Differential Diagnosis

Many medical conditions may cause or mimic depression. Physical disorders that have been associated with depression include Addison's disease, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), coronary artery disease (especially in those with myocardial infarction), cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, anemia, diabetes, acute infection, temporal arteritis, hypothyroidism, and especially dementias. It is imperative that the physician complete a neurologic evaluation to rule out an underlying disorder as the cause of the patient's depression. In addition, many medications may worsen depression, especially cardiovascular drugs, hormones, typical antipsy-chotic agents, anti-inflammatory agents, and anticonvulsants.

Anxiety disorders may be caused or exacerbated by medical conditions, medications taken for other psychiatric or medical disorders, and other substances with stimulant properties. For example, hyperthyroidism can mimic or exacerbate anxiety disorders, and therefore thyroid function should be carefully evaluated when patients present with anxiety symptoms. In addition, lifetime risk of thyroid dysfunction appears higher in patients with panic disorder or GAD (Simon et al., 2002). Physicians should also assess the patient's use of other medications, especially stimulants (whether prescribed or obtained from other sources), nicotine, illicit drugs, and caffeine.

Free Yourself from Panic Attacks

Free Yourself from Panic Attacks

With all the stresses and strains of modern living, panic attacks are become a common problem for many people. Panic attacks occur when the pressure we are living under starts to creep up and overwhelm us. Often it's a result of running on the treadmill of life and forgetting to watch the signs and symptoms of the effects of excessive stress on our bodies. Thankfully panic attacks are very treatable. Often it is just a matter of learning to recognize the symptoms and learn simple but effective techniques that help you release yourself from the crippling effects a panic attack can bring.

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