Hi. It’s Jenny at AnxietyBoss.com. Our question today comes to us from Danielle in Tallahassee. How is an anxiety disorder diagnosed?
A diagnostic interview is done by a mental health professional who’s experienced in the treatment of anxiety. The interview will typically take about 90 minutes and it’s done in an office setting one to one with the professional. This will typically consist of questions about your personal history, current living arrangements, medical history, legal history, current mental status, use of illicit drugs or alcohol, and when the anxiety symptoms started. Also how severe they are, what makes the symptoms better or worse, and any major changes in your life such as a divorce or a death in the family.
Some therapists may use a paper and pencil test to inquire about your anxiety symptoms or they may ask the patient to rate their anxiety on a 1 to 5 or 1 to 10 scale. Your responses are then noted to see if they match with the diagnostic criteria for one of the types of anxiety disorders.
These are based on a standard reference manual called the DSM5, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, 5th Edition. The mental health professional will also use their professional judgment and experience and possibly consult with their peers to determine a diagnosis. A proper diagnosis will determine proper treatment.
It’s important to be honest and forthcoming about your symptoms. Many people do find it hard to talk about their anxiety symptoms, but if you withhold or you minimize the details of what you’re experiencing, you may not get correct treatment. A physical exam by a physician should be done to rule out physical causes for anxiety symptoms such as problems with thyroid levels or the heart.
Last but not least, you can also visit AnxietyBoss.com. You can take the anxiety test and find out your anxiety level. While it’s not an actual diagnosis for anxiety; however, it will still give you a pretty good idea about your anxiety levels and what you can do about it.