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2013’S fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM5) discusses anxiety saying

Anxiety more often associated with muscle tension and vigilance in preparation for future danger and cautious or avoidant behaviors. Sometimes the level of fear or anxiety is reduced by pervasive avoidance behaviors. Panic attacks feature prominently within the anxiety disorders as a particular type of fear response.[1]

The authors of the DMS5 are careful to point out that while anxiety and fear share many signs and experiences, they are not the same thing. Fear deals with autonomic and physiological responses to an imminent threat of danger. On the other hand, anxiety is generally has a long-term effect as it deals with the possible threat of danger in the future. The National Institute of Mental health claims that at least 18% of American adults are living with some form of an anxiety disorder.[2] I propose that at least as many churches are suffering from a type of congregational anxiety.

[1] American Psychiatric Association, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-V-TR, Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association, 2013, 115-7.


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