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PHYSIOLOGY ASSOCIATED WITH ANXIETY

Fundamental to understanding anxiety and how it affects the person are the endocrine and nervous systems in the body. These are the body’s main regulatory systems – the nervous system relays impulses to and from the brain via sensory receptors; the endocrine system governs the pituitary gland, which is linked to the hypothalamus in the brain. The hypothalamus also functions as a centre that combines hormonal and autonomic nervous activity (Van Wynsberghe et al. 1995).The nervous system is essential for functioning as it is responsible for delivering messages from different parts of the body to the brain via the spinal cord, andvice versa. Trickett (1996) compares the nervous system to that of a ‘network of communication between various parts of the body, rather like a telephone exchange’.Therefore, it is essential that all aspects of the system are operating correctly. Thenervous system comprises two main components – the central nervous system andthe autonomic nervous system.

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