The anxious patient

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Anxiety disorders are among the most common psychiatric conditions worldwide, and persons with anxiety disorders consume a substantial portion of health services, including emergency services. In one study, anxiety disorders constituted 36% of psychiatric diagnoses made in the emergency department (ED), but only a minority of these patients required emergency psychiatric consultation. Patients tended to be referred for emergency psychiatric evaluation only when they had comorbid depression, absence of medical illness, or when a triage nurse elicited psychiatrically relevant information. An understanding of the heterogeneity of disorders that can present with a significant anxiety component is essential to those who practice in acute care environments. In EDs and many other settings, anxiety-related presentations often receive lower priority than other conditions. Emergency physicians tend not to view anxiety as a condition that is life or limb threatening and thus, are likely to provide only reassurance and small amounts of benzodiazepines or antihistamines to anxious patients who have a comorbid medical illness. However, anxiety sufficient to cause an ED visit is likely to be extremely distressing to the patient. Thus, an understanding of anxiety-related disorders is critical in providing the appropriate treatment, which in some cases, may be to avoid certain medications, including benzodiazepines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationEmergency Psychiatry
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781139021319
ISBN (Print)9780521879262
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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