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Focus on Anxiety Disorders

Attending to Anxiety Disorders in Primary Care

Murray B. Stein, MD, FRCPC

Published: October 1, 2003

Article Abstract

Anxiety disorders are highly prevalent among patients in primary care. These conditions can bedisabling and costly to the patient and to the health care system. Despite the prevalence of anxietydisorders, however, patients often remain undiagnosed and untreated, and patients with unrecognizedanxiety disorders tend to be high users of general medical care. Diagnosis may be complicated by thetypical presentation in primary care; patients with anxiety disorders may present with multiple somaticcomplaints and comorbid disorders, causing great effort and expense in identifying the cause ofunexplained symptoms. Once anxiety disorders are identified, patients may be treated using well-testedand efficacious psychosocial and pharmacologic treatments. It is therefore important for primarycare physicians to recognize and treat patients with anxiety disorders.

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