General anxiety disorder, like that which murder-accused Oscar Pistorius was diagnosed with, is common, the High Court in Pretoria heard on Tuesday.
But for it to be seen as a disorder it would have to affect a person's life, forensic psychiatrist Merryll Vorster said during cross-examination from prosecutor Gerrie Nel.
"Anxiety is a very common phenomenon. The condition [general anxiety disorder] is also a very common disorder," she said.
"To raise it to a level of a disorder, one had to have anxiety more often than not for an expanded period of time."
She said such a person would see situations as being more serious than what they actually were. It would cause sleep disorders, vomiting, diarrhoea, and the inability to concentrate.
The paralympic athlete is charged with murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp. He shot her dead through the locked door of his toilet in his Pretoria home on February 14 last year.
Pistorius has denied guilt, saying he thought she was an intruder about to open the door and attack him. The State contends he shot her during an argument.
When court started Nel indicated that he would go back to what he spoke about on Monday -- a possible application to send Pistorius for mental observation.
"Today we are doing something different, but we will get back to that," Nel said.
He continued to ask Vorster about the diagnosis of general anxiety disorder and if it would impact Pistorius's general functioning. He asked Vorster if it would impair Pistorius's functioning on various levels.
"Yes My Lady that is why it is a disorder," she replied.
"With an anxiety disorder people are unable to set their anxiety aside."
Nel asked about the levels of severity of the disorder.
Vorster said with every disorder there were levels of severity, but it was not obtained in her diagnosis. Nel asked if it was severe enough to be seen as a mental illness.
"I wouldn't say that. If one had a general anxiety disorder that is severe it may impact on your capacity to lead a normal lifestyle," she said.
"One could say it is a mental illness, but you have to look at the impact of that illness on the person."
She said someone might become incapacitated because of all the preparations they had make to function normally, like go to work.
Pistorius was not incapacitated. He was still able to function at a high level as an athlete, and was able to socialise, but had stress, Vorster said.
Nel questioned Vorster on why Pistorius's friends and his former girlfriend Samantha Taylor, who testified for the State, never mentioned that he was anxious.
"Most people control and conceal their anxiety… Mr Pistorius and his family were not aware that he had anxiety disorder."
Steenkamp's mother June Steenkamp was in court on Tuesday. She sat in the front row of the public gallery. On the other side of the front row sat the Pistorius family, including the athlete's older brother Carl, younger sister Aimee, and uncle Arnold.
Pistorius is also charged with three contraventions of the Firearms Control Act -- one of illegal possession of ammunition and two of discharging a firearm in public. He has pleaded not guilty to these charges as well.
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