Anxiety disorders are disorders wherein the patient experiences uncontrollable fear or anxiety with behavioral disturbances that affects normal functioning.

Generalized anxiety disorder is having excessive anxiety and worry occurring for at least 6 months about several events or activities. The person finds it difficult to control the worry.
Panic disorder is when the person experienced recurrent unexpected panic attacks.
Social anxiety disorder is marked and persistent fear of social or performance situations in which the person is exposed to unfamiliar people or to possible scrutiny by others.

Differential Diagnosis

Medical Illness

  • Evaluate for underlying disorders that may cause symptoms of anxiety
    • Eg hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, Cushing’s disease, cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, mitral valve prolapse, etc
  • Treat illness appropriately

Substance Abuse/Medication Use

  • Inquire about withdrawal or use of addictive substances that may cause anxiety (eg Caffeine, Nicotine, alcohol, illegal substance)
    • Misuse of alcohol or drugs may be an attempt to reduce anxiety in patients with social anxiety disorder
  • Obtain history of medications that may cause anxiety (eg steroids, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), Thyroxine, Theophylline, herbal products)
  • Assess for substance abuse
    • Substance abuse may be a complication of generalized anxiety disorder

Other Psychiatric Disorders

  • Major depression
  • Patient may present with mixed anxiety-depressive disorder
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