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Anxiety Disorders Associated with Physical Conditions

Need seen for improved recognition and treatment of anxiety disorders in clinical practice

MONDAY, Oct. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Anxiety disorders are linked with many serious physical conditions, a co-morbidity that increases the risk of disability and a poor quality of life, according to the results of a study published in the Oct. 23 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

Jitender Sareen, M.D., of the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada, and colleagues studied 4,181 German adults, including 429 (8.4 percent) who had had an anxiety disorder within the previous month and 2,610 (60.8 percent) who had had a physical condition within the previous month.

The researchers found that anxiety disorders were independently associated with thyroid disease, respiratory disease, gastrointestinal disease, arthritis, migraine headaches and allergic conditions (adjusted odds ratios between 1.39 and 2.12). Compared with physical disorders alone, the presence of an anxiety disorder with one or more physical disorders was associated with poorer physical component scores on the Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey and past 30-day disability due to physical problems (adjusted odds ratio, 1.69).

"In combination with recent data demonstrating that anxiety disorders are risk factors for suicidal behavior, the current study suggests that anxiety disorders should be considered an important public health problem in the community," the authors conclude. "During the last decade, efforts have been substantially increased to improve recognition and treatment of depression in general practice. Similar efforts should be strongly considered for anxiety disorders."

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