Question: What is the impact of an anxiety disorder on one's family and friends?
Answer: An anxiety disorder can affect one's family and friends in a number of ways. Specifically, the symptoms that one may experience during an anxiety disorder, which can include symptoms like irritability, tension, poor concentration, lack of sleep -- these can obviously affect one's interpersonal relationships with family members or one's ability to do one's work effectively.
That leads to number two, which is really function. In an anxiety disorder, function can be impaired through poor concentration, difficulty interacting with others.
In a panic disorder, a patient -- typically things are avoided because they may tend to trigger a panic attack. So I have patients for example, who fear driving and really have circumscribed their ability to interact socially in such a way that their family and their friends and coworkers are affected, as they are.
Thirdly, and importantly, anxiety disorders are often comorbid or co-occurring with other serious psychiatric disorders, particularly common, depression and substance abuse. So when one has an anxiety disorder, one is at a tremendously increased risk of having one of those other two disorders which obviously have a serious impact on relationships and functioning.