The patients of anxiety disorders tend to suffer from a range of co-morbid physical conditions that determine a novel syndrome, a new research has found. It thus debunks the belief so far that anxiety disorders do not cause physical symptoms in patients. Surprisingly, the previous studies overlooked physical problems thought about by anxiety disorders, brushing them off as mere somatic disorders.
Titled "A Novel Anxiety and Affective Spectrum Disorder of Mind and Body-The ALPIM (Anxiety-Laxity-Pain-Immune-Mood) Syndrome: A Preliminary Report," the study found that the prevalence of anxiety, laxity, pain, immune, and mood is more common in anxiety disorder patients than the general population who do not suffer from any anxiety disorder. Moreover, they also noted a number of significant associations between disorders within the domains.
"Our results provide further evidence to support a possible common pathophysiologic pathway towards the development of a related set of psychiatric and physical conditions, which were previously considered and, in certain instances, were unrelated," the researchers said.
The symptoms earlier discarded as normal physical disorders in psychiatry are now being treated as sterling symptoms of anxiety disorder in patients. "Viewing patients as sharing a psychological propensity towards somatizing behavior essentially denies patients access to care for the diagnosable medical conditions with which they present," the researchers noted. This information would come handy for all anxiety disorder treatment clinics in USA , where they can have a clear understanding of any physical symptoms shown by the patients.
For this, the researchers coined a term ALPIM (Anxiety-Laxity-Pain-Immune-Mood), which is a domain-defined clinical syndrome in which co-morbidity symptoms exist along a spectrum and corresponding to their relative domain. For instance, the anxiety domain includes panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder. For the laxity domain, it included joint laxity, mitral valve prolapse, scoliosis, double jointedness, and easy bruising.
The pain domain included fibromyalgia, chronic daily headaches, interstitial cystitis, and prostatitis. And the immune domain included asthma, hypothyroidism, chronic fatigue syndrome, and allergic rhinitis. The mood domain finally included bipolar I, bipolar II, and bipolar III disorders, major depressive episodes, and antidepressant medication tachyphylaxis.
The investigators then formulated an ALPIM inventory questionnaire, designed in a way to identify the conditions that fall within its spectrum. They conducted the research on 72 patients with anxiety disorder which average age is 43.19 years and 76 percent of them, women. When compared with the general population, the study group exhibited consistently higher co-morbid conditions. For instance, the prevalence of joint laxity and mitral valve prolapse in the study group was found to be 59.3 percent and 32.9 percent against 10 and 15 percent respectively among the general population.
Similar differences were also glaring in other domains. Anxiety patients treated from fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome in the ratio of 80 percent and 76.3 percent against 2.1 percent and 17 percent respectively among the general population. The immune conditions also shown similar differences in symptoms like allergic rhinitis and chronic fatigue syndrome. The prevalence of the major depressive disorder in the study population was also reported to be higher than the general population.
"We conclude that patients with ALPIM syndrome possess a probable genetic propensity that underlies a biological diagnosis of the development of the spectrum of disorders. they present, "the researchers said.
This clearly indicates that anxiety disorder results in co-morbid physical conditions in patients suffering from it. Here, whenever an anxiety disorder patient complains of physical discomfort, it should be taken seriously and not passed off as any somatic reasons. Immediate professional intervention should be taken in such a case.