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Spectrum of Anxiety Disorders: Diagnosis and Pharmacologic Treatment


  • Deborah Brandt Karsnitz CNM, DNP,

  • Sheila Ward CNM, MSN, PMHNP

Address correspondence to Deborah Brandt Karsnitz, CNM, DNP, 2230 Taylor Wood Road, Simpsonville, KY 40205. E-mail:


Nearly 30% of women experience an anxiety disorder at some time during their lives, and there is increasing evidence that anxiety disorders are associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes. Despite increased media coverage regarding anxiety disorders, women are reluctant to discuss signs and symptoms of anxiety with family or health care providers. Additionally, despite ongoing research and improved educational curricula, primary care and women's health care providers find diagnosis and treatment of mental health disorders challenging. This article reviews the diagnostic features and pharmacologic treatment options for the most common anxiety disorders including generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder. The impact of anxiety disorders on pregnancy and guidelines for management are presented.