Anxiety and Its Affect On Math Performance

Anxiety is a common psychiatric disorder that affects the functioning of a significant number of individuals in the United States within their lifetime. The National Institute of Mental Health reports more than 19 million adult Americans ages 18 to 54 have anxiety disorders (NIH, 2001). For these millions of individuals, anxieties and fear are persistent and overwhelming, and can interfere with daily life. These people suffer from anxiety disorders, a group of five psychiatric disorders that can be terrifying and crippling, but are treatable. Experts believe that anxiety disorders are caused by a combination of biological and environmental factors, much like physical disorders such as heart disease or diabetes. Anxiety disorders are real, serious, and treatable (Anxiety Disorders Association of America, 2001). Anxiety can rouse one to action. It can gear one up to face a threatening situation. It can make one study harder for that exam, and keep one on their toes when making a speech. In general, it can help one to cope. But if that person has an anxiety disorder, this normally helpful emotion can do just the opposite-it can keep one from coping and can disrupt their daily life. Anxiety disorders aren’t just a case of “nerves.” They are illnesses, often related to the biological makeup and life experiences of the individual, and they frequently run in families. Anxiety disorders are the most common of all the mental disorders (National Institute of Mental Health, 2001). Anxiety affects a cross section of society including children, adolescents, and young adults. The most common form of anxiety affecting children, adolescents, and young adults is performance anxiety (Haid, 1999; Bakunas, 2001; Abbott-Chapman, 1994). Previous research investigated the causes of anxiety examining several types of anxieties and their symptoms. According to the anxiety-as-process model, anxiety is a result of a chain reaction that consists o…

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