An optimum anxiety level is necessary for the day to day functioning as it enhances performance and helps us to prevent risks. However, if it is very high it becomes a hindrance and sometimes can take over our lives.
Anxiety can sometimes present as physical symptoms and it can take many shapes, like free-floating anxiety, panic disorder, agoraphobia, OCD and in extreme cases, and given the circumstances, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. They warrant different approaches.
It is not infrequent that people with anxiety disorders will self-medicate with alcohol or other substances developing a collateral problem which might mask the original one. An accurate diagnosis is crucial in order to provide the right approach which might consist of pharmacological and psychological interventions.
Generalised Anxiety Disorder has a lifetime prevalence of 5-9% and up to 74% of cases have a comorbidity with other anxiety disorder. Panic Attacks have a lifetime prevalence of 7-9%. Social Phobia has a lifetime prevalence of 2.4 to 13.3%. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder has a lifetime prevalence of 2.5%. PTSD has a lifetime prevalence of 7.8%. These listed conditions can be very disabling and unless they are properly addressed they can ruin people´s lives. Other disorders, like specific phobias tend to be less disabling as they only happen in certain circumstances.
An accurate diagnosis assessing co-morbidities and collateral problems is crucial in order to achieve a successful outcome. Somatic symptoms of anxiety can be interpreted as body dysfunctions and trigger many physical investigations. Nevertheless a thorough physical health assessment is necessary when it comes to anxiety disorders as it can also a manifestation of an underlying physical health problem.