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Anxiety Disorders: The Relationship between Insight and Metacognition.

Psychopathology 2024 March 28
BACKGROUND: The exploration of metacognition in relation to anxiety has received considerable attention in recent decades. Research indicates that it plays a role in the development and maintenance of anxiety disorders while also providing benefits, including the ability to assess situations, modify behaviors, and make informed decisions.

SUMMARY: We propose that having an awareness of a disorder, also known as insight, is related to metacognition in anxiety. This relationship stems from the ability it provides individuals to recognize their mental state through reflection on personal experiences. We discuss the impact of insight and metacognition on decision-making, treatment-seeking behaviors, and coping strategy selection.

KEY MESSAGES: Understanding the concept of insight in anxiety disorders, as compared to other mental disorders like psychosis, requires exploring its complexities while carefully considering the balance of harms and benefits. While the medicalization of symptoms in psychosis is widely regarded as clearly beneficial, evaluating the role of insight in anxiety disorders demands a more nuanced understanding. Gaining a fuller perspective on patients' beliefs can impact their behaviors and decision-making. Clinicians can achieve this by encouraging active self-reflection to increase awareness, which includes evaluating both severity and impact on daily functioning. This also involves expressing experiences and exploring attributions of anxiety. This practical approach enables clinicians to understand engagement and treatment-seeking behaviors, allowing them to tailor treatment plans and develop effective coping and management strategies. Ultimately, this knowledge promotes a deeper comprehension of insight into anxiety disorders.

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