Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety Disorders: How to Differentiate Between Normal Anxiety and Crippling Anxiety

I-Scholarly Project

Community and/or Educational Problem

Anxiety is a common part of life, and everyone may experience this normal emotion. The demand and stress of life, such as educational challenges, might increase the chances of experiencing anxiety. Generally, anxiety is a typical response to stressors in life and can be positive or negative. The feeling can be encouraging because it can help learners to accomplish their assignments on time, to work hard, and can warn an individual when in a dangerous circumstance. Besides, anxiety is a warning to be careful in an environment, to flee, or fight (Maack, Buchanan, & Young, 2015). Nonetheless, anxiety can be detrimental when it is excessive and intense. It can have crippling or debilitating symptoms that might affect the health and wellbeing of a person. Although anxiety can be a normal process in life, it becomes problematic when it is severe and crippling. Therefore, the purpose of the project is to identify the difference between normal anxiety and crippling anxiety to inform effective interventions.

Literature Review

Various scholars have researched the topic of anxiety and its effects on different life outcomes, including education. The human body has various normal processes and defense mechanisms to pressures and stressors in life. Anxiety is one of the normal responses to multiple types of situations and events in life (MacDonald, Pawluk, Koerner, & Goodwill, 2015). Webster, Brough, and Daly (2016) add that it is a warning that informs an individual in case of threat or danger and prepares the body to leave the dangerous circumstance or fight back. It is a situation that scientific experts call the fight, flight, or freeze response (Maack, Buchanan, & Young, 2015). Therefore, a manageable level of anxiety is beneficial to the human body. For example, it helps learner to prepare for exams in time to prevent the stress that might cause anxiety. While anxiety is believed to emanate from negative, alarming or dangerous events, even happy situations can make a person anxious. For instance, a person can be anxious when preparing for an event, such as a wedding or when moving to a new home. Anxiety is a normal part of life.

However, anxiety can go beyond the normal level to have detrimental effects on the affected person. O’Malley (2019) suggests that it is problematic when it becomes overwhelming or unmanageable. Research indicates the existence of anxiety disorders, which are psychological ailments with a considerable impact on a person’s life. For example, anxiety can prevent someone from going on with daily activities (Wehrenberg, 2018).  The affected person might experience painful physical sensations and other health problems. Some people have confessed that their source of anxiety is not any real situation, but they develop a feeling of being “trapped” by feelings and thoughts (Barcaccia et al., 2019). Therefore, evidence indicates the need to understand the normal and abnormal anxiety to seek timely intervention because the condition is treatable.

Health experts advise people to seek medical intervention when experiencing intense anxiety. However, according to Zuckerman and Spielberger (2015), differentiating between normal and debilitating anxiety can be difficult. The critical question is about how to know that the level of anxiety is severe enough to meet the criteria for a disorder. Some people develop anxiety disorder during childhood, while others experience the symptoms during adulthood. Whatever the case, one can live with the symptoms for a long time before realizing that they signify mental illness. For some people, it occurs in comorbidity with other conditions, such as mood disorders (Lai, Cleary, Sitharthan, & Hunt, 2015). Although anxiety disorders improve with psychotherapy or medications, the most critical step includes diagnosis, differentiating between the normal and disordered level of anxiety.

The Relevance of the Project

The project is relevant to nursing because it will provide critical knowledge regarding the way to differentiate between normal and debilitating anxiety in order to seek medical help. Nursing professionals stand in the gap for patients suffering from different medical conditions. They provide information to patients through health education and promotion. Therefore, their knowledge about the variances between the different levels of anxiety will help them to provide information to patients regarding, especially when an individual should seek help.

II- Project Design Planning

Purpose Statement

The purpose of the project is to create an effective model based on information to distinguish between normal and crippling anxiety. The knowledge will help nurses and patients to understand when anxiety warrants mental health intervention. It will also improve health access for people suffering from anxiety disorders.

The Targeted Population/Group

The project targets college students to distinguish between the two levels of anxiety. Mental health nurses and other practitioners are the key stakeholders in the project. Other stakeholders will include families and mental health professionals such as counsellors providing care in the college.

Plan for Developing the Scholarly Project

The plan for the project includes a mechanism for collecting critical data to establish the level of anxiety and determine the need for intervention. The implementer will create a tool based on the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) and psychological questionnaires with questions about symptoms.

Project Tool

The researcher will use a questionnaire based on the DSM-5 and questions relating to symptoms and medical history. Appendix one shows the questionnaire that will be used to diagnose the condition. The responses will help to determine the differences in the level of anxiety.

The Setting and Key Informants

The setting for the project is a college. Data will be collected from individuals (college students) recruited to test the levels of anxiety and determine the potential for debilitating effects warranting intervention. Participants will be recruited voluntarily from the college population based on self-reports of anxiety.

III- Implementation

Project Implementation

The implementer will collect data to establish the level of anxiety that meets the criteria of a disorder. Participants will complete the questionnaire to determine whether self-reported anxiety is at a normal or crippling level. Only patients with an anxiety disorder, such as generalized anxiety disorder, will receive treatment at the mental health facility. The implementer will provide psychotherapy to patients with anxiety disorder.

Ethical, Cultural and Religious Considerations

The implementer will consider ethical aspects of the study, including informed consent. The recruitment process will be voluntary, and participants will sign an informed consent to take part in the project. Besides, they will be promised privacy and confidentiality of their information. The data will not be shared with any person who is not directly involved in the project. The implementer will respect the cultural and religious beliefs of the participants. The project will avoid any language that might express prejudice or stereotype.

Alternative Treatment Methods

Two alternative treatments can be used for the condition. The two options are psychotherapy (talk therapy) and medications. The implementer can use either of the two or in combination. Psychotherapy involves talking with a therapist to address the symptoms and potential causes. Various drugs can be used, such as antidepressants, Buspirone (an anti-anxiety drug), and Benzodiazepines (Foa, Franklin, McLean, McNally, & Pine, 2017). The remedies are implemented based on the intensity of the symptoms and the extent to which the condition is affecting one’s life.

IV- Evaluation

Evaluation Method

A quantitative survey will be used to evaluate the level of learning in the target population. The tool will collect data to establish the level of knowledge among the subjects regarding the ways of distinguishing between normal and crippling anxiety.

Analysis and Findings

Data will be analyzed quantitatively using Excel to determine the level of knowledge obtained from the project. The project is expected to be successful in educating participants about ways of distinguishing between normal and crippling anxiety to seek timely intervention. Patients will develop skills to identify whether the anxiety is the typical type caused by daily stressors or whether it requires them to seek help from mental health practitioners.

Strengths, Weaknesses, or Possible Limitations

The strength of the project emanates from the use of a valid and reliable tool to collect data to inform diagnosis. The instrument used is based on the DSM-5 and questions relating to symptoms (Newman et al., 2002). However, the study is limited in terms of the recruitment method and the number of participants. Subjects will be recruited based on self-report data on anxiety. The recruitment method might not generate a sufficient sample from which to collect generalizable data.

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