1 - Introduction: the need for interdisciplinary approaches  pp. 1-5

Introduction: the need for interdisciplinary approaches

By Helen Blair Simpson, Yuval Neria, Roberto Lewis-Fernández and Franklin Schneier

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Anxiety research has exploded over the past few decades, yielding a wealth of new information in multiple domains. These domains include underlying neurobiology, risk and protective factors, patterns of expression of normal and pathological anxiety, cultural determinants of this expression, and the delineation of specific anxiety disorders and their evidence-based treatments. As areas of research become increasingly specialized, the need to integrate our understanding across these different domains has become increasingly more important, calling for an interdisciplinary approach. This book brings together research relevant to anxiety disorders from a variety of disciplines into one volume, with the hope that it will encourage readers to bridge these disciplines to further advance our understanding of anxiety and the treatment of anxiety disorders.

Anxiety is a universal human emotion. It alerts us to potential threats and motivates us to prepare for challenges. However, a surprisingly large proportion of the population experiences an excess of anxiety that is counterproductive or even debilitating. This excess often takes the form of prototypical syndromes, which have been termed “anxiety disorders.” In the fourth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV), the anxiety disorders include panic disorder, agoraphobia, social anxiety disorder (SAD, also known as social phobia), specific phobia, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), acute stress disorder, obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD), and separation anxiety disorder.

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