Fast Five Quiz: Are You Prepared to Treat Patients With Illness Anxiety Disorder?

Stephen Soreff, MD


May 01, 2018

Patients with illness anxiety disorder have a high rate of psychiatric comorbidity. In one general medical outpatient clinic, 88% of patients with illness anxiety disorder had one or more concurrent psychiatric disorders, the most common being generalized anxiety disorder (71%), dysthymic disorder (45.2%), major depression (42.9%), somatization disorder (21.4%), and panic disorder (16.7%). These patients are three times more likely to have a personality disorder than the general population.

Illness anxiety disorder is usually episodic and time limited, with symptoms that last from months to years and equally long quiescent periods.

Epidemiologic studies are few, but patients with illness anxiety disorder appear to have no differences in age or sex than patients without this disorder. Several studies have found patients with illness anxiety disorder to have decreased educational and income levels and higher rates of childhood illness and abuse. A knowledge of biology can help patients comprehend the manifestations of medical illnesses.

While the formulation of obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders has been adopted by the DSM-5, this new clustering does not include illness anxiety disorder. It does include: obsessive-compulsive disorder, body dysmorphic disorder, hoarding disorder, trichotillomania, excoriation disorder, and other related disorders that are substance-induced or due to another medical condition.

For more on the background of illness anxiety disorder, read here.


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