From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Anxiety is a complex combination of the feeling of fear, apprehension and worry often accompanied by physical sensations such as palpitations, chest pain and/or shortness of breath. It may exist as a primary disorder or may be associated with other medical problems including other psychiatric disorders.
A chronically recurring case of anxiety that has a serious affect on your life may be clinically diagnosed as an anxiety disorder. The most common are Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Panic disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, phobias,Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
A good medical history and physical examination are essential for the initial diagnosis of any of the anxiety disorders in order to exclude any other significant, treatable medical conditions that could be causing the symptoms of anxiety. A family history of anxiety disorders or other psychiatric illnesses present strenghtens the case for an anxiety disorder.
As there is a high association for anxiety for other psychiatric problems including drug abuse and depression, the physical examination should include checking for evidence of intravenous drug use or previous episodes of self-harm.
The acute symptoms of anxiety are often controlled with anxiolytic agents such as the benzodiazepines. Valium(diazepam) was one of the first such drugs. SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) have been successfully used to treat patients with chronic anxiety. The serotonin agonist, buspirone, is also sometimes prescribed. Behavioral andcognitive therapy are the most popular and most effective forms of psychotherapy used to treat anxiety. Exercise and other physical activities are thought to relieve stress and anxiety as well. Alcohol is probably the most widely used substance for the alleviation of anxiety, though it is much less effective than the benzodiazepines.
Anxiety in palliative care
Some research has strongly suggested that treating anxiety in cancer patients improves their quality of life.
Anxiety and alternative medicine
See also: angst
- eMedicine article on anxiety (http://www.emedicine.com/emerg/topic35.htm)