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Update on Anxiety Disorders

James C. Ballenger, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1991;151(5):857-859. doi:10.1001/archinte.1991.00400050011003.
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Certainly the article by Brown and colleagues1 in this issue of the Archives, which updates the recent progress in the anxiety disorders field, could not be more timely. Recent publication of the large Epidemiologic Catchment Area study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health startled clinical psychiatrists when it documented that, in fact, anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric disorders, surpassing even the depressive and substance abuse disorders in prevalence. The National Institute of Mental Health study was conducted in five cities in the United States and employed direct interview measures of over 18 000 subjects, making it the largest and most accurate epidemiologic study of psychiatric disorders to date. As documented by this study, 19.5% of Americans experience a serious psychiatric disorder in any 6-month period, with the anxiety disorders affecting 8.9%.2 Lifetime prevalences are even more striking. About one third of the public (32.7%)


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