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Chapter 7 - Anxiety Disorders in Evolutionary Perspective

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 September 2022

Riadh Abed
Mental Health Tribunals, Ministry of Justice, UK
Paul St John-Smith
Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, UK
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Anxiety disorders make sense only in the evolutionary context of the origins and functions of normal anxiety. Anxiety is an adaptation that adjusts diverse aspects of individuals in ways that increase fitness in dangerous situations. Subtypes were partially differentiated by different dangers. Anxiety is not fully differentiated from other aversive emotions, especially low mood. Anxiety disorders result when regulation systems fail. Explaining them requires considering five possible reasons for vulnerability. However, much harmful anxiety arises from normal mechanisms. These insights are valuable in the clinic, and they suggest new research initiatives.

Evolutionary Psychiatry
Current Perspectives on Evolution and Mental Health
, pp. 101 - 116
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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