In psychology, there are many different perspectives, each with different views on disorders and their treatments. For the causes of anxiety, they also vary.
Behavioral psychologists believe that anxiety is learned through conditioned associations. An example of this is the Little Albert experiment in which the little boy was conditioned to associate white rats with fear. Also, parents who punish their kids for not getting high grades teach their kids to associate pain with lower grades. A treatment that is used for this is counter conditioning which associates positive actions with anxiety arousing stimuli. Mary Cover Jones was the first one to use this treatment to cure a boy from his fear of rabbits by associating snack time with the rabbit which moved closer to the boy each time he had a snack until eventually no anxiety was caused by its presence
Freud’s psychoanalytic/psychodynamic perspective says that anxiety stems from childhood experiences, traumas, and impulses, such as the conflict between the id and the super ego. A childhood experience that would cause anxiety is the absence of parents which could lead to a fear of abandonment. The treatment for this is Free Association talk therapy which makes the patient speak whatever comes to mind, no matter how trivial or embarrassing. For example, the adult who was abandoned when they were younger would speak without hindrance to their therapist who would help relieve that anxiety by resolving their childhood issues.
The biological perspective believes things such as neurotransmitters, brain chemistry, and physiology cause anxiety such as the over arousal of the frontal lobes, which are stimulated while planning and organizing, in patients with OCD. Likewise, adrenal gland stimulation leads to anxiety. The treatment for this is called psychopharmacology, or the use of medication to treat symptoms like anxiety. Let’s say a woman named Amy had extreme anxiety, she may be prescribed by her psychiatrist selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors to reduce her symptoms.
The cognitive perspective thinks that anxiety-filled thoughts cause anxiety. Thoughts such as “I’ll never make the grade” or “The midterm is tomorrow and if I fail I’ll be kicked out of school” trigger anxiety. This can be treated by talk therapy which lets the patient release their tension and anxiety. For the student who is worried about grades, they might be invited to discuss what would happen if they do not pass and how to think positively about the situation, which would in turn diminish anxiety.
Finally, the Humanistic Perspective sees anxiety centered around Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and self-critical thoughts. For example, anxiety for people who are poor may be caused by the need for food and other necessities, while anxiety for wealthy people could be trigger by the desire for social interaction and self-actualization. The treatment for this is the Client-Centered Therapy created by Carl Rogers which is a form of talk therapy. A wealthy person would sit as a client and discuss where their anxiety comes from and how to stop the stress.