risks

What Happens When Anxiety Goes Untreated

Eileen Bailey Health Guide July 05, 2008
  • Treatment is available for anxiety disorders. This may include therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and medication. Treatment is effective in reducing the symptoms of anxiety and helping people to live normal, productive lives.

     

    Too often, however, people with anxiety do not receive the treatment that can help them. The ADAA estimates that only one third of people with anxiety disorders receive proper treatment. Although there are a number of reasons why they do not get treatment, the impact of anxiety going untreated can be disastrous.

     

    Physical Illnesses

     

    In one study, patients with untreated anxiety were found to have "reduced functioning" in physical health, even to the level of patients with chronic illnesses, such as congestive heart failure or diabetes.

     

    Often anxiety disorders will cause physical symptoms, such as fatigue or body aches and pains. These symptoms frequently cause people to lose time from work, visit the doctor more often or seek medical treatment at the Emergency Room.

     

    Relationships

     

    People with untreated anxiety can have problems in their relationships. They may feel misunderstood or become irritable. Some people find it difficult to maintain relationships and are often worried about the relationship, causing further strain. Social isolation can also be a result of untreated anxiety.

     

    Coexisting Conditions

     

    Untreated anxiety can lead to other mental disorders, such as depression or substance abuse. People with anxiety, especially when not properly treated, have a higher risk of suicide or self-harm behaviors.

     

    Career

     

    People with untreated anxiety may lead a life of isolation. They may use avoidance strategies for fear of an anxiety or panic attack. They may stop going to work or their work performance may severely suffer.

     

    Treatment is available for anxiety and is very effective in reducing symptoms. Most people receiving proper treatment are able to live normal lives. If you feel you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety, please talk with your physician.

     

    Sources:

    Untreated anxiety among adult primary care patients in a Health Maintenance Organization, 1994, Fifer et al, Arch General Psychiatry

    Anxiety Disorders: The Role of Psychotherapy in Effective Treatment, 2004, American Psychological Association

    Anxiety Disorders, 2007, Better Health Channel, State of Victoria, Australia