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17.1 Stress and Anxiety

Individuals often experience stress, both emotional and physical, during their lifetime. Chronic stress has been linked to adverse health outcomes, such as weakened immune systems, slow wound healing, and an increased risk of chronic diseases (Ford et al., 2023). As such, nursing professionals must recognize signs of stress in their clients and employ effective stress-reduction techniques. Effective strategies to alleviate client stress include clear communication, creating a comfortable environment, involving clients in decision-making, and providing psychological support (Chesak et al., 2019).

Anxiety is a diagnosable mental health condition that comes in various forms and degrees. Anxiety is characterized by feelings of fear, apprehension, and unease, often accompanied by physical symptoms, such as sweating, palpitations, and shortness of breath. There are many strategies that a person can employ to help prevent or relieve anxiety. If these are unsuccessful, the person might be recommended a range of therapeutic or pharmaceutical approaches to treatment.

17.2 Anxiety-Related Disorders

GAD, phobias, and panic disorder are distinct anxiety disorders, each with unique characteristics and treatment approaches. GAD is characterized by chronic and excessive worry about daily life, often accompanied by physical symptoms, such as muscle tension and sleep disturbances (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). Phobias are marked by an intense and irrational fear of specific objects or situations that leads to avoidance behavior; exposure therapy is a common and effective treatment for phobias (Choy et al., 2007). Panic disorder involves recurrent and unexpected panic attacks, often accompanied by anticipatory anxiety and avoidance of panic-inducing situations. While these disorders share some common features, such as the involvement of fear and anxiety, their diagnostic criteria, underlying mechanisms, and treatment strategies differ, necessitating a tailored approach to care for each individual (Cleveland Clinic, 2023).

17.3 Obsessive–Compulsive and Related Disorders

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic mental health disorder in which obsessive thoughts lead to anxiety that individuals attempt to soothe with compulsive rituals. The condition can be very disruptive for the person, leading to challenges in their ability to work, study, or carry out social relationships. In addition, the condition may result in physical and emotional difficulties for the person. There are a variety of treatments, among them, pharmaceuticals, imaginal exposure, exposure and response prevention, and habit reversal training.

17.4 Trauma-Induced and Stress-Related Disorders

This section explored various mental and emotional disorders, providing insight into causes, diagnosis, symptoms, nursing care, and treatment approaches. BDD, hoarding, trichotillomania, excoriation, PTSD, ASD, and attachment disorders all have genetic, neurobiological, and environmental influences to various degrees. Most of these disorders respond to a combination of pharmaceutical and therapeutic interventions, and many also benefit from alternative and self-help therapies. Planning nursing care necessitates understanding each client’s situation, background, history, and symptoms, and individualizing care to support recovery.

17.5 Dissociative Identity Disorder

Dissociative disorders are mental conditions characterized by a disconnection between thoughts, memories, feelings, actions, or sense of identity. These disorders often stem from trauma. DID is characterized by the presence of two or more distinct identity states that control an individual’s behavior, consciousness, and memory. Symptoms include memory gaps, altered perceptions, confusion about personal identity, and the existence of different personalities. DID is a complex disorder requiring a nuanced and individualized treatment approach, emphasizing safety, psychotherapeutic intervention, integration, and rehabilitation. Understanding the definition, symptoms, and treatment strategies is essential for effectively managing and supporting individuals with DID (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).


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