Can we predict who will get anxiety?

The Blue Tree Clinic’s budding psychology intern Saskia Castelijn talks about her fascinating research into anxiety…

Whenever I am asked about mental health issues and which grabs my interest the most the majority of the time I would say anxiety.

Anxiety is a mental health illness which is ever growing and so looking at the potential causes is vital. Anxiety causes an individual to feel extremely anxious about a range of issues and often find it hard to control them. So what are that causes?

Well I wanted to investigate just this. Given the opportunity of running my own research I decided to develop this interest further. I chose to investigate whether there is a relationship between anxiety and parenting style and temperament or not. As the majority of research had been carried out on children and there was little to no research on individuals over eighteen I decided to focus on the latter.

What did I want to look at? Whether anxiety in adults could be predicted by parenting styles and/or temperament. I focused on three types of parenting style; Authoritarian (High levels of disciple, control, lack of warmth and affection). Authoritative (Relax and negotiable rules. Responsive and warm parents), Permissive (few demands upon their child, excessive warmth, refrain from control and discipline, they take on role of a friend rather than parent).

I focused on four temperament types; Negative affect (high sense of fear, shyness, sadness), Orienting sensitivity (Ability to detect low/ high stimuli from the environment, Effortful control (high levels of sociability, high intensity pleasure and positive affect), Extraversion (high sociability which involves enjoying social interaction).

So what did I find? I found that if you have an authoritative parent or have an extraverted temperament you are less likely to develop anxiety however if you have an authoritarian parent or have a negative affect temperament you are more likely to develop anxiety (Klonopin). The biggest finding was that negative affect temperament was not only related to anxiety but could also predict it in adults. So what does this mean?

It could be said that when a child begins to exhibit negative affect traits interventions could be implemented to prevent anxiety in adulthood; such as suggesting therapies such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which helps the individual break down their fears and worries and find logical ways of thinking. As well as this it could be said that particular parenting styles could be endorsed through the use of literature which suggests that rules are important however warmth, guidance and nurturing are also essential.

When comparing this to other research how does this fit in? Well it could be said that this research simply adds to what has been found to be potential factors of anxiety and that it will just be another experiment done to try and understand anxiety further. But is there really one factor which predict anxiety?

Of course not. There are many, with everyone being unique and different which is why carrying out this research is highly important.