Abnormal Psychology: Anxiety and Depression Case


For centuries, abnormal behavior has been thought of using models based on a spiritual and crude biological basis. Many theoretical orientations have played a part in an evolving field of abnormal psychology with the Freudian psychoanalytic model emerging in the twentieth century. In the 1950s and 1960s, behaviorism and behavior therapy came into bloom followed by the emergence of cognitive therapies in the 1980s. There exists a diversity of approaches to the assessment and treatment of mental disorders. The second chapter of Meyer’s Case Studies in Abnormal Behaviour discusses the case history of Danielle and examines Danielle’s history, biological, emotional, cognitive, and behavioral components of her disorder. The emotional component of her disorder was due to her frustrations in marriage and being unable to love. The cognitive component was from Danielle’s thought of not having a happy married life while the biological component was due to her mother’s anxious nature that made her grow with the same fear. The behavioral component was from modeling she inherited from adults’ fear of insects. How the problem patterns came about, is explained by the major theories as well as proposals on primary treatment plans (Barlow & Durand, 2012).

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Danielle’s case is concerned with a common pattern that includes persistent and nonconstant anxiety and depression as well as simple phobias. The same disorders also affect many people. Those suffering from the same disorders do not seek professional treatment because of the high treatment cost, assumption that the individual will not get cured, and also the family background.

Danielle, a 26-year old lady, present herself to a university-based psychology clinic with complaints of problems with her marriage and work. It emerges that Danielle suffers from a variety of phobias as well as varying degrees of depression and anxiety throughout her life. This emerges after several psychological tests as well as a well-structured interview. The tests, also revealed that Danielle had usually functioned within the normal range in most dimensions. She went to college, gained a degree, and also had a normal childhood that her parents characterized as reasonably adjusted. Danielle was introduced to her future husband whom she married after a brief intensive four months courtship (Meyer, Chapman & Weaver, 2009).

Danielle and the husband interacted pleasantly, but it was minimal. It was the difficulties embedded in this overall life that made Danielle visit the clinic. Danielle feared insects and snakes and from her high school years onward, she became anxious if closed in for any length in a small room (claustrophobia). She experienced periods occasionally, and this would make her feel anxious; thus, facilitating the depression (Meyer, Chapman & Weaver, 2009). At a time in college, the depression was so severe to cause her suicide, but her roommate got sensitive to the crisis making Danielle visit the campus counseling center.

Danielle’s depression and emotional component of the disorder may be analyzed by Karl Abraham’s early classic papers. These papers provided the basis for the orthodox psychoanalytic view. Depressed individuals, unable to love, project their frustrated hostility onto others and believe themselves to be rejected and hated by other people. Abraham related depression to explained loss of appetite, as well as related symptoms, in terms of unconscious desire to devour the interjected love object. The treatment of psychoanalytic issues involved a technique of allowing “free association” where the individual says whatever comes into the mind without censoring it.

Efforts to translate psychoanalytic thought into the language of learning theory were a result of efforts by behaviorists to explain phobias and anxiety development. This is considered as the behavioral perspective. According to Barlow and Durand (2012), anxiety can be thought of as a learned response that was appropriate at the time of learning, but that is now unpleasant. The avoidance inherent in the response prevents corrective learning of adaptive and newer responses. Modeling was how Danielle developed anxiety and phobic responses regarding fear of snakes and insects. Treatment for behavior perspective is through exposure therapy. Relaxation training and sometimes drugs may develop a relaxation response.

Disordered thinking patterns are critical in abnormal psychology. Cognition refers to a person thinking pattern. Theorists note that people develop certain beliefs, sometimes maybe consciously unaware, that in the end causes anxiety (Hansell & Damour, 2008). Cognitive beliefs develop depression, and this focuses more on distorted thought patterns. The distorted thought process has simultaneously resulted to minimise positive achievements, as well as magnifying problems with catastrophic expectations. Danielle had a belief that she could never again be happy, and no one would find her attractive if she left her marriage. Treatment would be helping Danielle to explore new beliefs and refresh her expectations to consciousness and clearer focus.

Cultural and social structures result in anxiety and depression. This is from a humanistic point of view in the humanistic-existential perspective. As long as society thwarts an individual’s goodness and inborn drive for self-actualization, depression, and anxiety will be inevitable. Some aspects of Danielle’s problems are a result of humanistic, social engineering change. Her anxiety and depression also made her escape making choices in her world, according to an existential therapist. This is evident with her “parallel life” established in her marriage. Making the authentic choices would have changed this pattern similar to all “conflict-habituated” marriages. Danielle was just avoiding important choices and consequences that would have burdened her (Hansell & Damour, 2008).

A person’s physiology is the biological perspective that results in depression and anxiety. She had an anxious mother, and she was a “fussy” child that led to the development of her anxiety responses. Minor tranquilizers are the drugs administered for the biological treatment of anxiety.


Abnormal psychology is common to many individuals including those who are unconsciously unaware of the situation. It has its origin dating many years back, and many theories have emerged to describe the concept. It has components like biological, cognitive, behavioral as well as social-cultural models.


Barlow, D. H., & Durand, V. M. (2012). Abnormal psychology: An integrative approach. Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning.

Hansell, J., & Damour, L. (2008). Abnormal psychology. Hoboken, N.J: Wiley.

Meyer, R. G., Chapman, L. K., & Weaver, C. M. (2009). Case studies in abnormal behavior. Boston: Pearson Education/Allyn & Bacon.

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PsychologyWriting. "Abnormal Psychology: Anxiety and Depression Case." August 23, 2023. https://psychologywriting.com/abnormal-psychology-anxiety-and-depression-case/.