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What is Substance/Medication-Induced Anxiety Disorder?

Substance/medication-induced anxiety disorder can affect individuals during or after ingesting a number of different drugs or substances. These can include:

  • Alcohol
  • Amphetamine (or another stimulant)
  • Caffeine
  • Cannabis
  • Cocaine
  • Inhalants
  • Opioids
  • Phencyclidine (PCP)
  • Sedative, hypnotic or anxiolytic drugs
  • Or other unknown substance

A diagnosis of substance/medication-induced anxiety is when an individual suffers from panic attacks or anxiety soon after substance intoxication or withdrawal, or after taking a medication. Moreover, panic attacks or anxiety cannot be attributed to another anxiety disorder apart from the substance or medication use.

What is Selective Mutism?

Selective mutism is a type of anxiety disorder that is diagnosed when an individual is afraid to speak in specific social situations where there is an expectation for speaking, such as at school or work, despite speaking in other situations.

  • The anxiety interferes with educational or occupational performance and lasts at least 1 month.
  • The failure to speak is not explained by a lack of knowledge of, or comfort with, the spoken language required in the social situation.
  • The failure to speak is not better explained by a communication disorder and does not occur exclusively with autism spectrum disorder, schizophrenia, or another psychotic disorder.

What is a Phobia-based Anxiety Disorder?

An anxiety disorder diagnosed because of a specific phobia is based on an individual’s marked fear or anxiety about a specific object or situation. Examples include flying in planes, heights, animals, receiving an injection, or seeing blood. In children, the fear or anxiety may be expressed by crying, tantrums, freezing, or clinging behavior. The diagnosis requires that:

  • The fear, anxiety, or avoidance lasts for 6 months or more. The phobic object or situation almost always provokes immediate fear or anxiety.
  • The phobic object or situation is actively avoided or endures with intense fear or anxiety.
  • The fear or anxiety is out of proportion to the actual danger posed by the specific object or situation.
  • The fear, anxiety, or avoidance causes significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
  • The anxiety is not better explained by the symptoms of another mental disorder, including panic disorder, agoraphobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder, separation anxiety disorder, or social anxiety disorder

What is the diagnosis for an Anxiety Disorder due to Another Medical Condition?

A diagnosis for anxiety disorder due to another medical condition can be made when:

  • An individual suffers largely from panic attacks or anxiety.
  • There is evidence from the individual’s history, physical examination, or laboratory findings that the anxiety is caused by another medical condition.
  • The anxiety causes significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
  • The anxiety is not better explained by another mental disorder.
  • The anxiety or panic attacks do not occur exclusively during episodes of delirium.

When is a diagnosis for Unspecified Anxiety Disorder given?

A diagnosis for unspecific anxiety disorder applies to situations in which anxiety symptoms do not meet the full criteria for any of the established anxiety disorders. The anxiety symptoms still cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. The clinician, however, lacks information to categorize the anxiety into one the specific anxiety disorders. This may occur in emergency room situations.

Does a diagnosis of Anxiety Disorder require all the symptoms of a specific disorder?

No. Sometimes, individuals may be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, even though their symptoms do not meet the normal diagnostic guidelines. This can happen with:

  • Anxiety attacks with limited symptoms
  • Generalized anxiety not occurring more days than not
  • Fears related to a specific cultural belief system
  • Ataque de nervios (“attack of nerves”) ¬– a syndrome among individuals of Latino descent characterized by intense emotional upset and a sense of being out of control, often occurring in response to a stressful family event
    In such cases, the clinician will diagnose the condition as “Other Specified Anxiety Disorder.”

Mental Health Library Sources:

Information included in all topics of the Mental Health Library comes from the Desk Reference to the Diagnostic Criteria From DSM-5 and Kaplan & Sadock’s Concise Textbook of Clinical Psychiatry. Complete diagnostic and treatment information may be found within these publications.


Information within the Mental Health Library is not intended to be used for self-diagnosis purposes. Rather, it is provided as a public educational service to make people aware of mental health conditions. Please consult a qualified mental health professional for a diagnosis of any suspected mental health illness.

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