Background: Anxiety and related disorders are among the most common mental disorders, with lifetime prevalence reportedly as high as 31%. Unfortunately, anxiety disorders are under-diagnosed and under-treated.
Methods: These guidelines were developed by Canadian experts in anxiety and related disorders through a consensus process. Data on the epidemiology, diagnosis, and treatment (psychological and pharmacological) were obtained through MEDLINE, PsycINFO, and manual searches (1980-2012). Treatment strategies were rated on strength of evidence, and a clinical recommendation for each intervention was made, based on global impression of efficacy, effectiveness, and side effects, using a modified version of the periodic health examination guidelines.
Results: These guidelines are presented in 10 sections, including an introduction, principles of diagnosis and management, six sections (Sections 3 through 8) on the specific anxiety-related disorders (panic disorder, agoraphobia, specific phobia, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder), and two additional sections on special populations (children/adolescents, pregnant/lactating women, and the elderly) and clinical issues in patients with comorbid conditions.
Conclusions: Anxiety and related disorders are very common in clinical practice, and frequently comorbid with other psychiatric and medical conditions. Optimal management requires a good understanding of the efficacy and side effect profiles of pharmacological and psychological treatments.