The Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA) released a white paper in June that informs physicians about identifying and treating generalized anxiety disorder. The paper, available for free on the ADAA Web site-- www.adaa.org--explains that such physical symptoms as heart palpitations, sweating, muscle tension and digestive problems could be indicators of an anxiety problem if medical causes have been ruled out.
The paper outlines the efficacy of various treatment options and suggests that physicians counsel patients on making lifestyle changes that may help, such as reducing caffeine, managing insomnia and exercising regularly. It also encourages them to refer patients who need more help to a mental health professional.
And, perhaps most importantly, it calls for the physician and mental health professional to follow up with each other, says psychologist Jonathan Abramowitz, PhD, director of the anxiety disorders program at the Mayo Clinic and one of six psychologists who contributed to the report.
"Just because the person has an anxiety disorder doesn't mean they don't have some sort of medical problem," he explains. "It is important for the psychologist or psychiatrist to follow up with the physician to make sure all of the medical tests are coming out normal."
--D. SMITH BAILEY