Defining anxiety disorders
People with an anxiety disorder suffer intense, persistent feelings of unrest, panic and fear of which the cause is not always clear.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) that is used worldwide by psychiatrists to classify disorders, distinguishes the following anxiety disorders:
- Specific phobia
- Social-anxiety disorder (social phobia)
- Panic disorder
- Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Anxiety disorder due to a somatic condition
- Other specific anxiety disorders
- Anxiety disorder not otherwise specified
Although with the introduction of the DSM-5 a number of disorders that were originally classified under anxiety disorders have been assigned to other categories, NijCa²re remains invested in research into the following disorders:
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Acute stress disorder
- Hypochondria (abnormal fear of illness)
- Body Dismorphic Disorder (BDD)
Having an anxiety disorder seriously interferes with daily functioning, both at home and at the workplace. If left untreated, people suffering from persisting anxiety often start avoiding situations, causing a downward spiral. Someone with a panic disorder may, for instance, increasingly avoid going (grocery) shopping out of fear they will have a panic attack. Leaving their home less and less, they may develop a depressive disorder. To alleviate their anxiety and depression, some may turn to alcohol or drugs.
Second only to cardiovascular disease, anxiety disorders cause the greatest burden to patients in terms of life years lost to illness. The healthcare burden of anxiety disorders also is substantial, with doctor visits being three to five times higher in people suffering from an anxiety disorder. Still, despite their high prevalence and considerable level of associated dysfunction, anxiety disorders often go unrecognised and undiagnosed and, accordingly, untreated.