“They do all the worrying about reality, so kids tend to fall behind in learning how to adapt to reality, which can lead to anxiety.” “Worry,” a human habit, is now used interchangeably with the clinical diagnosis of “anxiety,” says Russell.
He draws a line between fear and anxiety: “Fear is a basic animal brain response.
It’s a constant reminder of the challenges of modern life.
At the top of the list: pressure on women to perform Cirque du Soleil-style work-family “balancing acts,” which now include remembering to “lean in” at the office.
(“Negative life events, even minor ones, are more traumatic for females than for males of all ages,” she writes.) The point is illustrated, not with scientific data, but with a folksy Garrison Keillor story about a mother and father seeing their son off on the bus to overnight camp. Research outlining the health risks of stress is mounting.
The father enthusiastically shares his own camp adventures while the mother is silent, caught up in pointless worry: “Do the brakes work? And it’s communicated via a conduit blamed for increasing anxiety: the Internet, that transmitter of often contradictory information overload—“all of the scary things happening around the world on a moment-to-moment basis,” as Peters puts it.
The term “worrying” has replaced “thinking,” says California-based clinical psychologist Daniel Peters, the author of two new books—, directed at parents.
“People don’t say, ‘I’m thinking about this’ anymore; they say, ‘I’m worrying about this.’ ” Like a virus, worry begets worry, literally.
But the vilification of worry, as framed in the “warrior-worrier” divide, also reflects a cultural moment, a shift from valuing prudence, thoughtfulness and sensitivity to others, once viewed as key to adaptation and survival.
In their stead, there is a renewed veneration of the aggressive, Wolf of Wall Street, risk-taking personality able to thrive in a turbo-charged workplace, damn the consequences and the effects on co-workers.
The was revised in 1987 to include “chronic worry” as a mental health problem and identify it as the primary feature of GAD.
Many mental health professionals regard the arbitrary definition of GAD as a problem, among them psychiatrist Allan Frances, author of Saving Normal: An Insider’s Revolt Against Out-of-Control Psychiatric Diagnosis, DSM-5, Big Pharma, and the Medicalization of Ordinary Life: “There is no clear line separating normal worry from a mental disorder,” Frances says in a email.
“Anxiety is part of being a woman,” writes psychologist Joyce Benenson of Boston’s Emmanuel College (with Henry Markovits of the Université du Quebec). Psychologist Michel Dugas of Concordia University sees worry as a bell curve: Moderate levels improve functioning, while excess levels cause a decline in performance.