What the hell is ANXIETY disorder? Understanding Anxiety Disorders: Definition & Psychobiological Factors

Anxiety disorders are prevalent mental health conditions that can significantly impact the lives of those affected. While both men and women experience anxiety disorders, women, particularly those of reproductive age, are more vulnerable to developing these disorders compared to men. This gender disparity, with a prevalence 2-3 times higher among females, suggests the presence of underlying psychobiological factors. This article aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of anxiety disorders by first defining anxiety and then exploring the psychobiological factors that contribute to its development.

How BIG is the problem, just in the USA:
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 19.1% of adults in the United States experienced an anxiety disorder in the past year. This accounts for around 48 million adults. It’s worth mentioning that this statistic includes various types of anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder (SAD), and specific phobias.

Anxiety is a normal emotional response characterized by feelings of fear, worry, and unease. It is a universal human experience that can arise in various situations, such as before a significant event, during a life transition, or when facing potential threats. In these instances, anxiety serves as a natural response to prepare individuals for potential challenges or dangers. However, when anxiety becomes excessive, persistent, and interferes with daily functioning, it may be indicative of an anxiety disorder.

Types of Anxiety Disorders:
Anxiety disorders encompass a range of conditions characterized by excessive and uncontrollable anxiety. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) identifies several specific anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder (SAD), specific phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), among others. Each disorder has its unique set of symptoms and diagnostic criteria, but they all share a common feature of overwhelming and impairing anxiety.

Psychobiological Factors Contributing to Anxiety Disorders:

1. Genetic Predisposition: Research suggests a genetic component in the development of anxiety disorders. Certain genetic variations and hereditary factors can increase an individual’s susceptibility to anxiety disorders. However, genetics alone cannot fully explain the gender differences observed, indicating the involvement of other factors.

2. Neurobiology: The brain plays a critical role in anxiety disorders. Neurotransmitters such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) are involved in regulating anxiety. Imbalances in these neurotransmitter systems have been implicated in the development of anxiety disorders. Additionally, brain regions like the amygdala, involved in fear processing, and the prefrontal cortex, responsible for emotion regulation, may exhibit altered activity in individuals with anxiety disorders.

3. Hormonal Factors: Hormones, particularly sex hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, may influence anxiety disorders, especially in women. Hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy, and menopause have been associated with changes in anxiety symptomatology. These hormonal variations may interact with neurotransmitter systems and contribute to the gender differences observed in anxiety disorders.

4. Environmental Factors: Environmental factors, including early-life stress, trauma, adverse childhood experiences, and chronic stressors, can contribute to the development of anxiety disorders. These factors may shape an individual’s response to stress, influencing their susceptibility to anxiety disorders later in life. Social and cultural influences, such as gender roles and expectations, can also impact the expression and perception of anxiety.

Just to be sure we are all in the same page, Anxiety disorders are complex conditions influenced by a combination of psychobiological factors. While anxiety itself is a natural and adaptive response, excessive and persistent anxiety can lead to impairment and distress. Understanding the psychobiological underpinnings of anxiety disorders, including genetic predisposition, neurobiological factors, hormonal influences, and environmental stressors, is crucial for developing effective prevention strategies, accurate diagnosis, and tailored treatment interventions. By comprehensively addressing these factors, healthcare professionals can provide better support and enhance the overall well-being of individuals affected by anxiety disorders.


So, my daughter, who is 24 and she is a full time student has her health insurance through her school. it happens to be Aetna.
She had a small accident that ended up being an ACL (knee) and she went to the hospital in NY city where she goes to School… big surprise, after a couple of hours waiting ( well that is ok, it was the ER and hers was not a life threatening problem), doctor comes in, she get the usual questions and for my surprise, no X-rays or MRI, when I ask, he says, we can not order this because the insurance company wont pay for it, it has to go to a specialist, then he may order it, but it is not easy, typically the insurance companies want at least a 3 month period for this type of injures, then if you don’t get better, order and MRI, it is too expensive to do it for everybody.

So my recommendation to her is, go to Massachusetts, Boston is the city where she grew up, and where all her doctors are, plus they have universal health care. She went there, she got an appointment with her doctor, then specialist and MRI same day !!!

So when people ask me if I am in favor or not of a government run system, my answer is always the same : i don’t care who runs it, as long as it is universal and it is not done for profit. Being int he hands of private bureaucracies or government ones, I prefer the latter. Private corporations are driven by greed, who do you think took the decision that my daughter had to wait several weeks to have a MRI taken ? a Doctor or a management person ? yes, you probably are right guessing as I , that it is a “policy” issued by management, not by doctors. Government bureaucracy is not moved by greed, you may even get a person that understands that you are not feeling ok and that you want immediate attention to your problem with the best medicine and technology available. Government policies tend to be based on human concerns and not on cash concerns…

Single insurance for all ? tell me who has chosen their own insurer working fro any company ? what happens is my daughter has to stick with whatever insurance company her college decided, not the one she wanted, so come on… let’s be clear, more than 50% of US citizens, employed and paying a health care plan through the company they work for have NO choice on their insurer, it is chosen based on financial considerations, not on freedom of employees…

So, who do prefer ?