Module 6 - Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders

Anxiety is an emotional state that everyone will experience at some time.  Anxiety can be a normal part of an individual’s response to stress and in some situations it can be appropriate and helpful. It becomes abnormal or pathological when it occurs without a specific trigger; when it is excessive, or interferes with a person’s normal daily activities; or causes distress. Anxiety disorders are common in people with intellectual disability, as they are in the general population. Risk factors for anxiety for people with a disability include an increased likelihood of stressful experiences, limited coping skills and little support to experience and learn adaptive responses. In general, anxiety disorders are under-diagnosed and under-treated in people with intellectual disability. Anxiety can have the following components:


Palpitations or pounding or racing heart, Sweating, Trembling or shaking, Dry mouth, Difficulty breathing; hyperventilation, Chest pain or discomfort, Nausea, vomiting or churning stomach, Dizziness; unsteadiness, Hot flushes or cold chills, Restlessness.


Fear, Worry, Irritability.


Nervous anticipation, Fear of failure, death or harm, Poor concentration, Inability to think clearly.


(The classic behavioural response of anxiety is ‘flight or fight’, as anxiety may be viewed as preparing the body to follow one of these options) Running away, Aggression, Collapse, Obsessional behaviour (rituals, repetitive statements), Tearfulness, Restlessness (foot tapping, pacing, hand wringing), Self-injury (picking, cutting).  
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