- To test if you have anxiety, there are many short questionnaires and personal self-assessments that doctors use to screen symptoms.
- For example, the Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale (GAD-7) can help test for anxiety disorders – read on to take this short quiz in our article.
- However, to actually diagnose anxiety disorders, you’ll need to visit a doctor, where they can ask about your medical history and perform further physical tests.
- This article was medically reviewed by David A. Merrill, MD, PhD, psychiatrist and director of the Pacific Brain Health Centre at Pacific Neuroscience Institute at Providence Saint John’s Health Centre.
- This story is part of Insider’s guide on Anxiety.
Many of us experience anxiety at one time or another about our finances, health, or jobs.
But if you feel anxious most of the time, and it’s interfering with your daily activities, you may have an anxiety disorder. Nearly one-third of adults will experience an anxiety disorder during their lifetime.
“People with anxiety disorders feel worry and fear constantly, and these feelings can severely impact their daily life, social, and occupational functioning,” says Nadia Mishael, PsyD, a clinical psychologist and social worker based in Los Angeles.
Some anxiety disorders have clear triggers, such as specific phobias or social anxiety disorder. Others, like generalized anxiety disorder(GAD), can be brought on by a combination of life circumstances, and this excessive worry must last for at least six months.
Keep in mind that only a doctor will be able to truly diagnose an anxiety disorder, as physical tests and knowledge of your medical history are necessary.
This anxiety test is based on a medically-approved questionnaire
The Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale (GAD-7) is a short seven-question assessment that many doctors use to screen for anxiety. According to Mishael, the GAD-7 is “brief, easy to administer, and research has shown it to be effective and accurate.”
Here’s a brief screening test, based on the GAD-7, to gauge your symptoms:
Remember that excessive worry must be present for at least six months to diagnose GAD. This test simply screens your symptoms over the last two weeks. A doctor will use this questionnaire, along with further information about your medical history, to make a formal diagnosis.
Anxiety disorders can also be caused by an underlying medical condition, and your doctor may choose to perform a physical exam and administer other tests.
For example, you may be given a blood test to rule out a hyperactive thyroid, which could cause similar symptoms. Other possible physical health issues include vitamin deficiencies, cardiovascular diseases, or respiratory illnesses.
How recognise the signs of anxiety
The main symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, along with other anxiety disorders, include the following:
- Being restless and on edge
- Easily feeling fatigued
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty sleeping
Some anxiety disorders may have different symptoms, brought on by different worries or fears. In addition to generalized anxiety disorder, there are six other types of anxiety disorders:
- Specific phobia involves intense fear of heights, blood, needles, spiders, or other certain objects or scenarios.
- Social phobia or social anxiety disorder is the general intense fear of social situations or performances, such as giving a speech.
- Selective mutism is when someone normally capable of speech cannot speak in certain situations or to specific people. It often occurs with social phobia.
- Separation anxiety is the excessive fear or worry of being away from your home, loved ones, or someone that you feel attached to.
- Agoraphobia is the fear of being outside the home alone, such as in open spaces like a park, enclosed spaces like a crowded supermarket, or using public transportation.
- Panic disorder is characterised by anticipatory fear of recurrent panic attacks, which can lead to the avoidance of situations where a panic attack is feared.
If you think you may have an anxiety disorder, you should seek the help of a mental health professional. Our colleagues at Insider Reviews have compiled a list of the best online therapy providers to start with.
What to do if you have anxiety
About 40 million people in the US have an anxiety disorder. “People should know they are not alone,” Mishael says. “It is very common and treatable.”
Treatment often includes a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), lifestyle changes to calm your anxiety, and medication to give quick, short-term relief.
To learn more about how to deal with anxiety, talk with your doctor to determine the best option for you.
Related articles from Health Reference:
- How to deal with anxiety and improve your mental health
- The difference between a panic attack and an anxiety attack
- Am I depressed? Take our quiz to gauge your symptoms and find the right treatment
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