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A Journal on Psychiatry, Psychology and Psychopharmacology

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Social Psychiatry
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Minerva Psichiatrica 2009 September;50(3):231-63

language: English

Current understanding of comorbidity in anxiety disorders: an integrative approach

Mazza M., Marano G.

Psychiatry Institute, Sacro Cuore Catholic University, Rome, Italy


Anxiety disorders are associated with high rates of comorbidity with a multitude of psychiatric and medical conditions. Among all the potential comorbidities, co-occurring anxiety disorders stand out due to their very high prevalence. Comorbidity in anxiety disorders presents a challenge as the patient’s symptoms are often more severe, present earlier in lifetime, and are frequently prolonged, which makes their management more complex. Researchers agree that individuals with serious mental disorders tend to have a worse physical health status than people without a mental disorder. Mental or physical conditions that may have an etiological relationship are sometimes characterized as comorbid due to a difficulty in determining the precise time of onset for either one of these conditions. Although it is generally accepted that many physical conditions have been associated with serious mental disorders, the exact nature of the relationship between them is still unclear. While the occurrence of mental disorders in patients suffering from physical conditions can be easily explained (e.g. mental disorders due to a general medical condition or drugs), the understanding of mechanisms involved in the development of increased physical morbidity in psychiatric patients is more complex. Various factors such as unhealthy lifestyle habits, psychotropic medication, and inadequate medical treatment or provision are implicated.

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