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Anxiety, personality disorders can interfere with work

Living with anxiety or a personality disorder can be difficult. For those afflicted by such a condition, the symptoms can interfere with a person's ability to function normally and perform work duties. In the case of Generalized Anxiety Disorder, for example, symptoms may include excessive and uncontrollable worry about everyday things, anticipating disaster, irritability, and being overly concerned about everyday issues, such as health, money, and relationships.

The Board of Trustees of the American Psychiatric Association recently met to discuss alternative diagnostic systems for personality disorders. Although there are 10 recognized personality syndromes, such disorders can be difficult to diagnose, due in part to broad definitions. For example, it can be easy to misdiagnose symptoms as general anxiety or depression.

Yet more research may be needed before diagnostic screenings for personality and anxiety disorders can be developed. Both types of disorders have a number of root causes and can present serious symptoms. Both conditions can also be exacerbated by anger. Some researchers suspect that anger may also interfere with treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy.

According to the results of a recent study, higher levels of anger in patients with Generalized Anxiety Disorder were associated with worry and anxiety, both of which increased the severity of their GAD symptoms. The study thus suggests that there may be a link between anger and anxiety, particularly in the case of those who suffer from GAD. One possible explanation for the link is what the study's author calls a biased thought process. For example, when it is unclear whether a situation is good or bad, both anxiety patients and easily angered individuals may both assume the worst. Understanding the link between anger and anxiety might thus help doctors design more effective treatments for anxiety patients.

In order to be granted Social Security disability benefits, an anxiety or personality disorder must affect a person to the point that he or she would not be able to do any kind of work. Medical treatment, especially from a psychologist or psychiatrist, is also required in most cases. An attorney will be able to advise anxiety patients and their health care providers of the specific medical documentation needed to prove eligibility for SSDI benefits.

Source: New York Times, "Thinking Clearly About Personality Disorders," Benedict Carey, Nov. 26, 2012

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