Anxiety, Somatoform, and Dissociative Disorders

The capacity for an individual to have normal socialization and daily function can be altered in disorders such as; anxiety disorder, somatoform disorder, and dissociative disorder. Each disorder has varying biological, behavioral, emotional, and cognitive components; however, the symptoms in each of these disorders can overlap into another disorder. Identifying these components is important for abnormal psychology to develop more accurate therapeutic treatment for these and many other disorders. Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental disorders that are experienced by Americans. While anxiety is a normal reaction to stress, it becomes a disorder when the anxiety becomes excessive and affects a person’s day to day living. Anxiety disorders are said to be caused by a variation of genetic, environmental, psychological, and developmental factors. Anxiety disorders usually get worse if they are not treated after a six month period. The symptoms are basically excessive or irrational fear or dread.

Anxiety disorders are typically seen with other mental or physical disorders. Anxiety disorders are often treated with medication or psychotherapy (NIMH, 2013). Anxiety Disorders are classified into different groups. These classifications include; separation anxiety disorder, selective mutism, specific phobias such as; animal, natural environment, blood-injury-injection, situational, and social; panic attack, generalized anxiety disorder, anxiety disorder due to medical condition, and substance/medication-induced anxiety (American Psychiatry Association, 2013).

Components of Anxiety Disorder Biological The function of inherited factors that predisposition an individual to anxiety disorders, the limbic system, neural transmission, autoimmune processes, and the autonomic nervous system are looked at in the biological component of anxiety disorder. Due to the fact that anxiety produces physical reactions in people, the biological component addresses the stimulation or activation of the nervous system along with predispositions, hormonal and neuro-chemical malfunctions (Schimelpfening, 2009).

Underlying concerns and experiences that an individual has not openly addressed is the emotional components focus. Some psychologists think that anxiety disorders may be caused by extreme levels of pain or sadness that resulted from relationships with parents in early life. It is thought that when an individual starts to experience anxiety in later life it could be the result of sadness and/or disappointment in oneself. Many psychologists believe it is this underlying condition that is the prelude to developing an anxiety disorder.

Cognitive Classic symptoms of anxiety disorders are negative views of self and the environment, along with a pessimistic attitude. The cognitive component believes that anxiety disorders are the result of a maladaptive process of thought along with dysfunctional cognitive schemas. An individual that is suffering from anxiety disorder often interprets situations wrong and focuses on perceived dangers that are average (Damour & Hansell, 2013) Behavioral Voluntary and involuntary actions are both looked at in the behavioral component of anxiety disorder.

When a situation makes a person anxious they tend to avoid any situation that is similar in the future. This habit tends to perpetuate the anxiety. The unrelenting anxiety can lead to many different symptoms that may or may not include rigid, patterned behavior and inappropriate fear in average situations (Damour & Hansell, 2013). Dissociative Disorders Dissociative disorders are named for their cause of dissociation from a person’s aspect of waking consciousness. Dissociation is thought to be used as a coping mechanism in individuals who have experienced a traumatic experience.

Dissociative disorders are also seen in many other disorders. Treatment for this disorder is often a combination of medication and psychosocial therapy (NAMI, 2000). Dissociative disorders are classified into different disorders. These classifications include; dissociative identity disorder, dissociative amnesia, dissociative fugue, depersonalization/derealization disorder, other specific dissociative disorders and unspecified dissociative disorders (American Psychiatry Association, 2013). Somatoform Disorders

Somatoform disorders are mental disorders that often cause pain and other bodily symptoms that cannot be traced back to physical abuse or medical condition. Somatoform disorders are typically not caused by substance abuse nor other mental disorders. Individuals who suffer from somatoform disorders are not faking the pain or other problems and they can cause a significant affect in one’s daily life. Treatment for this disorder focuses on improving daily life and minimizing stress. Cognitive behavioral therapy may be used to relieve symptoms (Chang, 2012). Somatoform disorders are classified into different disorders.

These classifications include; Somatic symptom disorder which is specified with predominant pain and if it is persistent, along with its severity; Illness anxiety disorder, specified with care seeking or care avoidant type; Conversion disorder, specified by weakness or paralysis, abnormal movement, swallowing symptoms, speech symptoms, attacks or seizures, anesthesia or sensory loss, special sensory symptoms, mixed symptoms, they are further classified if they are acute, episode, persistent, and with or without a psychological stressor; psychological factors affecting other medical conditions, factitious disorder, other specified somatic symptoms, and unspecified somatic symptoms (American Psychiatry Association, 2013).

Components of Dissociative and Somatoform Disorders Biological Researchers believe that there is a genetic link between those with dissociative and somatoform disorders, because family members also have or had similar conditions. Individuals who are sensitive to physical or mental sensations are often more likely to develop one of these disorders. There is a higher association of dissociative disorder and somatoform disorders with panic, depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorders. (Damour & Hansell, 2013). Emotional

Those diagnosed with Dissociative and Somatoform disorders often report more traumatization. Somatoform disorder may be the cause of physical and sexual trauma, while dissociative disorder is often caused by a sexual or physical trauma although not all patients have abusive traumas in their history (Damour & Hansell, 2013). Cognitive Dissociative and somatoform disorders usually include a loss of memory, generally containing of certain periods of time, events, or people. The people often experienced a detachment from themselves and/or have a distorted view of their environment (Damour & Hansell, 2013). Behavioral There is an association between emotional well-being and physical pain.

The behavior that a person tends to use to adapt to the circumstance varies. Chronic pain and/or traumatization often affect ones behavior and lifestyle in a significant amount, often interfering with normal functioning (Damour & Hansell, 2013). Case Study- The Case of Paul- The 9-11 Attack Paul grew up in an average middle class home. He had good relationships with his mother, father, and his brother. Paul loved to play with his father, cook with his mother, and spend time in the treehouse with his brother. However, Paul’s life changed on September 11, 2001 when a terrorist attack hit the World Trade Center. Paul went to kindergarten just about a block away from the World Trade Center.

Paul’s mom worked in the Trade Center on the 77th floor, and his dad was a NYC firefighter. Paul’s kindergarten was never evacuated and Paul was caught under a metal file cabinet, he spent some time in ICU with broken ribs and burns on his legs. Paul’s father was caught in the debris as the north tower fell and his mother’s body was never found. Paul lost interest in all the things that he once loved to do and he separated himself from loved ones. Paul was diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (Meyer, Chapman, & Weaver, 2009). Biological Component In Paul’s case he may have had a predisposition, but it wasn’t apparent in his parents. Paul could have suffered from a neuro-chemical malfunction after the accident.

Paul’s personality changed after the accident which could have also had something to do with the autonomic nervous system. Emotional Component Paul never really asked or talked about what happened that day. He never seemed to want to address losing his parents or what happened to him. These would be underlying experiences and concerns that Paul never openly addressed. It is obvious that when you look at Paul’s case you see there was an extreme level of pain and sadness that resulted from his accident and losing his parents in the same day. Cognitive Component After the accident it is more than likely that Paul had a negative view of his environment.

After that day Paul began to see life as the accident. He would recreate it while playing with his Legos, often building tall towers and then crashing then down with his hands. Behavioral Component In anxiety disorders when a situation makes a person nervous they tend to avoid the situation. In Paul’s case he did not like to talk about what happened at all. He also did not like to be cared for. To avoid losing a loved one again Paul would become angry when someone was caring toward him. Paul also dissociated himself from his brother as well as other family and friends. The thought of losing another loved one was a very anxious causing thought for Paul, hence his behavior.

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