Extent of Problem

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Generalised anxiety disorder is one of the most common psychiatric conditions. Paradoxically, patients with this problem are known to visit general practitioners and cardiologists more than psychiatrists. According to studies:

  • Life time prevalence of the condition is up to 5% (according to community surveys).
  • Annual prevalence rate ranges from 3 – 8%.
  • It is twice as common in women than in men.
  • In children and adolescents the condition often affects the quality of their performance. Such children are very suggestible and require frequent reassurances about their performance.
  • This condition seems to run in families. However, data is inconsistent.

What causes anxiety

The following conditions may give rise to anxiety:


General Medical Conditions

  • Thyroid problems
  • Heart problems

o    Heart failure

o    Heart attack

o    Angina

o    Hypertension

  • Anemia
  • Diabetes
  • Premenstrual syndrome
  • Respiratory problems

o    Bronchitis

o    Asthma

  • Vitamin deficiencies like V B12
  • Neurological problems

o    Cancers

o    Encephalitis

Substance – Induced Anxiety

  • Alcoholism, cannabis, opioids.
  • Alcohol withdrawal.
  • Amphetamines use, methylphenidate.
  • Caffeine use and withdrawal.

Prescribed drugs that can cause anxiety

  • Thyroxin
  • Penicillin
  • Vasopressor agents
  • Antidepressants (fluoxetine)

Hereditary causes

About 20% of relatives of patients with this condition suffer from Anxiety disorder. However, data is inconsistent.

Biological theories 

There are evidences that suggest that derangement of certain neurochemicals in the brain leads to anxiety e.g. increased catecholamines have been correlated with anxiety.