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/situation, resulting in avoidance. Social phobia is anxiety provoked by social or performance situations, and agoraphobia is anxiety about situations where escape may be difficult or help might not be available. Panic disorder is often the most debilitating anxiety disorder, involving recurring panic attacks which are distinct periods where a person experiences sudden apprehension and fearfulness, where they may present to services with shortness of breath, palpitations, chest pain or choking.

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

Moderate quality evidence suggests the rate of any anxiety disorder in people with schizophrenia is high, at around 38% compared to around 18% in the general population. Around 29% of people presenting with a first-episode of psychosis and around 15% of people with mild subclinical symptoms of psychosis also experience anxiety.

Social anxiety disorder was reported in around 21% of patients with schizophrenia, social phobia in around 15% of patients, generalised anxiety disorder in around 11% of patients, panic disorder in around 10% of patients, specific phobias in around 8% of patients, and agoraphobia in around 5% of patients.

June 2020

Last updated at: 5:29 am, 16th June 2020
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