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How To Get An Anxiety Diagnosis

Set Up An Evaluation With A Mental Health Professional

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Only mental health professionals are legally qualified to provide you with an official anxiety diagnosis. No matter how much you learn about anxiety disorders and your symptoms, you need to set up an evaluation with a mental health professional to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

To evaluate you for an anxiety disorder, a mental health professional will ask you about your symptoms. This is where the record youve been keeping of your symptoms can be tremendously beneficial some questions are hard to answer, and your record can help you remember exactly how youve been feeling.

The mental health professional will compare the symptoms you report to the clinical diagnostic criteria for an anxiety disorder. They might also ask you to complete a measurement tool or scale, like the Beck Anxiety Inventory. These measures can help providers get a more objective view of your symptoms.

Its important to note that the mental health professional wont only be evaluating you for an anxiety disorder. You may have assumed that youre suffering from generalized anxiety disorder, but it could be that youre actually dealing with another mental health condition, like obsessive-compulsive disorder, for example. Your mental health professional will be able to differentiate between anxiety and other mental health conditions and give you an accurate diagnosis.

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What Is A Panic Disorder

If you have a panic disorder, you get intense, sudden panic attacks. These attacks often feature stronger, more intense feelings than other types of anxiety disorders.

The feelings of terror may start suddenly and unexpectedly or they may come from a trigger, like facing a situation you dread. Panic attacks can resemble heart attacks. If theres any chance youre experiencing a heart attack, go to the emergency room. Its better to err on the side of caution and have a healthcare professional check you.

During a panic attack, you may experience:

  • Sweating.
  • Chest pain.
  • Feeling of choking, which can make you think youre having a heart attack or going crazy.

Panic attacks are very upsetting. People with panic disorder often spend a lot of time worrying about the next panic attack. They also try to avoid situations that might trigger an attack.

Talking To Your Gp About Anxiety

Your GP may ask you questions about:

  • any physical or psychological symptoms and how long you have had them for
  • your worries, fears and emotions
  • your personal life

You may find it difficult to talk about your feelings, emotions and personal life.

But it’s important that your GP understands your symptoms and circumstances so the correct diagnosis can be made.

You’re most likely to be diagnosed with GAD if you have had symptoms for 6 months or more.

Finding it difficult to manage your feelings of anxiety is also an indication that you may have the condition.

To help with the diagnosis, your GP may carry out a physical examination or blood tests to rule out other conditions that may be causing your symptoms, such as:

  • anaemia

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Anxiety Diagnosis: How Does Anxiety Get Diagnosed

Medically reviewed by

Its normal to occasionally experience feelings of anxiety or fear. However, if you have severe or persistent anxiety or excessive anxiety that interferes with your daily life and doesnt go away on its own, you may be affected by an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders are a common form of mental illness, with 40 million adults affected every year.

Common anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder , social anxiety disorder, panic disorder and specific phobias, such as anxiety related to heights, flying or spiders.

If youre concerned that you might have an anxiety disorder, its important to talk to a healthcare professional and get an accurate diagnosis.

Below, weve explained how mental health professionals diagnose people with anxiety disorders, common symptoms and other criteria.

Weve also discussed what you should know before you visit a healthcare provider for help with anxiety or other common mental disorders.

Who Is At Risk For Anxiety Disorders

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A mix of genetic and environmental factors can raise a persons risk for developing anxiety disorders. You may be at higher risk if you have or had:

  • Certain personality traits, such as shyness or behavioral inhibition feeling uncomfortable with, and avoiding, unfamiliar people, situations or environments.
  • Stressful or traumatic events in early childhood or adulthood.
  • Family history of anxiety or other mental health conditions.
  • Certain physical conditions, including thyroid problems and heart arrhythmias .

Anxiety disorders occur more often in women. Researchers are still studying why that happens. It may come from womens hormones, especially those that fluctuate throughout the month. The hormone testosterone may play a role, too men have more, and it may ease anxiety. Its also possible that women are less likely to seek treatment, so the anxiety worsens.

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How To Get An Anxiety Diagnosis

Everybody feels anxious and worried sometimes its part of being human. But when do these feelings cross the line into being a clinically diagnosable mental health concern? How can you tell whether your worries are normal or whether you meet the criteria for an anxiety diagnosis?

Getting an accurate anxiety diagnosis is the first step to working toward recovery if anxiety is what youre dealing with. Here is every step you need to take to get an initial anxiety diagnosis, and how to move forward after you get one.

What Is An Anxiety Disorder

We all feel anxious from time to time, but anxiety disorders are more than a temporary bout of worry or fear. An anxiety disorder is characterized by persistent, overwhelming feelings of anxiety, worry, or fear that are intense enough to interfere with an individuals day-to-day life. People with an anxiety disorder experience stress that is out of proportion to the thing they are worrying about and are unable to put these negative thoughts aside. They may feel constantly tense and on-edge, even if they arent certain what exactly they are anxious about.

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Heart Attack Chest Pain

So what are heart attack symptoms?

A heart attack is when the blood flow or blood supply that feeds the heart itself is blocked. Heart attack symptoms include :

  • Chest pain that continues to get worse with exertion
  • Chest pain that radiates to your arms or jaw
  • Heavy pressure in the chest area and a squeezing sensation
  • Fast heart rate and shortness of breath
  • Nausea

Some people feel exhausted or say they have back pain, and close to 30% of people having a heart attack dont even report chest pain .

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Signs And Symptoms Of Anxiety Disorders

How Do Doctors Diagnose Anxiety?

In addition to the primary symptom of excessive and irrational fear and worry, other common emotional symptoms include:

  • Feelings of apprehension or dread.
  • Watching for signs of danger.
  • Anticipating the worst.
  • Irritability.
  • Feeling like your minds gone blank.

But anxiety is more than just a feeling. As a product of the bodys fight-or-flight response, it also involves a wide range of physical symptoms, including:

  • Pounding heart.
  • Shaking or trembling.
  • Insomnia.

Because of these physical symptoms, anxiety sufferers often mistake their disorder for a medical illness. They may visit many doctors and make numerous trips to the hospital before their anxiety disorder is finally recognized.

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Chest Pain And Panic Disorder

This review extends the results from a systematic review previously reported.16 Briefly, potential studies were identified via a computerized search of MEDLINE and PsycINFO databases and review of bibliographies. MeSH headings used included panic disorder with chest pain, panic disorder with coronary disease or cardiovascular disorders or heart disorders, and panic disorder with cholesterol or essential hypertension or tobacco smoking. The diagnosis of panic disorder in eligible studies was based on DSM criteria, and studies must have used objective criteria for coronary artery disease and risk factors. Only case-control and cohort studies were included. Using the same search and selection strategies, new studies were sought.

How To Reduce Anxiety Symptoms

In addition to specialist anxiety treatment, there are a number of practical things you can do yourself, to try and reduce your anxiety symptoms:

  • Make sure you get enough sleep at night and exercise regularly
  • Avoid smoking
  • Try to limit your intake of caffeine and alcohol
  • Try to avoid rushing, trying to do too much at once or being too competitive
  • Make sure you allow yourself time for relaxation and hobbies
  • Try making a problem list of all of your worries, and then try to tackle each one in turn rather than allowing yourself to become overwhelmed. Ask yourself: whats the worst thing that could happen?

Reaching out for help with your anxiety is absolutely crucial so you can start living your life to the full again. Getting a diagnosis means youll be able to receive evidence-based treatment for your anxiety, helping you to overcome your challenges and take steps towards a positive future.

Get in Touch Today

For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding mental health and wellbeing, please call 0800 840 3219 or . For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here

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Do I Have Social Anxiety Or Am I Just Shy

Social anxiety disorder is a chronic mental health condition in which social interactions cause irrational anxiety. Social anxiety is more than just feeling shy. People with social anxiety have an intense fear of situations where they could be watched, judged, embarrassed, or rejected by others. The symptoms are so extreme that they interfere with the persons daily routine and prevent them from taking part in ordinary activities.

Government Of Canada’s Role

Jobs For People With Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The Government of Canada is working to help Canadians improve and maintain their mental health, including coping with anxiety disorders. Within its jurisdiction, the Government of Canada works to:

  • Support Canada’s researchers in finding ways to prevent and treat mental illnesses and disorders.
  • Strengthen the capacity of the primary health care, home care and acute care sectors to effectively deliver mental health programs and services.
  • Work in collaboration with other governments and non-governmental organizations to improve the mental health of Canadians.
  • Provide high quality, reliable information to the public.
  • Report on health trends in the population.

In 2007, the federal government provided funding to establish and support the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Among other goals, the Commission leads in the development of a national mental health strategy and works to reduce the stigma about mental illness.

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How Are Anxiety Disorders Diagnosed

If you have symptoms of an anxiety disorder, talk to your healthcare provider. Theyll start with a complete medical history and physical examination.

There are no lab tests or scans that can diagnose anxiety disorders. But your provider may run some of these tests to rule out physical conditions that may be causing symptoms.

What Is Separation Anxiety Disorder

This condition mostly happens to children or teens, who may worry about being away from their parents. Children with separation anxiety disorder may fear that their parents will be hurt in some way or not come back as promised. It happens a lot in preschoolers. But older children and adults who experience a stressful event may have separation anxiety disorder as well.

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What Is An Anxiety Attack

Anxiety attacks, also known as panic attacks, are episodes of intense panic or fear. They usually occur suddenly and without warning. Sometimes theres an obvious triggergetting stuck in an elevator, for example, or thinking about the big speech you have to givebut in other cases, the attacks come out of the blue.

Anxiety attacks usually peak within 10 minutes, and they rarely last more than 30 minutes. But during that short time, you may experience terror so severe that you feel as if youre about to die or totally lose control. The physical symptoms are themselves so frightening that many people think theyre having a heart attack. After an anxiety attack is over, you may worry about having another one, particularly in a public place where help isnt available or you cant easily escape.

Avoid Smoking And Drinking

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Smoking and alcohol have been shown to make feelings of anxiety worse. Only drinking alcohol in moderation or stopping smoking if you smoke may help reduce your anxiety.

The Department of Health recommends that men should not drink more than three to four units of alcohol a day and women no more than two to three units.

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How Does Medication Treat Anxiety Disorders

Medications cant cure an anxiety disorder. But they can improve symptoms and help you function better. Medications for anxiety disorders often include:

  • Anti-anxiety medications, such as benzodiazepines, may decrease your anxiety, panic and worry. They work quickly, but you can build up a tolerance to them. That makes them less effective over time. Your healthcare provider may prescribe an anti-anxiety medication for the short-term, then taper you off or the provider may add an antidepressant to the mix.
  • Antidepressants can also help with anxiety disorders. They tweak how your brain uses certain chemicals to improve mood and reduce stress. Antidepressants may take some time to work, so be patient. If you feel like youre ready to stop taking antidepressants, talk to your provider first.
  • Beta-blockers, usually used for high blood pressure, can help reduce some of the physical symptoms of anxiety disorders. They can relieve rapid heartbeat, shaking and trembling.

Your healthcare provider will work with you to find the right medication combination and dosage. Dont change the dose without consulting your provider. Theyll monitor you to make sure the medicines are working without causing negative side effects.

How Gad Is Treated

GAD can have a significant effect on your daily life, but several different treatments are available that can help ease your symptoms. These include:

  • psychological therapy such as cognitive behavioural therapy
  • medication such as a type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors

There are also many things you can do yourself to help reduce your anxiety, such as going on a self-help course, exercising regularly, stopping smoking and cutting down on the amount of alcohol and caffeine you drink.

With treatment, many people are able to control their levels of anxiety. However, some treatments may need to be continued for a long time and there may be periods where your symptoms worsen.

If these initial treatments do not help, you will usually be offered either a more intensive psychological treatment or medication. These are described below.

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