A combined treatment approach to anxiety in the medically ill.
Anxiety occurs frequently in patients who are medically ill. A proper search for the underlying cause of the anxiety is essential if the clinician is to make a correct diagnosis and initiate appropriate treatment. Two aspects of the patient's history are particularly important during assessment: the duration and severity of medical illness (and treatments) and the duration and severity of anxiety symptoms. When acute anxiety is encountered, the clinician must rule out a rapidly worsening medical condition, substance-induced anxiety (toxicity or withdrawal), and a psychological reaction to stressors associated with the medical illness. During evaluation of medically ill individuals with chronic anxiety, the clinician must rule out medical disorders that can mimic anxiety disorders, psychiatric disorders associated with anxiety symptoms, and poor adjustment to the medical illness. It is also worth remembering that anxiety disorders occur at an increased frequency in individuals who have chronic medical illness.
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