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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Prevention of Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is a trans-generational psychological problem. It is taught within the family through the old ways of thinking and relating that do not encourage family members (parents and children alike) to live life in today’s world but in the nostalgia of the past. The appearance and progression of an anxiety disorder in most cases signifies the chronic ambivalence or difficulty of the family to aid its members achieve their potential in life. The complete therapy of an anxiety disorder is never limited to the reduction of the overt symptomatology of the person who suffers. It almost always affects the family’s dynamic in some way.

The official diagnosis of an anxiety disorder is usually deferred for a considerable amount of time, after the initial presentation of the overt symptoms. This is due to the fact that patients do not seek professional advice promptly. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, prevention was almost totally nonexistent, during the prodromal phase. The impressive absence of a prevention mindfulness for anxiety disorders in our age is attributed to the considerable lack of knowledge about them, much like the lack of knowledge about the consequences of cholesterol a generation ago.

Prevention means proactive action on the part of the family or the vulnerable member, if s/he is of age, before the need arises for a clinical psychological or psychiatric intervention. This proactive action presupposes the emergence of and familiarization with a totally new vocabulary. Similarly to the general public’s recently developed familiarization with the consequences of cholesterol and the interest to distinguish between good and bad cholesterol, prevention for anxiety disorders could be realized through the interest to distinguish between good and bad anxiety:


  1. The child does not cry when mama leaves because it is week. It experiences separation anxiety.
  2. S/he is not afraid of dogs because one attacked him/her when s/he was 5 years old. S/he experiences post-traumatic anxiety. (In this case, the parent explains accurately the true cause of the child’s behaviour but is probably not knowledgeable of its consequences).
  3. S/he does not insist to count to 10 before s/he starts his/her dinner because s/he is obstinate. S/he experiences compulsive anxiety.
  4. S/he does not avoid other children because s/he is shy. S/he experiences social anxiety.

The prolonged experience of the above forms of anxiety and the inability of the parent to realize early enough the true nature of the child’s emotional reactions unintentionally prepare the diagnosis of an anxiety disorder in adult life. An anxiety disorder, in its prodromal period, is much similar to a medical illness: it presupposes the chronic exposure of the future patient to its causal factors. However, contrary to the causal factors of major medical diseases, the causal factors of anxiety disorders remain unfamiliar to the general public. The creation of an anxiety prevention culture and the simultaneous allocation of effective interventions from the post-diagnosis stage to the prodromal stage are major objectives of the Hellenic Association for Anxiety Disorders.

Ask your therapist about:

  1. How you could protect the people you care about from anxiety disorders.
  2. The first symptoms of an anxiety disorder.

Let your therapist know:

  1. If you feel that one of your parents suffered from an anxiety disorder.
  2. If you feel that your child experiences bad anxiety.




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