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Anxiety and Mood Disorders

Anxiety, depression and other disorders of mood are among the most common medical conditions. In any given year, more than 10% of the population can be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or mood disorder. In fact, only a small percentage of people are treated, and even people who are appropriately diagnosed tend to be undertreated.

Anxiety is not a unitary condition. There are at least six separate and distinct anxiety disorders: generalized anxiety, separation anxiety, social anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and panic disorder, with or without agoraphobia. There are also many "simple phobias" in which anxiety is focused around a particular thing.

Mood disorders include different kinds of depression and bipolar disorder. Patients with road rage or explosive anger usually have a mood disorder. Mood disorders are not uncommon in adolescents. Depression sometimes arises when someone is quite young. We have had patients who said they couldn't remember when they weren't depressed, ever in their lives. We have also seen children in our clinics who were so depressed they were actually hallucinating.

In other patients, depression doesn't arise until late middle age. In such cases, it is sometimes the harbinger of an occult medical or neurological condition. Patients with stroke or brain injury are prone to particularly troublesome forms of depression. They can be particularly difficult to treat if you don't have the appropriate level of experience.