Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada

Anxiety Disorders Association of Canada

December 06, 2006 07:00 ET

ADAC: Canadians Struggle to Get Adequate Treatment for Anxiety Disorders

MONTREAL, QUEBEC--(CCNMatthews - Dec. 6, 2006) - The Statistics Canada Community Health Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing has revealed that anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problems in Canada. This recent survey estimates that 1,040,000 Canadians (3.2%) have social anxiety disorder, 480,000 Canadians (1.5%) have panic disorder, and 227,000 Canadians (0.7%) have agoraphobia. Anxiety disorders were especially common in the young people in the survey (ages 15 to 24) with 6.5% experiencing one of these problems over the last year and 12% over their lifetime. These are low estimates of the rates of serious anxiety disorders in the population because several important anxiety disorders such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive- Compulsive Disorder, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Specific Phobia were not surveyed. Anxiety disorders are more common in women than men and among those experiencing high levels of stress. Identifying and treating anxiety disorders are particularly important because these problems often develop during childhood and represent an increased risk for other serious health problems such as depression, substance misuse, and smoking.

Across Canada it is a struggle for children and adults with anxiety disorders to obtain adequate treatment. The Canadian Psychiatric Association has just published Treatment Guidelines for Anxiety Disorders. These Guidelines are timely and comprehensive and will encourage doctors to identify anxiety disorders, which can be associated with a wide variety of physical symptoms. Often these physical symptoms will be treated but the underlying anxiety disorder will go unrecognized. Increased recognition can lead to effective treatment.

Medication treatment is the most widely available treatment for anxiety problems and may be provided by family doctors or psychiatrists. The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI's) such as paroxetine (Paxil), sertraline (Zoloft), citalopram (Celexa), and escitalopram (Cipralex) have been evaluated and found to be helpful with a wide range of anxiety disorders. The serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRI's) such as venlafaxine (Effexor) have also been evaluated and found to be helpful with a wide range of anxiety disorders. Special consideration is necessary when medication treatments are used with children and youth. A form of psychological treatment called cognitive-behavior therapy has been found to be equally effective in treatment of anxiety disorders in children and adults. This treatment focuses on teaching ways of dealing effectively with anxiety.

It will continue to be a challenge for our health care system to provide effective treatment to the large numbers of people in need of care.

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