In the updated edition, hypochondriasis and several related conditions have been replaced by two new, empirically derived concepts: somatic symptom disorder and illness anxiety disorder. To meet the criteria for somatic symptom disorder, patients must have one or more chronic somatic symptoms about which they are excessively concerned, preoccupied or fearful. These fears and behaviors cause significant distress and dysfunction, and although patients may make frequent use of health care services, they are rarely reassured and often feel their medical care has been inadequate.
Patients with illness anxiety disorder may or may not have a medical condition but have heightened bodily sensations, are intensely anxious about the possibility of an undiagnosed illness, or devote excessive time and energy to health concerns, often obsessively researching them. Like people with somatic symptom disorder, they are not easily reassured.
Illness anxiety disorder can cause considerable distress and life disruption, even at moderate levels. The new classifications have been criticized as overly broad and likely to lead to increased mental health diagnoses in the medically ill.
But Jeffrey P. Staab, M. He points out that thousands of patients were diagnosed with stress ulcers before the discovery of Helicobacter pylori. Prior historical periods of war and social upheaval have also generated reflections on anxiety; therefore it is incumbent upon us to develop our understanding of anxiety culture as a useful heuristic for understanding the contemporary moment and some of the troubles we attach to it. As Anders Blok has recently insisted, middle range theorizing is concerned with the production of concepts that satisfy both empirical and theoretical ambitions.
Put another way, middle range theorizing aims to produce concepts with enough theoretical grounding to move past a purely descriptive practice while at the same time retaining enough of an empirical grounding to resist the universalizing tendencies of social theory. As will become evident in the following section, anxiety culture brings a specific set of concerns to contemporary life, particularly those surrounding the experience or discussion of threats and dangers.
However, it can be situated within a field of modern social theory that is motivated by overlapping interests.
DSM-5 redefines hypochondriasis
The first such area is how to understand the role that fear plays in the contemporary world, both as a personal experience and as a social mood. The German sociologist Heinz Bude argues that an understanding of fear as a social mood must displace our tendency to reduce it to a biographical event or clinical diagnosis. One important methodological consequence of studying an unstable object is the avoidance of grand theories and the application of middle range concepts to a diverse set of social phenomena.
Joshua Yates summarizes the general picture thusly:. These include the very means by which many of the old goods were in fact attained. Nowhere is such a reversal felt more strongly than in the domain of climate change, where the high quality of life produced by industrialization is now seen as the primary agent in the endangerment of the very conditions sustaining life. We view anxiety culture as residing in this cluster of middle range theories, but making an important contribution by attending to the tangle of concepts and experiences that constitute our understanding of anxiety — fear, uncertainty, risk, threats and dangers, crisis, and the unsettling of our most basic human claims to stability.
There are areas of scholarly inquiry, such as technology, climate change, population health, and migration, which pose the question of anxiety culture in distinctive ways with different disciplinary imperatives. However, we believe it is more accurate to view these areas as interdisciplinary clusters instead of reducing them to distinct disciplinary traditions.
Anxiety Culture: The New Global State of Human Affairs? – EuropeNow
When approached through the lens of anxiety culture, their programs interpenetrate in substantive ways. For example, questions of security and education can be meaningfully taken up in any of the clusters, and when these questions are attached to the conceptual field of anxiety culture important interdisciplinary work will follow. We therefore would like to conclude by sketching in a very provisional manner what such work would look like by fixing upon education, with the caveat that this by no means exhausts all of the avenues for a robust research agenda driven by an investigation of anxiety culture and education.
However, as a middle range concept, anxiety culture can yield a more specific set of research questions surrounding the current state of education. In our view, one of the major contributors to anxiety within educative processes is the overloading of educational institutions, especially public institutions, with the responsibility to adequately frame and manage these threats and dangers for students. In people with anxiety disorders, the brain circuitry that controls the threat response seems to go awry: The amygdala, a structure that detects danger, can become overactive, triggering a threat when none really exists.
Anxiety is often treated successfully through a combination of therapy and medication. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most effective options, in which patients learn to identify problematic thought patterns and change how they respond.
More recently, mindfulness meditation has also emerged as an effective technique to disperse anxious thoughts and cultivate a sense of calm. Anxiety often involves worrying to an intense, excessive degree. Those worries can apply to any aspect of life, from social situations and family dynamics to physical health and professional concerns. A person's angst or dread can be drastically out of proportion to the actual challenges he or she is facing.
People may also irrationally believe that the worst-case scenario is inevitable. Individuals suffering from anxiety may feel restless, on edge, and irritable.
They may have difficulty concentrating or controlling their emotions. Physical symptoms can also include fatigue, trembling, trouble sleeping, stomachaches, headaches, and muscle tension. Stress , Catastrophizing. Anxiety disorders can often be addressed successfully with a combination of therapy and medication. Patients may undergo psychotherapy —talk therapy tailored to their specific anxieties and the root of those fears. Cognitive behavioral therapy is one of the most effective options for anxiety disorders. The practice teaches patients to challenge their distorted thought patterns to change how they respond.
Social anxiety can benefit from exposure therapy, in which patients are safely and gradually exposed to their fears so they no longer need to avoid them. Medication can help patients control their anxiety, but they cannot cure the underlying condition. Clinicians may prescribe benzodiazepines for limited periods of time, which have the benefit of working quickly to relieve anxiety.
Beta-blockers offer another short-term solution, as they can curb troubling symptoms such as a racing heartbeat or trembling hands for a specific event. Anti-depressants , such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or tricyclics, are used as a longer-term treatment and can take a few weeks or months to work. As with all medications, patients should consult a doctor to understand the side effects of a particular drug and to safely transition on and off of the medication.
What Are Anxiety Disorders?
Habits such as exercising, sleeping well, and limiting the amount of caffeine and alcohol consumed can all be helpful. Increasingly, researchers are finding that mindfulness meditation is a successful technique as well. Identifying the circumstances that trigger one's anxiety, and then pushing back against anxious or irrational thoughts, can help to feel better prepared for the future. By Alice Boyes Ph. Smart people often make these strategic errors in handling anxiety.
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