Biological and Psychological Explanations of Anxiety Disorders

Satisfactory Essays
Biological and Psychological Explanations of Anxiety Disorders

Research has often concluded that no one biological or psychological

theory can provide a sufficient explanation into anxiety disorders

such as depression. The diathesis stress model explains psychological

anxiety disorders as an interaction between a predisposition to the

disorder and environmental stress. In terms of anxiety disorders,

predispositions include aspects of biological and psychological


Often the main problem found with psychological explanations of

anxiety disorders, especially the psychodynamic theory, is that is the

theories are more difficult to test. With Freud’s theory, which is

largely based on the working of the unconscious mind, it makes it

impossible to prove or disprove. When evidence is presented it is

often inconsistent, for example, Paykel (1981) reviewed studies and

found that had half weren’t supportive of early loss as an

explanation. Freud suggested that development is driven by biological

changes. Adult’s characteristics are the consequences of the

interaction between these and experience.

Biological explanations are more scientific and easy to measure as

they use three main ways of assessment. These are family studies, win

studies and adoption studies. Naturally technology will evolve along

with time. When analysing genetic influences, the medical model

attempts to identify a specific gene and, although genes appear to be

involved, the role of genetic factors in anxiety disorders is

enormously complex. Little is also known about the role of

biochemistry plays in anxiety disorder. We know very little about the

way in which neurotransmitters like serotonin actually work. It is

hard to know whether neurotransmitter changes are a cause or effect.

Biological theories are at best suggestive rather than conclusive.

They suggest why some people are predisposed to phobias and why some

phobias are more common than others. However the evidence used to

support biological theories can often be used to support other

alternative environmental explanations.

Both theories attempt to explain and look to treat anxiety disorders

although focusing on different aspect of treatment. When anxiety

disorders are treated, the fact that often both treatments are