PSY 699 Assignment Examine Biological Factors in Anxiety and Mood Disorders
PSY 699 Assignment Examine Biological Factors in Anxiety and Mood Disorders
Mood and anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illnesses, especially among adolescents and children. These disorders lead to various emotional disabilities and difficulties hence a need to use effective strategies to treat and manage them. In addition, it is important for the practitioners to understand the presentations of these conditions as well as factors that may lead to the conditions for better management and treatment. Even though anxiety disorders and mood disorders share various symptoms, they have various differences, such as the biological factors that contribute to the development of each condition (Janiri et al., 2020). The implication is that mental health practitioners need to have an adequate understanding of such differences as they can be key to helping them make distinctions between the two and, in turn, prescribe the most appropriate and effective treatment and management modality. Therefore, the purpose of this assignment is to compare the biological factors that contribute to anxiety and mood disorders.
Definition of Anxiety Disorders and Mood Disorders
Anxiety disorder entails a group of mental illnesses where an individual frequently experiences persistent, excessive, and intense fear and worry regarding everyday situations. In most cases, the patient experience repeated episodes of abrupt feelings of intense terror or fear and anxiety which then lead to panic attacks (Warner& Strawn, 2023). Individuals with anxiety disorders may try to avoid instances, incidences, or situations which worsen or trigger the anxiety disorder symptoms. There are various types of anxiety disorders, including selective mutism, separation anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, specific phobias, panic disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.
Mood disorders, sometimes called affective disorders, are mental health disorders where an individual experiences emotional disturbances, which consist of extended periods of depression, mania, or in some cases, both (Jones et al.,2020). It is important to note that mania and depression are a representation of the extreme ends of mood disorders. As such, a patient may be diagnosed with a mood disorder in cases where overly intense elation or sadness is accompanied by particular symptoms which impair an individual’s ability to work and effectively function socially or physically. There are various types of mood disorders, including premenstrual dysphoric disorder, persistent depressive disorder, disruptive mood dysregulation disorder, major depressive disorder, hypomania, cyclothymia, and bipolar disorder.
Distinguishing Moodiness or Anxiety from an Actual Mood or Anxiety Disorder
The accuracy in diagnosing these conditions and subsequent successful management needs the mental health practitioner to have adequate knowledge regarding these conditions since, in some cases, a patient may present with moodiness which is not necessarily an actual mood disorder (Jacobson et al., 2019). In addition, an individual may also present with anxiety symptoms which do not necessarily mean an anxiety disorder. The implication is that there is a need to have a clear distinction between such incidence so that a practitioner does not incorrectly diagnose an individual with an anxiety disorder or a mood disorder when, in a real sense, the patient is just anxious or moody, respectively.
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It is important to note that anxiety is usually a normal reaction to a stressful situation or stress, and research has shown that mild anxiety is good in particular situations as it can help people pay attention or make them alert to some dangers. In addition, it is a normal part of life for an individual to experience occasional anxiety. However, it is important to distinguish between normal anxiety and an anxiety disorder. An anxiety disorder is different from just normal feelings of anxiousness or nervousness since it comes with excessive anxiety or fear (Reinholt et al., 2022). While worrying about normal aspects of life such as family problems, money, and health is normal anxiety, anxiety disorders entail more than a temporary fear or worry since the worry or fear may be persistent for a longer time, worsening a person’s situation.
As discussed earlier, mood disorders are characterized by either excessive elation, excessive sadness, or in some cases, both. It is also important to note that joy and sadness form part of normal life, everyday life, and experience. However, they are different from mania and depression associated with mood disorders. As such, it is also critical that a mental health practitioner is in a good position to identify the differences. So normal moodiness may come from sadness as a natural response to various life events such as a catastrophe, trauma, disappointment, defeat, or loss (Malhi et al., 2020). Therefore, the key difference is that a person can be diagnosed with a mood disorder in cases where the elation or sadness (mania or depression) is overly intense and also accompanied by particular symptoms which impair a person’s normal social or physical function.
Biological Factors that Contribute to Anxiety Disorder
Anxiety disorders impair a person’s normal function, hence a need for better treatment and management. The implication is that mental health practitioners need to understand various aspects, such as the biological basis of anxiety disorder or biological factors that contribute to anxiety disorders. Recent research shows that the interaction between genetics and environment causes more anxiety disorders as compared to genetics alone. However, genetics still play a major role. The mutation of the 5-HTTLPR gene has been connected to the lowering of serotonin activity as well as heightened anxiety-related personality traits (Maron & Nutt, 2022).
Various brain pathways and structures have been connected to anxiety disorders. One of them is the amygdala which plays a role in storing memories connected to emotional events. In the face of a situation that causes fear, the amygdala triggers a reaction that makes the body ready for a response. In the initial phase, the amygdala triggers the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis for either a light or fight. Activation of the second pathway is then accomplished by the feared stimulus, where the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus receive sensory signals to characterize the threat as imagined or real (Maron & Nutt, 2022). In the presence of a real threat, the amygdala gets activated, which then produces a fear response.
Biological Factors that Contribute to Mood Disorders
Similar to anxiety disorder, there are also biological factors that contribute to mood disorders. Indeed, these disorders have a strong biological basis. Such an observation is even supported by the fact that relatives of individuals with a particular illness, such as major depressive disorder, have close to a 50% risk of developing a major depressive disorder. Individuals with mood disorders usually have serotonin and norepinephrine. The two neurotransmitters are key to the regulation of bodily functions, usually disrupted when individuals have mood disorders such as mood, arousal, sleep, sex drive, and appetite (Kato, 2019). Indeed, drugs used in the treatment of major depressive disorder are known to enhance the activity of norepinephrine and serotonin, while lithium helps in inhibiting the activity of norepinephrine activity at the synapses when treating bipolar disorder.
Depression has also been associated with abnormal activity in various parts of the brain, such as the prefrontal cortex and amygdala. For instance, when individuals have depressive symptoms, they display elevated amygdala activity. Such heightened activity has been observed when a person is exposed to negative emotional stimuli, and it is sustained for some time, even when the stimuli are withdrawn (Slavich& Sacher, 2019). On the other hand, individuals experiencing depression usually display reduced activation in the left side of the prefrontal.
Comparison of the Factors: Similarities or Differences
From the discussions, it is evident that mood disorders and anxiety disorders have biological causes. Their biological causes have more similarities than differences. One of the similarities noted is that the amygdala is heavily involved in both cases. For example, in the cases of anxiety disorders, the amygdala triggers a reaction that makes the body ready for a response. In the initial phase, the amygdala triggers the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis for either a light or fight. In the cases of mood disorders, the amygdala is heavily involved, too (Slavich& Sacher, 2019). For instance, when individuals have depressive symptoms, they display elevated amygdala activity. Such heightened activity has been observed when a person is exposed to negative emotional stimuli, and it is sustained for some time, even when the stimuli are withdrawn. Such negative emotions can be in the form of pictures or photos of sad phases.
In both cases, the 5-HTTLPR gene, a gene known to regulate serotonin, is involved. In the cases of anxiety disorders, mutation of the 5-HTTLPR gene has been connected to lowering serotonin activity as well as heightened anxiety-related personality traits. Hence this gene is heavily involved. Recent research has also shown that the 5-HTTLPR gene is heavily involved in cases of mood disorders. For example, individuals who experience numerous stressful life events are substantially more likely to experience major depression episodes if they have one or two versions of the 5-HTTLPR gene as compared to when they have two long versions. In addition, individuals carrying one or two short versions of the 5-HTTLPR are less likely to have such episodes (Slavich& Sacher, 2019).
Whether the Biological Explanation Is Sufficient In Preventing and Treating the Disorders
The discussions on the biological basis of anxiety and mood disorders show that biology plays a key role in the development of these disorders. However, it is also was highlighted earlier that environmental factors have a big role to play, and in most cases, such factors interact with biological factors to lead to these disorders (Meltzer-Brody& Rubinow, 2019). Apart from the biological basis or biological causes, there are also other aspects, such as the psychological aspects, which have been used to explain the existence of anxiety disorders,
From the psychological-cognitive perspective, the development of anxiety and related disorders comes due to dysfunctional thought patterns. For instance, people with anxiety disorders sometimes have maladaptive assumptions and hence interpret particular events as dangerous and, at times, overreact to events. Such negative appraisals may lead to the development of symptoms associated with anxiety disorders (Meltzer-Brody& Rubinow, 2019). Anxiety disorders such as social anxiety disorders have been explained using cognitive theory. Those who experience this disorder are usually fond of holding extremely high or unattainable expectations and social beliefs. They also engage in various preconceived maladaptive assumptions that they are likely to behave incompetently in various social situations. They also believe that their behaviors may lead to unwanted consequences. As such, the individuals end up predicting that social disasters may occur, hence avoiding social encounters such as limiting interactions with family and close friends to avoid the perceived disasters. The overestimation of social performance negatively reinforces avoiding social situations in the future.
There are also the behavioral aspects of anxiety disorders which explain that anxiety disorders are reserved for phobias such as social and specific phobias. In this perspective, anxiety disorders are explained using respondent conditioning. Therefore, respondent conditioning leads to the development of phobias. Social constructs have also been used to explain the existence of anxiety disorders. Aspects such as heightened exposure to traumatic events, experience of significant daily stressors, and living in poverty may all lead to anxiety disorders (Zhang et al., 2020). It is important to note that sociocultural aspects such as discrimination and gender have also been considered to lead to anxiety disorders. Cognitive theories have also been used to discuss the existence of mood disorders such as depression. For example, the diathesis-stress model explains that cognitive vulnerability, which includes maladaptive and negative thinking, triggers depression.
From these discussions, it is evident that it is not safe to only use the biological basis of anxiety and mood disorders for preventing and treating these orders. Even though biology concisely explains the biological processes involved in the development of these conditions, it is important to consider other aspects, such as environmental and social-cultural aspects, when formulating prevention and treatment modalities. Incorporating such aspects can be key to better prevention and treatment strategies.
Mood and anxiety disorders impact individuals’ lives negatively. Even though the conditions are different and have different causes, they may present with similar symptoms, which need to be assessed carefully for better treatment and management. Therefore, this assignment has explored various differences and similarities between anxiety and mood disorders. In addition, the biological basis or causes of these disorders have been explored. It is important to consider other aspects alongside the biological aspects when formulating treatment and prevention modalities for these disorders.
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