Biopsychosocial Model

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According to mental health organisation Beyond Blue, approximately one million Australians experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in any given year, and approximately 12% of Australians experience PTSD sometime during their life (Beyond Blue, 2015). Approximately 6% of Australians will experience Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) during their life. PTSD and GAD have been found to be related with each other, as they share a number of causes towards the development of their disorders (Brown, O’Leary & Barlow, 2001; Yehuda, 2002; Lissek et al., 2005). The biopsychosocial model attempts to understand disorders such as PTSD and GAD by linking influences from three areas: biological, psychological, and social. Biological influences can…show more content…
There have been suggestions though that key parts of the brain can contribute to the development of these disorders. The limbic system is suggested to contribute to PTSD and GAD (Pitman et al., 2012). One of the functions of this system is to examine the environment for threats, so increase levels of activity of the system in PTSD and GAD patients may result in higher likelihood of perceiving neutral stimuli as threatening stimuli. The limbic system is also linked to the sympathetic nervous system, which is why PTSD and GAD patients display physiological reactions to the possible threats. Within the limbic system, the key brain structures involved are the hippocampus and amygdala. The hippocampus plays a key role in memory consolidation. The hippocampus has been suggested to fail using conceptual cues in the environment, which leads to more unconscious reactions to the stimuli, rather than consciously interpreting the cues. Chronic stress can damage the hippocampus. It has also been found that patients with PTSD have a lower volume of the hippocampus (Gurvits et al., 1996; Pitman et al., 2012). The intensity of the event can also have an effect on the hippocampus, with less severe events having no effect, suggesting that the severity of the event can be a significant risk factor in the development of PTSD. The amygdala is also a key area of the brain involved in the development of worry disorders. The amygdala is responsible for the recognition of dangerous stimuli and the coordination of the fear response. It has also been found to have altered activity levels in people with PTSD and GAD (Liberzon et al., 1999; Pitman et al., 2012). Furthermore, there is greater amygdala activation in response to trauma-related stimuli such as sounds and photographs, as well as greater activation towards
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