Drugs and Medical Conditions Contributing to Inaccurate Evaluation of Anxiety Disorders

Read about the drugs and medical conditions that could lead to an inaccurate evaluation of anxiety because they mimic the symptoms of anxiety.Though people experiencing anxiety sometimes prefer to attribute their symptoms to physical conditions, there are real medical conditions that may cause what looks like anxiety. These must always be ruled out. Drugs like amphetamines and cocaine, caffeine and alcohol may all precipitate anxiety attacks. Numerous medical conditions mimic many of the symptoms of anxiety, and some disorders in particular must be ruled out:

  • coronary conditions are frequently accompanied by dread and apprehension
  • hyperthyroidism
  • systemic lupus
  • erythematosus
  • anemia
  • as well as respiratory conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and pneumonia

can all result in symptoms that can be confused with anxiety.

There are also many medications, both prescription and over-the counter, that can precipitate anxiety. Your nutrition should also be considered. Look carefully at the amount of caffeine in coffee, soda, diet soda, chocolate and some aspirin preparations (e.g., Excedrin ®) likely to be circulating in your system. precipitate or exaggerate anxiety. Even small amounts of caffeine in some at-risk individuals can precipitate or exaggerate anxiety.


  • Kathryn J. Zerbe, M.D., Psychiatric Education and Women's Mental Health, The Menninger Clinic

For more information on anxiety disorders, as well as other psychiatric disorders, Dr. Zerbe has written Women's Mental Health in Primary Care, which is available at bookstores and on the Web. The book contains guidelines to help you overcome anxiety and depression and refers you to other sources of information that can help.

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APA Reference
Tracy, N. (2007, February 18). Drugs and Medical Conditions Contributing to Inaccurate Evaluation of Anxiety Disorders, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 21 from

Last Updated: July 4, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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