What is an anxiety disorder, and does Amy have this disorder?


Case Study, Mohr

CHAPTER 23, Anxiety Disorders

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In completing the case study, students will be addressing the following learning objectives:

Explain what is meant by anxiety disorder.

Identify symptoms of anxiety disorders.

1. Amy is a 33-year-old housewife who has been saying that she is worried but cannot explain why she feels worried. Amy and her husband have two children, and the family members are healthy and financially secure and have no identified problems. Amy has resigned from her volunteer position at her children’s school, stating that she is tired. Amy always had great pride in keeping an immaculate home and preparing nutritional meals for her family. For the past month, she has neglected her housework and seldom cooks meals for her family. For the past 3 weeks, Amy has told her husband that she is afraid that “something bad is going to happen to us.” Amy is now afraid for her children to leave the home to attend school and for her husband to go to his office to work.

(Learning Objectives: 1, 2)

a. What is an anxiety disorder, and does Amy have this disorder?

b. What other differential diagnoses would you consider? OR What predisposing factors or etiologies are associated with anxiety disorders?


Understanding Anxiety Disorders: A Case Study of Amy


Anxiety disorders encompass a range of mental health conditions characterized by excessive and persistent worry, fear, and unease. In this case study, we examine the experiences of Amy, a 33-year-old housewife who is currently facing unexplained worries and fears. This essay aims to explore the concept of anxiety disorders and determine whether Amy exhibits symptoms consistent with this condition.

Defining Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders are mental health disorders that involve intense feelings of fear, apprehension, and worry. These emotions go beyond what is considered normal and can significantly impact an individual’s daily life (Munir, 2022). Common anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, social anxiety disorder (SAD), and specific phobias.

Amy’s Symptoms

Amy’s case presents several symptoms that align with anxiety disorders. Firstly, she expresses a pervasive sense of worry without a specific cause or explanation. This generalized anxiety is a hallmark of GAD. Additionally, Amy’s withdrawal from her volunteer position and neglect of household responsibilities may indicate a loss of interest or motivation, which can be attributed to anxiety (“Poster Session I,” 2011). Her fear for her children’s safety and her husband’s well-being also suggests excessive worry and fear associated with anxiety disorders.

Differential Diagnoses

While Amy’s symptoms are suggestive of an anxiety disorder, it is important to consider other potential differential diagnoses. Other conditions that may present with similar symptoms include major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and adjustment disorder. These conditions share overlapping features with anxiety disorders and may require careful evaluation to establish an accurate diagnosis.

Predisposing Factors and Etiologies

Anxiety disorders can arise from a combination of genetic, environmental, and psychological factors. Predisposing factors that contribute to the development of anxiety disorders include a family history of anxiety disorders, childhood trauma, chronic stress, and certain personality traits (e.g., high neuroticism) (Martin et al., 2009). Additionally, imbalances in brain chemistry, particularly involving neurotransmitters like serotonin and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), have been implicated in the etiology of anxiety disorders.


Based on the information provided, it is reasonable to suspect that Amy may be experiencing an anxiety disorder. Her unexplained worries, withdrawal from usual activities, and excessive fear for her family’s safety align with common symptoms of anxiety disorders. However, a comprehensive evaluation by a mental health professional is necessary to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other potential conditions. Understanding the nature of anxiety disorders, their symptoms, and associated predisposing factors is crucial in providing appropriate support and treatment for individuals like Amy who may be struggling with these conditions.


Martin, E. A., Ressler, K. J., Binder, E. B., & Nemeroff, C. B. (2009). The Neurobiology of Anxiety Disorders: Brain Imaging, Genetics, and Psychoneuroendocrinology. Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 32(3), 549–575. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.psc.2009.05.004 

Munir, S. (2022, October 17). Generalized Anxiety Disorder. StatPearls – NCBI Bookshelf. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK441870/ 

Poster Session I. (2011). Neuropsychopharmacology, 36(S1), S75–S197. https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2011.291 

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