Anxiety refers to a physiological and psychological condition, including genetic, emotional, behavioral, and cognitive components that merge and lead to the feelings of discomfort, nervousness, and panic. Based on the duration of anxiety, it can be a trait or a state (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). Anxiety may endure over a long time and takes a number of forms, including phobia, obsessive-compulsive, post-traumatic stress, and social anxiety. This trait may involve physical, behavioral, emotional, and cognitive effects, which are extremely disturbing among the sufferers. Both environmental and genetic factors may lead to the development of trait anxiety in human beings. Psychologists, such as Erik Erikson, Sigmund Freud, Piaget, Horney, and Abraham Maslow explained the development of anxiety in human beings (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). Treatment of anxiety may involve group or individual therapy and the prescription of psychotropic medications. This paper will consider the development of trait anxiety in humans, the function that trait anxiety is likely to serve, effects of trait anxiety on a person’s social behavior, and methods that can help decrease the quantity of trait anxiety in patients.
Development of Anxiety Trait in Humans
In human beings, anxiety trait exists as generalized obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorder, panic disorder, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). Research has shown that the development of anxiety trait occurs due to the presence of biological factors, environmental factors, psychological factors, or the combination of these factors (Rudaizky, Page, & MacLeod, 2012). Biological factors may include aging, genetics, brain chemistry, neurotransmitters, and hormones. The most critical factors include stress and life occurrences requiring change or adaptation, as well as early school experiences. This is the combination of both environmental and psychological factors.
The most common biological factors that lead to the development of anxiety in human beings include aging, genetics, brain chemistry, neurotransmitters, and hormones (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). Research shows that some anxiety disorders occur during the late adulthood, in part because of worries and concerns about the deterioration in health and other bodily symptoms (Rudaizky, Page, & MacLeod, 2012). Some individuals develop anxiety because of fearing aging and death. Therefore, increased fear of death has a close association with the development of anxiety toward the old age. Genetics is another factor that can explain the development of anxiety. A person has a high likelihood of suffering from anxiety if some members in the family lineage suffer from anxiety or related psychological problems. Some individuals possess a genetic makeup that makes them stand a higher probability of developing anxiety. The basis of human chemistry is the levels of some neurotransmitters that a person’s brain contains. Some of the neurotransmitters that take part in the development of anxiety include serotonin, norepinephrine, gamma-aminobutyric acid, and cholecystokinin (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). The imbalance of the neurotransmitters lowers the ability of the brain to deal with stress, thereby resulting in the development of anxiety. High levels of norepinephrine in the brain will lead to the formation of stressful-like feelings while low levels of serotonin will lead to relaxed feelings. Research has shown that some women start to develop anxiety after birth because the level of progesterone declines (Rudaizky, Page, & MacLeod, 2012). Declining levels of progesterone in women is a normal phenomenon, but in some cases, the decline may stretch out and lead to anxiety or post-partum depression.
Stress and Life Experiences
Stress refers to a process that links external incidents, perceptions and their appraisals to the reactions against directed at altering the events or a person’s relationship to the events (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). Therefore, stress occurs due to a person’s struggle to alter the tear and wear of life in a positive manner. Recognition of dangerous events or situations demanding extraordinary adjustment techniques initiates appraisals of relevant events and experience and assets of the person. Stress responses take place when the appraisals are not benign, that is, when an excessive thereat or demand is likely to occur. The stress responses can include psychological and emotional changes that accompany bodily responses, appraisals, and behavioral changes. Consequences of the stress responses like performance deficits or health changes may occur if the responses are extraordinarily prolonged and intense. Some of the life events that may lead to the development of stress include insufficient money, unsuccessful intimate relationship, challenging conditions at the workplace, and trauma from various incidents, such as sexual harassment and abuse. Sigmund Freud and Hans Breuer studied ill and paralyzed young women, who had suffered repeated trauma while young adolescents and teenagers. The young women suffered from chronic anxiety because of failure to cope with guilt and shame.
Erik Erikson explained how anxiety develops in human beings during early stages of human growth and development. According to Erikson’s psychological stage theory, children can either develop trust or mistrust based on the care they get from their caregivers (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). For instance, the child will find the environment unsafe failure to form attachment with mother and other individuals. Later, the child will develop behavior of avoiding the company of other people. Future relationships will lead to the development of mistrust and anxiety because of fear to acknowledge the needs for affection. Jean Piaget is another psychologist, who describes the development of anxiety in human beings. According to Piaget’s cognitive-development theory, babies develop separation anxiety because of a temporary separation from the mother (Friedman & Schustack, 2012).
School experiences, such as bullying incidents, low academic performances, and severe punishments may lead to the development of anxiety among children (Salthouse, 2012). In most cases, the students who fall victims of bullying develop the trait of anxiety in their lives. Such children develop intense fear when they are in the school compound because their bullies will attack them. Some school children may develop anxiety upon scoring low academic grades. The children, who score low academic grades, fear that other people, including teachers, parents, and fellow pupils will perceive them as incompetent.
Purpose of Anxiety
While many people consider anxiety as a negative trait that human beings possess, anxiety has a number of purposes. Some of the purposes of anxiety include psychological survival, social survival, physical survival, and mental preparation, which help people to overcome various problems in their surroundings (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). Anxiety may develop to enable people deal with threatening situations. The anxiety creates automatic responses like heightened awareness and sleeplessness that allow a person to prepare how to deal with imminent dangers.
Anxiety heightens sensitivity and awareness to others when a person mixes socially with people. This helps people to continue being in the company of other individuals by not seeming domineering or arrogant. Both extroverts and introverts sometimes experience anxiety, when meeting people, developing deep relations, or when people attend to them carefully. The social dangers that people are likely to face include rejection, embarrassment, evaluation, and judgment. Anxiety will focus a person’s attention, increase the drive, heighten the sensitivity to other people, and provide a health amount of humility. Individuals, who fail to develop anxiety, are likely to be arrogant, domineering, and obnoxious (Friedman & Schustack, 2012).
Physical survival is another purpose of anxiety in human beings. Anxiety can lead to increased heart rate and dilation of eye pupils to prepare a person escape from the present danger. Fight or flight response is a common application of anxiety feelings, which develop when a person foresees a dangerous situation that is about to occur (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). The perception of facing a dangerous situation triggers the sympathetic nervous system. The nervous system activates various changes in the body to prepare for an immediate action, such as escaping or counterattacking. The physiological changes will be significant when the threat is extremely dangerous. A person, who is extremely anxious, will breathe rapidly to inhale abundant oxygen to meet high energy requirements for emergency. Therefore, the mechanism helps a person to build extra energy and strength, which enables the person to escape from the dangerous situation or counterattack the dangerous situation. Freeze response is another physiological purpose of anxiety, which helps a person handle the dangerous situation successfully (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). A person may not be noticeable to the potential attackers upon freezing. This will enable the person to focus attention on the danger and look for possible solutions against the dangerous situation.
People can attain mental preparedness through the development of anxiety (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). Anxiety over imminent events helps individuals prepare for the events examining the situations and making solutions beforehand avoid the potential difficulties. For instance, students read thoroughly when they are about to do exams. This enables them to cover most of the class work and avoid failing grades. Job interviewees also develop anxiety, which helps them to prepare sufficiently before they meet their interviewers. This has helped many people to tackle imminent incidents with full confidence.
Effects of Anxiety on the Person’s Social Behavior
It is healthy to experience occasional amounts of anxiety because these amounts do not affect the behavior of a person negatively (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). This is because anxiety provides motivation that a person needs to accomplish an activity or project. However, high levels of anxiety will affect the personal behavior of a person in a devastating manner. Research has shown that anxiety can turn a person’s healthy social behaviors to unhealthy social behaviors, which include sleeping disturbances, difficulty performing various tasks, and substance abuse (Rudaizky, Page, & MacLeod, 2012).
A person possessing the trait of anxiety is likely to experience sleeping problems because the person worries constantly and lacks the ability to control the worries (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). Therefore, most people with anxiety do get enough sleep because of the difficulty to fall asleep. The person will experience a feeling of fatigue during day time. The condition of sleeplessness will affect a person’s interpersonal relationship with other people because of concentration problems. People experiencing fatigue may not be able to concentrate normally, which will make other individuals dislike them.
Individuals possessing anxiety may not be able to perform tasks normally because of the anxiety symptoms (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). Therefore, individuals with anxiety may not associate well with other people at the workplace because of failure to achieve a number of tasks. Anxiety symptoms will limit what a person can be able to perform. For instance, a person suffering from anxiety is likely to avoid tasks like driving a car, which may increase phobia. Reduced concentration due to anxiety symptoms may also lead to a person’s inability to perform various tasks in a successful manner (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). This can as well hinder what tasks the person is capable of performing. Thus, a person’s social behavior suffers due to unhealthy work relations with fellow workers and organizational leaders.
Substance abuse is antisocial behavior that may result from the symptoms of anxiety (Rudaizky, Page, & MacLeod, 2012). Many individuals possessing anxiety symptoms use large quantities of alcohol or drugs regularly to suppress the symptoms. Therefore, the social behavior of a person suffering from anxiety will suffer significantly due to the negative influence of substance abuse. The symptoms of anxiety will become even severe with persistent use of alcohol and drugs (Rudaizky, Page, & MacLeod, 2012). Individuals, who abuse substances, are unlikely to associate with other people in a healthy way.
Anxiety can change a person’s social behavior negatively, which will affect the relationship of the person with family members and friends in various ways (Rudaizky, Page, & MacLeod, 2012). This happens because of the anxiety symptoms that include irritability, sleeplessness, muscle tension, trouble concentration, and restlessness. These can affect a person’s interpersonal relationship with friends and family members. The anxiety symptoms can also lead to the reduced ability to perform tasks effectively. Because of trouble concentration, a person possessing the trait of anxiety cannot interact with other people in a healthy way at the workplace. The accompanying psychological problems will have negative effects on functioning and interpersonal relationships.
Techniques for Reducing Anxiety
Techniques for reducing anxiety include the skills that therapists impart to the individuals suffering from anxiety with the purpose of helping them overcome anxiety symptoms. Individuals can experience anxiety in various ways, including worry, tension, and nervousness. The techniques that therapists use to help reduce anxiety symptoms can include diaphragmatic breathing, meditation, stress inoculation, progressive relaxation, and visualization and imagery (Friedman & Schustack, 2012).
In the technique of diaphragmatic breathing, a therapist teaches the client to inhale sufficient amount of air for the blood to carry enough oxygen, which will lead to proper purification of blood (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). Diaphragmatic breathing is a significant technique that has helped individuals reduce anxiety, irritability, depression, fatigue, muscle tension, and blood circulation. Individuals can learn the technique of diaphragmatic breathing in a matter of minutes. However, individuals may not recognize the benefits of diaphragmatic breathing until after many days of continuous practice. Therapists should ensure that their clients breathe in deeply every time they inhale air (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). The client should practice deep breathing for at least five minutes once or twice daily. After about two weeks of practice, the patient should increase the number of minutes to twenty minutes daily. This technique ensures that a sufficient amount of oxygen reaches the lungs for the purification and oxygenation of blood. Tissues and organs become nourished as the oxygen removes waste products from the blood circulatory system.
Meditation is another effective technique for reducing anxious feelings. In this technique, the therapist trains the clients not to focus their attention on more than two things simultaneously. People have used meditation to treat and alleviate blood pressure, migraine headaches, strokes, immunization diseases, heart disease, obsessive thinking, anxiety, attention problems, anger difficulties, and depression (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). As individuals understand how to meditate, they realize the possibility of controlling various thoughts that they experience. Many individuals start recognizing abnormal patterns of perceptions and thought that have impacted their lives negatively (Caparos & Linnell, 2012). Meditation also reduces the amount of the chemicals in the body that result in the development of stress.
The training of stress inoculation refers to a therapy that helps clients cope with stressful situations and anxiety by learning the functional properties of self-talk (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). Self-talk regarding stressful situations may make a person suffering from anxiety to take ordinary events and magnify their importance automatically. The therapist should help the client identify the stressful situations. When the identification of stress situation has been successful, the therapist should teach the client to curb the thoughts that lead to anxiety and use positive thoughts to replace them. New thoughts will finally replace the previous habitual thoughts that often led to anxiety. A person will possess realistic views about anxiety and stressful situations in lifetime. Stress inoculation will help individuals gain the capability of relaxing away tension by employing coping thoughts, which will enable not to interpret situations negatively. People have successfully used stress inoculation to reduce general and interpersonal anxiety (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). For instance, the technique of stress inoculation is extremely useful when people have upcoming tests, speeches, or job interviews.
The basis of this technique is that muscle tension has a close association with stress and anxiety. Muscle relaxation reduces tension, which in turn reduces anxiety among clients (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). People employ the technique of progressive relations to relieve mothers from pain during labor. Progressive relaxation can also reduce fatigue, insomnia, depression, bowel syndrome, mild phobias, shuttering, and high blood pressure. The therapist instructs clients to relax and tighten various muscles during progressive relaxation. Relation of muscles helps a person not to focus on the pain. It is advisable for therapists to encourage progressive relation every day for about two weeks (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). Engaging in progressive relaxation improves energy levels, reduces anxiety and depression, as well as improves the ability of a person to retrieve previous memories.
Visualization and Imagery
This technique helps people to make mental images of what they want to accomplish. A person might want to release concerns and worries, or create relaxing images to escape instantly from stressful incidents. Visualization and imagery have been useful in treating anxiety, spasms and muscle tension, headaches, and reducing pain (Friedman & Schustack, 2012). For instance, athletes can use visualization and imagery to achieve an impressive performance. A relaxed person achieves the best results out of visualization and imagery. Exercises of visualization and imagery usually take place three times every day for about twenty minutes.
In conclusion, anxiety trait is among the personality traits that are common in human society. Psychologists have explained various factors that have led to the development of anxiety in human beings. These are biological factors, environmental factors, psychological factors, or the combination of these factors. Anxiety can have negative effects on the patient's life. In some cases, people perceive anxiety as extremely useful during some situations, such as escaping danger. Various factors, such as diaphragmatic breathing, meditation, stress inoculation, progressive relaxation, and visualization and imagery, help reduce negative effects of anxiety.