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Anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive, and Related Disorders 

Anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive, and Related Disorders
Anxiety, Obsessive-Compulsive, and Related Disorders

Bruce Rohrs

, Benjamen Gangewere

, Alicia Kaplan

, and Amit Chopra

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date: 31 July 2021

Despite its common comorbidity, sleep disturbance is often underrecognized and undertreated in individuals with anxiety disorders. Compared to mood disorders, sleep disturbance in this population is less well studied except for panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. Some evidence suggests a bidirectional link between anxiety disorders and sleep disturbance. Polysomnography findings point to some commonalities across anxiety disorders, including longer sleep onset latency, reduced total sleep time, and reduced sleep efficiency. The underlying biological mechanisms linking anxiety disorders and sleep disturbance are still unclear. However, there is limited evidence suggesting a connection between impaired executive functioning due to sleep problems and failure to inhibit anxiety related thoughts and feelings. Cortisol irregularities and disruption in the serotonergic system may also play a role. Evidence suggests that anxiety sensitivity is a transdiagnostic factor that contributes to both anxiety disorders and sleep disturbance. Further research is warranted to elucidate common biological and psychological factors underlying sleep disturbances and anxiety disorders. There is an imminent need to systematically assess the impact of sleep disturbance on symptom severity and treatment outcomes in anxiety, obsessive-compulsive, and related disorders. Limited evidence is available for medications and targeted psychotherapeutic interventions for management of sleep disturbance thus warranting the development of robust sleep interventions to achieve optimal clinical outcomes in this patient population.

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