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Food As A Means To Treat Anxiety

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Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States. In this project, I chose to explore how food is one of the most accessible and inexpensive ways of treating anxiety. This creative project examines the major

Anxiety is one of the most common mental illnesses in the United States. In this project, I chose to explore how food is one of the most accessible and inexpensive ways of treating anxiety. This creative project examines the major key components of gut health including the balance of neurotransmitters and bacteria in the gut, restoring hydrochloric acid through celery juice, removing heavy metal toxins through food, eating fermented foods, and limiting refined carbohydrates, and high-sugar consumption. Additionally, this creative project explores my own personal journey through the implementation of foods that influence anxiety revealed in a systemic review over the course of a 6-week period.

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2021-05

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Developmental changes in anxiety and social competence in early childhood: exploring growth and the roles of child temperament and gender

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This dissertation examined how anxiety levels and social competence change across the course of early elementary school, as well as how individual differences at the transition to kindergarten may influence these trajectories. Previous research has supported unidirectional relations among anxiety

This dissertation examined how anxiety levels and social competence change across the course of early elementary school, as well as how individual differences at the transition to kindergarten may influence these trajectories. Previous research has supported unidirectional relations among anxiety and social competence, but few studies explore how inter- and intra-individual changes in social competence and anxiety may be related across time. From a developmental perspective, studying these trajectories following the transition to kindergarten is important, as cognitive and emotion regulation capacities increase markedly across kindergarten, and the relative success with which children navigate this transition can have a bearing on future social and emotional functioning across elementary school. In addition, given gender differences in anxiety manifestation and social competence development broadly, gender differences were also examined in an exploratory manner. Data from parent and teacher reports of a community sample of 291 children across kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd grades were analyzed. Results from bivariate growth models revealed steeper increases in anxiety, relative to peers in the sample, were associated with steeper decreases in social competence across time. This finding held after controlling for externalizing behavior problems at each time point, which suggests that relations among anxiety and social competence may be independent of other behavior problems commonly associated with poor social adjustment. Temperament variables were associated with changes in social competence, such that purportedly "risky" temperament traits of higher negative emotionality and lower attention control were associated with concurrently lower social competence in kindergarten, but with relatively steeper increases in social competence across time. Temperament variables in kindergarten were unrelated with changes in anxiety across time. Gender differences in relations among anxiety in kindergarten and growth in social competence also were revealed. Findings for teacher and parent reports of child behavior varied. Results are discussed with respect to contexts that may drive differences between parent and teacher reports of child behavior, as well as key developmental considerations that may help to explain why kindergarten temperament variables examined herein appear to predict changes in social competence but not changes in anxiety levels.

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Date Created
2016

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Anxiety and Subjective Response to Alcohol: Moderating Effects of Drinking Context and Mediation by Cortisol Response to Alcohol

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Anxiety disorder diagnosis is a risk factor for alcohol use disorders (AUDs), but mechanisms of risk are not well understood. Studies show that anxious individuals receive greater negative reinforcement from alcohol when consumed prior to a stressor, but few studies

Anxiety disorder diagnosis is a risk factor for alcohol use disorders (AUDs), but mechanisms of risk are not well understood. Studies show that anxious individuals receive greater negative reinforcement from alcohol when consumed prior to a stressor, but few studies have examined whether anxious individuals receive greater negative (or positive) reinforcement from alcohol in a general drinking context (i.e., no imminent stressor). Previous studies have also failed to examine possible moderating effects of specific drinking contexts (e.g., drinking in a group or alone). Finally, no studies have investigated mediating variables that might explain the relationship between anxiety and reinforcement from alcohol, such as physiological response to alcohol (e.g., cortisol response). Data for this study were drawn from a large alcohol administration study (N = 447) wherein participants were randomized to receive alcohol (target peak BAC: .08 g%) or placebo in one of four contexts: group simulated bar, solitary simulated bar, group sterile laboratory, solitary sterile laboratory. It was hypothesized that anxiety would be associated with positive subjective response (SR) under alcohol (above and beyond placebo), indicating stronger reinforcement from alcohol. It was also hypothesized that social and physical drinking context would moderate this relationship. Finally, it was hypothesized that anxiety would be associated with a blunted cortisol response to alcohol (compared to placebo) and this blunted cortisol response would be associated with stronger positive SR and weaker negative SR. Results showed that anxiety was not associated with positive SR in the full sample, but drinking context did moderate the anxiety/SR relationship in most cases (e.g., anxiety was significantly associated with positive SR (stimulation) under placebo in solitary contexts only). There was no evidence that cortisol response to alcohol mediated the relationship between anxiety and SR. This study provides evidence that anxious drinkers expect stronger positive reinforcement from alcohol in solitary contexts, which has implications for intervention (e.g., modification of existing interventions like expectancy challenge). Null findings regarding cortisol response suggest alcohol’s effect on cortisol response to stress (rather than cortisol response to alcohol consumption) may be more relevant for SR and drinking behavior among anxious individuals.

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2018