Phobias, definition and symptoms

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  • There are 3 categories of phobias identified by the DSM-IV: specific, social and agoraphobia
  • Biological explanations for phobias include: genetics, vulnerability in the autonomic nervous system, preparedness theory. The latter is both a biological and conditioning (behavioural) explanation
  • None of the biological explanations can yet offer a full account of phobia acquisition and several psychological theories have been proposed
  • Psychological explanations for phobias include: behavioural, cognitive and psychodynamic explanations
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  • Obsessive-complusive disorder is a type of anxiety disorder where intrusive and worrying thoughts lead to the performance of certain rituals in order to reduce anxiety
  • Biological explanations include genetic, biochemical and neurophysiological causes
  • OCD can be explained by the two-process theory of conditioning proposed by Mowrer
  • There is some evidence that OCD is related to cognitive functions such as attention and memory
  • The psychodynamic theory suggests OCD can result from a repressed traumatic memory or may be due to a failure to resolve a childhood crisis in psychosexual development
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  • The main drugs used for anxiety disorders are anti-depressants such as Prozac
  • There are a number of drawbacks to the use of drugs for the treatment of anxiety disorders, including unwanted side-effects and the length of time before any benefit is derived from them
  • Systematic desensitisation and flooding are two behavioural techniques that have proved useful in the treatment of anxiety
  • Cognitive treatment aims to replace faulty thinking with more realistic and constructive thinking patterns
  • Psychodynamic treatment has proved the least effective of the treatments avaliable for anxiety disorders and is rarely used
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