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Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Medical Illness

J Clin Psychiatry 2009;70(suppl 2):20-24

Patients with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) often have multiple medical comorbidities. The adrenal system and genetic and environmental factors are intermediaries between anxiety and medical illnesses such as chronic pain conditions and gastrointestinal, cardiovascular, endocrine, and respiratory disorders. Medical disorders associated with anxiety include migraine, rheumatoid arthritis, peptic ulcer disease, irritable bowel syndrome, coronary heart disease, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder. Compared to people with pain conditions without GAD, individuals with pain conditions and GAD experience and register pain differently; they also have increased awareness of symptoms. Comorbid medical illnesses may influence treatment choice for GAD. Treatment of anxiety in young patients with GAD needs to be long-term to decrease vulnerability to medical conditions.