Anxiety disorders

What are anxiety disorders?

Anxiety disorders include generalised anxiety disorder, which is characterised by continuous and excessive worrying for six months or more. Specific phobias are characterised by anxiety provoked by a feared object or situation, resulting in avoidance. Social phobia is anxiety provoked by social or performance situations. Agoraphobia is anxiety about situations where escape may be difficult or help might not be available. Panic disorder is characterised by a panic attack, which is a distinct episode where a person experiences sudden apprehension and fearfulness, and may experience shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pain or feeling of choking.

What is the evidence for anxiety in people with bipolar disorder?

Moderate quality evidence suggests the lifetime prevalence of anxiety disorders in people with bipolar disorder is around 45%, and the current prevalence in people in the euthymic phase of the disorder is around 35%. Moderate to low quality evidence suggests the prevalence of anxiety disorders in children or youth with bipolar disorder is around 54%. These rates are significantly higher than in people without bipolar disorder, and an early age of onset of bipolar disorder is associated with an increased risk of developing an anxiety disorder.

The most common anxiety disorders in adults with bipolar disorder were generalised, social anxiety, specific phobias, and panic disorders. The most common anxiety disorders in children and youth with bipolar disorder were generalised anxiety disorder and separation anxiety disorder.

Moderate to low quality evidence suggests cognitive behavioural therapy is effective for improving anxiety symptoms in people with bipolar disorder.

April 2019

Last updated at: 5:44 am, 9th April 2019
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