emphasize, "It is important to keep in mind that comorbidity is more a rule than an exception in children and adolescents who present to outpatient clinical settings" (p. 120). This observation is congruent with the findings presented by Armstrong, Dedrick and Greenbaum (2003) as well. Based on their analysis of 292 adolescent and young adult participants in the longitudinal National Adolescent and Child Treatment Study, Armstrong and her associates determined that substance abuse was the most common diagnosis for the study's participants (17- to 25-year-olds), followed by diagnoses of anxiety and depressive disorders; in addition, criminal behaviors were also shown to be… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Anxiety Disorders" Thesis in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Anxiety Disorders.  (2009, September 28).  Retrieved January 26, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Anxiety Disorders."  28 September 2009.  Web.  26 January 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Anxiety Disorders."  September 28, 2009.  Accessed January 26, 2021.