A diagnosis of anxiety often relies heavily on a patient’s description of the symptoms he or she is experiencing.
Criteria for diagnosing anxiety disorders are listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), the manual that mental health professionals use when diagnosing mental disorders.
Criteria for diagnosing generalized anxiety disorder, according to the DSM-IV, include:
- Excessive anxiety and worry more days than not—for at least six months—about a number of events.
- Difficulty controlling the worry.
- Anxiety is associated with three of the
following six symptoms:
- being easily fatigued
- muscle tension
- sleep disturbance
- difficulty concentrating
- The symptoms cause significant distress in social, occupational, or other important parts of life.
- Anxiety is not caused by direct psychological effects of medications or medical conditions.
A review of medical history is often common to rule out any outside causes of your anxiety, including medications and other possible triggers.
A physical examination may be ordered to determine if anxiety is a symptom of some other condition, such as a vitamin B12 deficiency, hyperthyroidism, or another condition.