How are acute, severe, and chronic anxiety managed differently in the emergency department (ED)?

Updated: Mar 27, 2019
  • Author: Nita V Bhatt, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: David Bienenfeld, MD  more...
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Answer

In the best of circumstances, a calm environment and social support from family, friends, and the emergency staff are ideal. For patients with more severe anxiety, a short course of a fast-acting anxiolytic agent is recommended. Chronic anxiety requires a comprehensive approach; the best pharmacotherapy varies for each individual, and outpatient follow-up with a psychiatrist is recommended. However, these patients can be discharged on a short course of benzodiazepines until they see a psychiatrist. Patients who express suicidal or homicidal thoughts should have an emergent psychiatric evaluation in the ED.


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