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Anxiety Disorders and Developmental Psychology

Possessing familiarity with psychological conditions and the general concepts of mental health is beneficial for any career or field but can be especially helpful for those who manage or interact with adults or children. Those curious about how anxiety disorders connect to brain development, in particular, can pursue a career with that focus through the online Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Psychology with a concentration in Mental Health program from Avila University.

The lessons learned during the program contribute to a robust foundation for any graduate, whether pursuing a career in human resources or mental health. In the program’s Personality Psychology course, students explore individual differences in patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving to understand the unique characteristics that shape an individual’s personality. In the Cognitive Psychology course, students develop active listening and verbal presentation skills, allowing them to connect to their colleagues, clients and peers.

What Are Anxiety Disorders? 

Everyone experiences feelings of anxiety at some point, but someone may have an anxiety disorder when it becomes chronic and interferes with their work, school or personal life. Anxiety disorders represent a group of mental health conditions often characterized by excessive fear and worry. These disorders can generate a variety of physical and psychological symptoms, which can make it challenging to identify, treat and manage.

Some common anxiety disorders and their symptoms are:

  • Agoraphobia: fear or avoidance of situations or places where escape might be difficult
  • Generalized anxiety disorder: excessive and persistent worry or anxiety about various aspects of life, sometimes without a specific cause or trigger
  • Panic disorder: frequent or unexpected panic attacks, typically without a clear cause or presence of danger
  • Selective mutism: an inability to speak or communicate effectively in some, but not all, social situations
  • Separation anxiety disorder: extreme fear or discomfort in children when separated from parents
  • Social anxiety disorder: excessive fear, embarrassment and worry about humiliation in everyday social situations

How Common Are Anxiety Disorders?

According to the American Psychiatric Association, anxiety disorders affect about 30% of adults. However, symptoms can begin in childhood, impacting approximately one-third of U.S. adolescents. Gaining early access to treatment, like medication and therapy, can help people learn to manage the disorder and keep anxiety from snowballing into more serious conditions, such as depression and substance abuse.

What Are the Primary Causes of Anxiety Disorders?

Anxiety disorders have not always been well understood, but psychiatric research has uncovered many causes and contributing factors that increase the likelihood that someone may experience one of these conditions. Still, an anxiety disorder usually develops due to the combination of several aspects related to a person’s unique brain chemistry, life experiences and genetics.

For example, an anxiety disorder can arise from the use of certain medications or illicit substances. It can also occur in connection with a medical condition, such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, adrenal tumors, autism spectrum disorders, eating disorders, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. In addition, certain life experiences may lead to anxiety. These experiences may include stressful or traumatic events, like neglect, death, illness or being bullied.

Genetics can be a significant catalyst for the development of anxiety disorders. Genetic predispositions passed down through families can increase susceptibility to anxiety disorders, suggesting that individuals with a family history of anxiety are more likely to have similar conditions themselves. Gene mutations may alter the chemical balance of cortisol and other hormones and affect the function of brain receptors, setting off a cascade of neurotransmitters that increases anxiety.

Why Pursue an Advanced Degree?

Anxiety disorders are extremely common among children and adults. Understanding the causes and the various types of anxiety disorders can help individuals in the field of psychology, mental health or any human-centered profession to better recognize and support individuals experiencing these conditions.

Graduates of Avila University’s online B.A. in Psychology – Mental Health program gain foundational mental health and psychology knowledge to help individuals in various professional spaces. They can pursue advanced educational degrees and certifications and enter roles like human resource specialist, case manager, mental health advocate and marketing researcher. Whether helping coworkers, clients or communities, skills in mental health and psychology are critical to understanding best practices for well-being.

Learn more about Avila University’s online B.A. in Psychology – Mental Health program.

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