The Burden of Anxiety Disorders on the Family

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It is well established that individuals with anxiety disorders experience significant impairments in social and occupational functioning. However, the impact of anxiety disorders on family members has not been adequately studied. The objective of the present study was to examine the burden experienced by relatives of anxiety disorder patients. In all, 74 outpatients and 74 family members participated in the study. Family members completed measures that assessed the impact of having an anxiety disordered relative. Results indicate that family members experience significant burden. The burden encompasses several domains including negative effects on physical health, psychological well-being, and family functioning. Burden was positively correlated with the severity of the patient's condition. The presence of a comorbid mood disorder in patients was associated with increased burden. Health-care professionals should assess the impact of anxiety disorders on the patient's family and provide interventions to reduce burden and improve the quality of life of family members.

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