Anxiety disorders

How are anxiety disorders related to PTSD?

Some people with PTSD can have a co-occurring anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are a group of mental disorders characterised by excessive fear or worrying.

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/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, where they may present with shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pain or choking.

What is the evidence for rates of anxiety disorders in people with PTSD?

Moderate quality evidence finds the rate of anxiety disorders in veterans with PTSD is between 13% and 19%. One small study reported prevalence as high as 59% in veterans. There were no reviews meeting inclusion criteria on other PTSD samples.

Moderate to low quality evidence finds a medium-sized increase in generalised anxiety disorder in prisoners with PTSD compared to prisoners without PTSD. Rates were highest in males and in adult prisoners, and in prisoners with any lifetime rather than a current diagnosis of PTSD.

August 2021

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Last updated at: 3:03 am, 8th August 2021
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Fact Sheet Technical Commentary
Tags:  Anxiety

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