If you have never felt anxious, something is wrong with you. It is okay to worry temporarily especially when we have to make important decisions when we are faced with a challenge or a test/exam. However, it is a different case entirely when this is blown out of proportion. Anxiety disorders are the most commonly encountered psychological disorders among adults and they interfere with performance, relationships and other healthy daily activities. Have you read about Stress?
Anxiety disorders are the most commonly encountered psychological disorders among adults and they interfere with performance, relationships and other healthy daily activities.
Nobody wants to be labeled as crazy, especially in an African society where stigmatization thrives like wild-fire. For this reasons, critical issues pertinent to assessing anxiety disorders are bordered on;
- Sensitivity to making the diagnosis
- Anxiety in a mask of productivity
- Other psychiatric diagnoses associated with it
- Medical conditions and medications that can cause or exacerbate anxiety disorders.
- Shyness, or behavioral inhibition, in childhood
- Being female
- Having poor economic resources
- Being divorced or widowed
- Exposure to stressful life events in childhood and adulthood
- Anxiety disorders in close biological relatives
- Parental history of mental disorders
The anxiety disorders that will be examined in this write-up will include:
- Panic disorder
- Generalized anxiety disorder
- Obsessive compulsive disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
- Social phobia and specific phobia.
As each disorder is explored, emphasis will be placed on assessment of commonly encountered psychiatric and medical conditions that contribute to anxiety symptoms. However, before considering the specific anxiety disorders to be presented in this program, it is useful to highlight the following issues:
Psychiatric Disorders associated with Anxiety Disorders
- Major depressive disorder
- Substance abuse disorders – alcohol, marijuana
- Somatization disorders (fatigue, chest pain, headache, insomnia, non-specific GI complaints)
- Complex anxiety disorders – ( Post-traumatic stress disorder with Panic disorder)
Medical Conditions associated with Exacerbating Anxiety
- Adrenal Dysfunction
Medications and Substances associated with Exacerbating Anxiety
- Stimulants (Amphetamines, caffeine, cocaine, and other over the counter “natural stimulants”)
- Withdrawal from drugs, including alcohol
- Heavy metals and toxins
- Rapid withdrawal from some antidepressants
General Action plan in dealing with anxiety and associated disorders
- Assessment for suicide risk, particularly in patients with depression and panic disorder, substance abuse or high levels of agitation.
- Identification of severity of anxiety disorder (chronic or episodic)
- Identification of substance abuse
- Assessment of key symptoms of panic disorder, fear of dying and/or fear of going crazy
- Assessment for depression or other mood disorder
- Inquiry as to the presence of anti-social behavior
- Exploration of presence of precipitating event or trauma
- Being alert to people with anxiety disorders who have insomnia, headache, non-specific GI complaints, cognitive complaints
We will be talking extensively about mental health and major associative conditions in the comings weeks. Stay tuned. Read about Stress here.