Anxiety disorders

What are anxiety disorders?

Generalised anxiety disorder 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 where 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 regarding anxiety disorders in people with bipolar disorder?

Moderate quality evidence found the lifetime prevalence of anxiety disorders in children, adolescents, and adults with bipolar disorder is around 45%, and the prevalence in adults in the euthymic phase of the disorder is around 35%. These rates are significantly higher than in people without bipolar disorder.

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

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

March 2020

Last updated at: 5:44 am, 18th March 2020
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