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Anxiety Disorders Reach Tipping Point

Anxiety Disorders Reach Tipping Point

The Phobic Trust of New Zealand says that anxiety disorders are feeding a
huge range of health and social problems and are close to tipping point.

The Trust plans to highlight the extent of these problems and explore
solutions at its fourth international conference in Auckland later this
month (details below), held under the title "Anxiety @ the Core".

"There is mounting evidence that anxiety disorders are amongst the most
significant causes of social ills such as suicide, drug and alcohol abuse,
depression, domestic violence and the break-up of relationships," says the
Trust's Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Marcia Read, QSO.

"Anxiety typically walks hand in hand with other disorders, including
phobias, depression, panic attacks, agoraphobia, obsessive compulsive
disorders or anorexia. Every fourth person is likely to suffer from one of
these conditions in any given year. And for every sufferer, there will be
many others affected, including partners, children, whanau and work

"All too often, these disorders result in lives blighted by poverty, fear,
shame and frustration. There are children who are afraid to go to school and
adults who are too frightened to leave their homes, meet people, speak in
public, travel in lifts, drive on motorways or do many of the things
considered normal in a working environment.

"If anxiety disorders are not treated, they lead to unemployment and welfare
dependency. They can also easily result in alcohol and substance abuse, as a
result of sufferers seeking to self-medicate. Research also shows that more
than 20 percent of serious suicide attempts are made by people with anxiety
disorders," she says.

Marcia Read adds that the normal response has been to treat effects, such as
drug abuse or the suicide rate, rather than the conditions that cause them.
However, she says, health professionals are finally recognising that anxiety
is a major cause of such problems and is normally eminently treatable.

"We are at the tipping point when it comes to treating anxiety disorders.
One result of this may well be a seismic shift in how we deal with mental
illness as a whole. This, in turn, could lead to a significant reduction in
so many of the ills pervading our society. Perhaps that is why our
conference is attracting considerable interest amongst those concerned with
these issues," she says.

"With nearly 25 years of operational experience, The Phobic Trust of New
Zealand is recognised as a world leader in the clinical treatment of
anxiety, phobic and compulsive disorders. This has helped us attract some of
the world's leading authorities as conference speakers. We're looking
forward to some very exciting public sessions.

"It surely makes more sense to identify and deal with anxiety disorders at
an early stage than to be faced with the misery and heartbreak of
undiagnosed illness, let alone the billions of dollars in often invisible
costs this imposes on New Zealand's economy

"There are similarities between the way we deal with anxiety disorders and
the way we used to deal with breast cancer. For years, we knew that it was
at epidemic proportions amongst women. But instead of discussing it openly,
women sneaked-off for treatment and quietly talked to loved ones about the
pain. Now, we talk about breast cancer publicly.

"Anxiety disorder is finally heading in the same direction. The only
differences are that it affects far more people than breast cancer and the
treatment is usually far easier," Marcia Read adds.


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