Evolutionary Psychology

Subject: Mental Health
Type: Informative Essay
Pages: 5
Word count: 1335
Topics: Anxiety Disorder, Social Psychology


Anxiety disorders are common mental conditions that cause a significant burden on the society. Anxious sensations are normal human experiences but excessive anxiety leads to illness. Often attached to disturbances that are lifelong and psychiatric in nature, anxiety is more prominent during childhood and adolescence. In a day and age where many environmental factors contribute heavily to the adoption of behavior by individuals, the modern society has not been able to handle anxiety in a conclusive way. The study examined the manner through which the traditional society dealt with anxiety and how anxiety in itself contributed to the survival of the ancestors. Other areas that the study looked into include biological components that induce behavioral changes in the brain characterized by the imbalance of chemicals such as serotonin thereby making one susceptible to anxiety. Interestingly, genetic inheritance coupled with a history of violence or child abuse results into trauma that fosters generalized anxiety. Based on the literature provided, the paper concluded that non-psychopharmaceutical treatment was the most appropriate approach to intervene in the reduction of anxiety in the society.  


Various disorders exist that create stress within individuals and may manifest via physical symptoms. This translates to anxiety, a serious condition, which interferes with how people behave on an everyday basis (Worksman & Reader, 2014). In as much as its part of the human emotion, anxiety brings about a feeling of nervousness, apprehension and overwhelming fear characterized by panic attacks especially when one is under pressure or before confronting a challenging situation such as an examination or an interview (Roose & Glick, 2013). Anxiety was essential for the survival of the ancient generations. 

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Modern day cannot compare to the traditional times of the ancestors, who history deems to have been hunters and gatherers (Yapko, 2013). Covering the environmental context, the ancestors lived in groups of fifty individuals unlike the current living conditions where people live in small groups (Kahn, 2012). From an evolutionary point of view, ancestors discussed bad news, a component that contributes to anxiety within the society thereby reducing its effects. 

Currently, the world is full of bad news such as death and disasters from billions of individuals thereby increasing the levels of anxiety. According to Suinn (2013), the reason why cases of anxiety are on the rise is that people are unwilling to go for therapy or discuss personal issues with others in a bid to lower the negative impact within the community. Shifting to disorders of social anxiety (SAD), the ancestors could promote the functioning of the groups by reducing competition in a manner that fosters confidence and participation of all individuals (Worksman & Reader, 2014)

On the contrary, human beings in the modern day fear situations that call for participation in social performance due to the humiliation that occurs through exposure to public scrutiny (Rathus, 2011). Physical manifestations under such incidences include a voice that is shaky, clammy hands, tremors as well as blushing. Yapko illustrated that the mismatch of the present and the Era of evolution also exhibit in the generalized disorder anxiety (2013). Under the triune brain segment, the ancestors were able to separate negative emotions into two categories namely de-escalatory and escalatory. 

Anxiety was significant in the traditional days as ancestors could not venture into dangerous activities or move further away from the family and the tribe. This means that anxiety created unity in the society, which in turn facilitated the survival of the community through united efforts of solve challenges (Suinn, 2013). In essence, unity provided the strength for the society to move past trying situations characterized by bad news to more important matters of growth (Yapko, 2013). The upbringing of children in the traditional society would encompass the element of striving to eliminate anxiety thus a prosperous future for the tribe. 

Biologically, genetic components have to be present for the manifestation of an anxiety disorder (Eysenck, 2013). Most of such components occur at birth where temperamental differences in babies making some to have a higher sensitivity to stimulation and stress than others. Children who grow with sensitive temperaments are a lot more likely to develop disorders relating to anxiety than individuals who have less sensitive temperaments (Hyman, 2013).  Neuroticism is a disorder associated with the emotional stability of individuals. It raises the level of anxiety especially to people whose stress sensitivity is high. 

Limbic is a system that is responsible for putting human emotions in either the unpleasant or the pleasant states. Anxiety resulting from stress leads to a feeling inclined to danger that ultimately results in the classification of the emotion of as pleasant (Kahn, 2012). On the other hand, activities that create joy in the absence of anxiety in situations, which have, create joy result in a pleasant classification of emotions. 

The sympathetic system controls the endocrine system in order to make the body ready for emergency while the parasympathetic system stores energy for the body for the future (Roose & Glick, 2013). Hampton argued that incidences of fear increase the activity of the sympathetic system that in turn increases it secretion of enzymes that contribute to the body’s ability to deal with unexpected changes that may interfere with normal body functioning (2009).

 Amygdala is critical in the formation of memories connected to fear. In the presence of anxiety, the amygdala modulates the mechanism of responding to fear by developing emotions of fear in the individual (Hand, 2014). Hippocamus, a system facilitating the creation of emotion and memories. Stress causes alterations in cognitive processes where in the hippocampus for instance, previous memories influence either the enhancement or the suppression of a response. 

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Chronic stress may damage the hippocampus meaning that the victim is unable to have good memory of previous events. According to Eysenck (2013), prefrontal cortex carries the mandate of regulating emotions, behavior and thought. When under pressure, the prefrontal cortex develops mental representations that enhance flexibility and behavior directed towards the achievement of individual goals.

 Serotinin, a significant neurotransmitter that operates in the central nervous affects the response mechanism towards stress (Rathus, 2011). Generally, stress increases the serotonin in the brain through oxidase inhibitors and antidepressants that induces fear. With regard to cortisol, long-term stress attributed to anxiety leads to excessive secretion of cortisol cells that impair learning and the control of impulsive behavior.      

Anxiety disorders form a large part of the public health challenge and therefore calls for treatment that is non-psychopharmaceutical. Health specialists have made an implication that links Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) to anxiety and depression (Hampton, 2009). A BDNF SNP goes a long way in the prediction of phobia therapies, stress disorders which are traumatic and other anxiety issues. 

Unlike non-SNP controls, individuals who have SNP have impairments in the capability of controlling responses of fear. Hyman demonstrated that neurotrophin hypothesis concerned with depression checks on the correlation of antidepressant treatment, stress and the up or down regulation of BDNF (2013). If disruptions of signaling pathways of the BDNF occur genetically, the receptor known as tyrosine kinase does not influence depressive actions even though it hampers with the impact of antidepressant drugs on the victim. 

Multiple promoters and secretions are good examples of advancement in cell biology associated with BDNF have an impact of cellular functions that result in the reduction of mood disorders.  It appears that BDNF will facilitate the control of human emotions thus decreasing stress mediated behavior in the society (Eysenck, 2013). Ultimately, the advances will moderate environmental factors by reducing the trauma that triggers anxiety especially among the individuals who are prone to inherit the disorder.   

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Anxiety, like depression has devastating effects on the society in that it interferes with the normal functioning of people. The mismatch between the traditional and the modern society indicates that people in the ancient setting were able to deal with anxiety than more comprehensively than people in the current era (Hand, 2014). BDNR, a non-psychopharmaceutical treatment technique seeks to reduce behavior driven by stress by controlling human emotions. 


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  1. Eysenck, M. (2013). Anxiety: The Cognitive Perspective. London: Psychology Publishers. 
  2. Hampton, S. (2009). Essential evolutionary psychology. Los Angeles: SAGE Publishers. 
  3. Hand, C. (2014). Living with Anxiety Disorders. London: ABDO Publishers. 
  4. Hyman, S. (2013). Fear and Anxiety: The Science of Mental Health. New York: Routledge Publishers. 
  5. Kahn, J. (2012). Angst: Origins of Anxiety and Depression. London: Oxford University Publishers. 
  6. Rathus, S. A. (2011). Psych. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth Publishers. 
  7. Roose, S., & Glick, R. (2013). Anxiety as Symptom and Signal. New York: Routledge Publishers. 
  8. Suinn, R. (2013). Anxiety Management Training: A Behavior Therapy. New Jersey: Springer Science & Business Media publishers. 
  9. Worksman, L., & Reader, W. (2014). Evolutionary Psychology. London: Cambridge University Publishers. 
  10. Yapko, M. (2013). Brief Therapy Approaches to Treating Anxiety and Depression. New York: Routledge Publishers. 
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