Trends in generalised anxiety disorders and symptoms in primary care: UK population-based cohort study.

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Generalised anxiety disorder and symptoms are associated with poor physical, emotional and social functioning and frequent primary and acute care visits. We investigated recent temporal trends in anxiety and related mental illness in UK general practice.The aims of this analysis are to examine temporal changes in recording of generalised anxiety in primary care and initial pharmacologic treatments.Annual incidence rates of generalised anxiety diagnoses and symptoms were calculated from 795 UK general practices contributing to The Health Improvement Network (THIN) database between 1998 and 2018. Poisson mixed regression was used to account for age, gender and general practitioner practice. Subsequent pharmacologic treatment was examined.Generalised anxiety recording rates increased in both genders aged 18-24 between 2014 and 2018. For women, the increase was from 17.06 to 23.33/1000 person years at risk (PYAR); for men, 8.59 to 11.65/1000 PYAR. Increases persisted for a composite of anxiety and depression (49.74 to 57.81/1000 PYAR for women; 25.41 to 31.45/1000 PYAR for men). Smaller increases in anxiety were seen in both genders age 25-34 and 35-44. Anxiety rates among older patients remained stable, although a composite of anxiety and depression decreased for older women. About half of drug-naïve patients were prescribed anxiety drugs within 1 year following diagnosis. The most common choice was a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor. Benzodiazepine prescription rate has fallen steadily.We observed a substantial increase in general practitioner consulting for generalised anxiety and depression recently, concentrated within younger people and in particular women.

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