What Are the Complications of Anxiety?
An anxiety disorder is a medical condition that interferes
with your life. It makes it difficult
for you to handle job or school responsibilities, do daily tasks, concentrate,
and establish and maintain personal relationships. It might make
it difficult for you to leave your home or even get out of bed. Untreated
anxiety can increase your risk of more severe, even life-threatening
potential complications of anxiety disorder include the following:
Anxiety disorder and depression often occur together. They have similar symptoms and can be
difficult to tell apart. Both can cause agitation, insomnia, the inability to
concentrate, and feelings of anxiety.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness,
over 90 percent of people who die by suicide have been diagnosed with mental
illness. This can include anxiety. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, about 4 percent of adults per year in the United States
have serious thoughts about suicide. These numbers are even higher in people
who also suffer from depression.
If you have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or social
phobia, you are also at an increased risk for suicide. If you have one of these
anxiety disorders along with depression, your risk is even greater.
If you have anxiety disorder, you are at a high risk for
addiction to many substances. These include alcohol, nicotine, and other drugs.
If you have depression along with anxiety disorder, your risk increases.
Often, people with anxiety use alcohol and other
substances to relieve their symptoms. There is no evidence that alcohol
actually relieves anxiety, but the belief that it does can bring some relief.
However, long-term alcohol use can cause biological changes that may actually
People with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic
disorder, and social phobia are especially at risk for alcohol and drug abuse.
Smoking and substance abuse are also common in cases of post-traumatic stress
disorder (PTSD). Adolescents with PTSD also have an increased risk of eating
Anxiety disorder increases your risk of developing certain illnesses. Chronic
stress can compromise your immune system. This makes you more susceptible to
infections, such as colds, the flu, and other viral and bacterial diseases.
Anxiety disorder has also been associated with:
- an increased risk of heart
- headaches, both tension
- irritable bowel syndrome
and other gastrointestinal disorders
- respiratory problems
- sleep disturbances
- teeth grinding
There is no cure for anxiety disorder. It is a chronic
condition that can take many forms. The long-term outlook depends on the
severity of your condition. Most people with OCD, phobias, and panic disorder
improve greatly within the first weeks or months of proper treatment. Many
people with PTSD and GAD can also make substantial improvement. Some symptoms
of anxiety disorder seem to diminish with age.
Stress management will probably be an ongoing concern, and
symptoms may flare during periods of acute stress. But with a combination of
medication and psychotherapy, most people with anxiety disorder can get their
symptoms under control and live a fairly normal and comfortable life.