Mental health articles

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Definitions of anxiety and related concepts

 Marks (1987: 5) suggests that fear can be seen as a ‘usually unpleasant response to realistic danger’, whereas anxiety is ‘similar to fear but without objective source of danger’. A phobia is fear of a situation, which is out of proportion to the actual danger and cannot be explained or reasoned away. Panic is a sudden upsurge of acute intense fear, often associated with frantic attempts to escape. These definitions give a useful indication that a distinction is made between realistic and unrealistic responses to situations. These characteristics are important to note as fear and anxiety are sometimes referred to in alternative ways , or may be used synonymously. The important thing to recognize is that sources of danger (that may or may not be realistic), give rise to a set of unpleasant responses. Beck et al.  have listed the following main physical, behavioural, cognitive and affective responses (symptoms) that comprise the anxiety response.

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