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The medical side of anxiety.

The medical side of anxiety

A random survey of 2,552 adults in the Los Angeles area finds that nearly half of those with anxiety disorders also have long-standing medical conditions, particularly arthritis, high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. About one in three people with other psychiatric disorders, such as depression, mania or alcoholism, suffer from the same medical problems--a rate comparable to that of individuals with no psychiatric disorders, according to Kenneth B. Wells of the University of California, Los Angeles, and his co-workers.

Depression, however, is often as physically disabling as many serious medical ailments (SN: 8/26/89, p.132).

The medical condition of people with anxiety disorders, which include panic attacks and phobias, has important implications for psychiatric treatment, the researchers argue in the November AMERICAN JOURNAL OF PSYCHIATRY. For instance, the sedating effects of anti-anxiety drugs may worsen arthritic symptoms. On the other hand, the same drugs used in combination with relaxation techniques may both ease anxiety and prolong the survivial of heart disease patients.

Although alcoholics in the survey showed the same rate of chronic medical illness as nonacloholics, alcohol use is a major risk factor for high blood pressure, the scientists note. Hypertensives who abuse alcohol may tend to die young, and thus turn up rarely in adult population samples, they suggest.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Dec 9, 1989
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