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Understanding Anxiety Disorders: Cultural, Gender, and Legal Perspectives

Understanding Anxiety Disorders_ Cultural, Gender, and Legal Perspectives

Mental Health Disorder Anxiety

Anxiety disorder is a predominant mental condition in the United States. It is characterized by anxiety and fear based on worries emerging from current and future events. Physical symptoms such as increased heart rate and shakiness are linked to anxiety disorders. The contemporary society faces an increased number of persons suffering from anxiety disorders. It is critical to ensure timely treatment in averting extreme effects such as schizophrenia. The cognitive behavioral remedy is the principal method of treatment used to treat anxiety disorders.

Cultural Differences in Social Anxiety Disorders

The cultural background influences the expression of emotions and treatment of anxiety disorders. Individualism and collectivism, social standards, gender roles, and identification profoundly influence the assessment of anxiety conditions. In individualistic cultures, a person’s feelings and thoughts determine the behavior, unlike in collective cultures, where norms significantly impact behavior. For example, in the US and Asia, strict social rules are availed to determine appropriate behavior, and if any deviation is encountered, sanctions are introduced (Hofmann, Asnaani & Hinton, 2010). Therefore, the conflict between personal and social values is associated with the emergence of social anxiety disorders. The South East Asian and South American communities depict a collective society compared to Western societies, which are individualistic and more likely to have high rates of social anxiety (Woody, Miao & Kellman-McFarlane, 2015). The glut fear of violating social values translates to embarrassment, initiating anxiety disorders. Social fears depend on cultures, and behavior deemed appropriate in one culture may not be normal in another. Thus, cultural syndromes generate particular types of embarrassment, which later form social anxiety disorder symptoms.

Self-construal defines how people relate to each other within the social context. US locals depict independence and identify themselves as self-ruling and divergent from the community setting. However, Asian and other Eastern communities are not likely to depict independent self-construal. Therefore, individuals tend to adjust their behavior to correspond with the feelings and thoughts important to others. Gender differences play a huge part in the determination of self-construal. In the US, men are socialized to become independent and are likely to depict behaviors promoting core personal attributes, unlike women, who develop a definition of the self (Hoffmann et al., 2010). Thus, the differences influence how men and women develop their experiences and those of people around them. Women may, therefore, experience instances of shame compared to men. Shame significantly affects social anxiety but has a different meaning to different cultures.

Laws Governing Mental Anxiety Disorders

The state and the federal government should take up the full responsibility of addressing mental anxiety disorders to ensure the welfare of its people. In most cases, people suffering from mental anxiety disorders do not receive appropriate care and attention due to factors such as negligence of the service provider. Different laws are necessary to ensure adequate management and treatment of anxiety disorders. The government should develop a law covering nonmaleficence and respect for persons suffering from anxiety disorders. Psychiatrists should adhere to the requirement of ensuring no harm to the patient as stipulated in the law. Notably, the law should incorporate respect for patients suffering from anxiety disorders and their decisions regarding treatment forms. For example, a psychiatrist should follow the treatment highlighted by the patient. If there is a need to withdraw the treatment, the psychiatrist should inform the patient to allow them to decide. While some patients may depict arrogance and inability to control, any practitioner should not make health decisions for them whatsoever.

Client safety laws and boundary lines between therapists and clients are necessary when dealing with anxiety disorders. No patient should encounter harm in a clinical setting, and it is the service provider’s responsibility to guarantee safety (Altis, Elwood & Olatunji, 2014). For example, availing the right medication is one way of guaranteeing the safety of patients. The laws should dictate the repercussions likely to follow when a psychiatrist fails to provide the right treatment to a patient. Currently, a law aligning with creating boundary lines between the therapist and client is operational. The relationship between the two parties is strictly formal and revolves around helping the patient overcome the anxiety issue. Therefore, any other form of relationship is not appropriate.

Anxiety Disorders Treatment

Treatment should be gender inclusive; as such, all healthcare settings need to engage in differential treatment for males and females. The healthcare requirements highlight the need for quality care and attention for everyone. Elements of equality and fairness in the healthcare industry support inclusive treatment. The various health policies and laws do not dictate differential treatment for men and women. Therefore, offering men and women differential treatment when dealing with anxiety disorders is unethical. Fairness and responsibility are absent when practitioners offer differential treatment. In an emergency, legal challenges may arise where a client may sue the practitioner for negligence. Therefore, availing of gender-inclusive treatment to eliminate health inequalities is critical.

Women are associated with increased symptom severity and functional impairment in anxiety disorders compared to men. As true as this is true, it does not guarantee them better treatment than men. Genetic factors and hormonal composition are some of the arguments used to determine women’s exposure to anxiety disorder as detrimental compared to men’s (Martin, Neighbors & Graffith, 2013). The severity of their problems has made them a segment of interest compared to men. However, it does not mean that men do not experience the severity, only that the percentage is less compared to women. If men and women acquire preferential treatment, men with severe cases would never obtain quality treatment. The mandate of healthcare professionals is to guarantee their patients quality and effective treatment without regard for their gender. Anxiety disorders have become a great menace to society, and the focus should be on aiding men and women to overcome the challenges.

📎 References:

1. Altis, K. L., Elwood, L. S., & Olatunji, B. O. (2014). Ethical issues and ethical therapy associated with anxiety disorders. In Ethical Issues in Behavioral Neuroscience (pp. 265-278). Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/7854_2014_340.
2. Hofmann, S. G., Asnaani, A., & Hinton, D. E. (2010). Cultural aspects of social anxiety and social anxiety disorder. Depression and anxiety, 27(12), 1117-1127. https://doi.org/10.1002/da.20759
3. Martin, L. A., Neighbors, H. W., & Griffith, D. M. (2013). The experience of symptoms of depression in men vs women: analysis of the National Comorbidity Survey Replication. JAMA Psychiatry, 70(10), 1100-1106. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.1985
4. Woody, S. R., Miao, S., & Kellman-McFarlane, K. (2015). Cultural differences in social anxiety: A meta-analysis of Asian and European heritage samples. Asian American Journal of Psychology, 6(1), 47. https://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0036548