Relationship between anxiety and illness

The relationship between generalized anxiety disorder, depression and mortality in old age.

relationship between anxiety and illness

Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. Mar;22(3) The relationship between generalized anxiety disorder, depression and mortality in old age. Holwerda TJ(1 ). Anxiety disorders such as social anxiety disorder (SAD) tend to be associated with illnesses such as heart disease, gastrointestinal issues, and respiratory illness. Does anxiety trigger biological processes that lead to physical health problems? Studies of the relationship between. People with social anxiety disorder may constantly worry how they are being judged by others, so they may avoid romantic relationships or dating in general.

Instead, people previously diagnosed with hypochondriasis may be diagnosed as having illness anxiety disorder, in which the focus of the fear and worry is on uncomfortable or unusual physical sensations being an indication of a serious medical condition.

Symptoms Symptoms of illness anxiety disorder involve preoccupation with the idea that you're seriously ill, based on normal body sensations such as a noisy stomach or minor signs such as a minor rash. Signs and symptoms may include: If your provider believes that you may have illness anxiety disorder, he or she may refer you to a mental health professional. Caring for a loved one Significant health anxiety can cause real distress for the person, and reassurance isn't always helpful.

Sometimes, providing reassurance can make things worse.

relationship between anxiety and illness

This can be frustrating and cause stress on families and relationships. Encourage your loved one to consider a mental health referral to learn ways to cope with illness anxiety disorder.

Causes The exact cause of illness anxiety disorder isn't clear, but these factors may play a role: You may have a difficult time tolerating uncertainty over uncomfortable or unusual body sensations. This could lead you to misinterpret that all body sensations are serious, so you search for evidence to confirm that you have a serious disease. You may be more likely to have health anxiety if you had parents who worried too much about their own health or your health.

You may have had experience with serious illness in childhood, so physical sensations may be frightening to you.

Anxiety and physical illness

Risk factors Illness anxiety disorder usually begins in early or middle adulthood and may get worse with age. Anxiety disorders and their symptoms Disorder Symptoms Generalized anxiety disorder Exaggerated worry about health, safety, money, and other aspects of daily life that lasts six months or more.

Often accompanied by muscle pain, fatigue, headaches, nausea, breathlessness, and insomnia. Phobias Irrational fear of specific things or situations, such as spiders arachnophobiabeing in crowds agoraphobiaor being in enclosed spaces claustrophobia. Social anxiety disorder social phobia Overwhelming self-consciousness in ordinary social encounters, heightened by a sense of being watched and judged by others and a fear of embarrassment.

relationship between anxiety and illness

Post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD Reliving an intense physical or emotional threat or injury for example, childhood abuse, combat, or an earthquake in vivid dreams, flashbacks, or tormented memories. Other symptoms include difficulty sleeping or concentrating, angry outbursts, emotional withdrawal, and a heightened startle response.

Panic disorder Recurrent episodes of unprovoked feelings of terror or impending doom, accompanied by rapid heartbeat, sweating, dizziness, or weakness. In these disorders, the nerves regulating digestion appear to be hypersensitive to stimulation. Because these conditions don't produce lesions like ulcers or tumors, they aren't considered life-threatening.

But their symptoms — abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea or constipation in IBS; and pain, nausea, and vomiting in functional dyspepsia — can be chronic and difficult to tolerate. There are no firm data on the prevalence of anxiety disorders in people with functional digestive disorders, but a New Zealand study of subjects with gastroenteritis inflammation of the digestive tract found an association between high anxiety levels and the development of IBS following a bowel infection.

relationship between anxiety and illness

Chronic respiratory disorders and anxiety In asthma, inflamed airways constrict spasmodically, reducing the flow of air through the lungs. In chronic obstructive pulmonary disease COPDinflammation of the airways is exacerbated by a loss of elasticity in the lungs: Although results vary, most studies have found a high rate of anxiety symptoms and panic attacks in patients who have chronic respiratory disease, with women at greater risk than men.

In several studies involving COPD patients, anxiety has been associated with more frequent hospitalization and with more severe distress at every level of lung function. So even if anxiety doesn't affect the progress of the disease, it takes a substantial toll on quality of life. Anxiety and heart disease Anxiety disorders have also been linked to the development of heart disease and to coronary events in people who already have heart disease.

Data from 3, postmenopausal women in the Women's Health Initiative showed that a history of full-blown panic attacks tripled the risk of a coronary event or stroke. Two studies — one involving Harvard Medical School and the Lown Cardiovascular Research Institute; the other, several Canadian medical colleges — concluded that among both men and women with established heart disease, those suffering from an anxiety disorder were twice as likely to have a heart attack as those with no history of anxiety disorders.

Physical benefits of treating anxiety Therapies that have been successful in treating anxiety disorders can ease the symptoms of chronic gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases. These therapies may have an important role in preventing and treating heart disease. These are the best-studied approaches: The cognitive component helps people identify and avoid thoughts that generate anxiety, and the behavioral part helps them learn how to react differently to anxiety-provoking situations.

The specifics of the treatment depend on the type of anxiety. For example, patients with generalized anxiety disorder or panic disorder may be asked to examine their lives for habits and patterns that foster a sense of dread.

They may also be taught relaxation techniques to diminish anxiety. Patients with OCD characterized by excessive washing may be asked to dirty their hands and wait with a therapist for increasingly longer intervals before cleaning up. Anxiety is often triggered by a deep-seated emotional conflict or a traumatic experience that can sometimes be explored and resolved through psychotherapy.

Anxiety and Romance: Managing Relationship Anxiety

In the first randomized controlled clinical trial comparing relaxation therapy to psychodynamic psychotherapy focused talk therapyclinician-researchers at Columbia University in New York found that panic-disorder patients treated with psychodynamic therapy had significantly fewer symptoms and functioned better socially than those who underwent relaxation therapy. Drug therapy to treat anxiety Medications alone are less effective than psychotherapy over the long term.

They may also have unpleasant side effects and interact with other medications. Still, they can be helpful when used in combination with psychotherapy. The most commonly used types of drugs include these: