Anxiety disorders

What are anxiety disorders in bipolar disorder?

Comorbid anxiety disorders are common in people with bipolar disorder. 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 is around 35%. These rates are significantly higher than in people without bipolar disorder.

The most common anxiety disorders in adults were generalised and social anxiety disorders, agoraphobia, specific phobias, and panic disorders. The most common anxiety disorders in children were generalised and separation anxiety disorders. The most common anxiety disorders in adolescents 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.

Please also see the related topics on comorbid post-traumatic stress disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder, which are no longer considered anxiety disorders in the DSM-5.

October 2021

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Last updated at: 11:54 pm, 19th October 2021
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Fact Sheet Technical Commentary
Tags:  Anxiety

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