The researchers believe that such new clues to anxiety and depression can contribute to an improved diagnostic profile that will help family physicians identify patients most at risk for anxiety and depression and help those patients receive appropriate care. The results were published in the May/June issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Practice.
"Primary care physicians see a wide range of patients, from those needing routine health check ups to those with chronic disease and disabilities," said lead author Lawrence Wu, M.D. "We know the traditional symptoms of anxiety and depression -- crying, fatigue, feelings of hopelessness -- but not all patients exhibit these symptoms or report them to their family practitioner. Also, some symptoms such as fatigue can be a symptom of depression or heart disease, so it can be difficult to isolate symptoms and reach a definitive diagnosis."
Identifying and treating anxiety and depression are important because they can adversely impact patients' health and quality of life, Wu emphasized. For example, he said some studies show that depression worsens outcomes in cardiac patients. Also, diabetic patients who have been treated for anxiety and depression seem to be able to control their disease better. However, the Duke researchers said that their study did not find any evidence that specific medical diagnoses are independent markers for anxiety and depression.
"We wanted to see whether there are physical symptoms in addition to the emotional symptoms that all patients with anxiety and depression report," said Wu. "Then we can begin to identify patients that
Contact: Amy Austell
Duke University Medical Center