What is the prevalence of anxiety in the setting of chronic pain?
The exact prevalence of anxiety disorder in chronic pain is unclear, due to a lack of studies specifically looking at this. However, it is widely recognized that it is not uncommon for patients with chronic pain to be anxious and worried. When patients with chronic pain do carry a diagnosis of anxiety disorder, it is rarely the only psychiatric diagnosis; often there is a comorbid depression or dysthymia diagnosis. It is important to note that often the anxiety can be diminished or even eradicated when treatment is directed at the mood disorder.
In patients with chronic pain, it is important not to overlook a potential diagnosis of panic disorder, as this may present with complaints of chronic headache, chronic abdominal pain, and/or chronic chest pain. Panic disorder is more common in females than in men, and usually the onset is before the fourth decade of life. Often these patients have a fear of an undiagnosed life-threatening medical illness, and therefore they often first present in the medicine setting.