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Excluding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder there are three main theories about the cause of anxiety disorders. These are
The biological theory includes the genetic predisposition in panic disorder and presupposes a chemical imbalance in the brain.
The behavioural theory sees the cause as learned behaviour, including our negative thought patterns.
The psychodynamic theory looks at childhood issues as being the cause.
We think all three are right!
Biological theory: includes a genetic contribution for panic disorder
Behavioural theory: there is no doubt we 'learn' to become afraid of our panic attacks...and we learn very very quickly! From this fear, the multitude of fears grow. Each feeding on each other and impacting severely on our lives
Psychodynamic theory: While not everyone with an anxiety disorder has a history of childhood abuse, many people do. And the childhood abuse issues do need to be taken into account.
Childhood issues also play a role in people who don't have a history of childhood abuse. As children we all learnt from a very early age that we needed to become, 'a good nice person'.
To become the 'good nice person' we needed to stop the development of who we could have been, and became who we thought we should be. The end result of this is our low self esteem, fear that we are will be abandoned, that people don't love or like us, feelings of intense loneliness and helplessness. Being who we think we should be creates enormous personal stress as we try to be perfect in every area of our life, including our inability to say 'no' even when we want and need to. Over time 'something' has to give and the development of our anxiety disorder begins.
A major life stress, a build up of day to day stress, physical illness, marijuana, LSD and other illicit drugs can all trigger the genetic predisposition for panic disorder. Once triggered we then become caught up in the multitude of fears.
Our approach in working with anxiety disorders takes all three theories into account. Although we do agree there is a biological component in, we also agree that we can recover and become medication free by using either a Mindfulness cognitive technique or cognitive behavioural therapy.
It is the way we think which creates so much of our ongoing distress. We can control the biological component by losing the fear of our experience and controlling and managing our thoughts. We also agree that childhood issues, whether they be abuse issues or our 'learned 'behaviour in becoming who we think we should be, need to be worked through and resolved. This enables us to develop a healthy sense of self esteem.. From our experience over the years with so many thousands of people, we believe that anxiety disorders and healthy self esteem are 'mutually exclusive'.
Our introduction to this topic excluded Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. PTSD is caused by a life threatening event or event/s. Childhood abuse issues or rape can also be the trigger for the development of PTSD.
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