December 1, 2015
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Anxiety (cont.)

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How is generalized anxiety disorder diagnosed?

Many health-care professionals may help determine the diagnosis and recommend treatment for individuals with GAD; these include licensed mental-health therapists, family physicians, or other primary-care professionals, specialists whom you see for a medical condition, emergency physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatric nurses, and social workers. If one of these professionals suspects that you have GAD, you will likely undergo an extensive medical interview and physical examination. As part of this examination, you may be asked a series of questions from a standardized questionnaire or self-test to help assess your risk of anxiety. Anxiety may be associated with a number of other medical conditions or can be a side effect of various medications. For this reason, routine laboratory tests are often performed during the initial evaluation to rule out other causes of your symptoms. Occasionally, an X-ray, scan, or other imaging study may be needed. Well-recognized diagnostic criteria for generalized anxiety disorder are as follows:

  • Excessive anxiety and worry that occurs more days than not for at least six months. The worries are either generalized or are about a number of events or activities (such as work, relationships, or school performance).
  • The person finds it difficult to control the worry.
  • The anxiety and worry are associated with three (or more) of the previously described symptoms (with at least some symptoms present for more days than not for the past six months).
  • The focus of the anxiety and worry is not confined to features of other mood or to a thought disorder (such as social phobia, OCD, PTSD, schizophrenia, etc.), nor is it limited to worry about separation as in separation anxiety disorder or of having a panic attack as in panic disorder.
  • The anxiety, worry, or physical symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment an important area of functioning, like work, school, or social activity.
  • The illness is not due to the direct physical effects of a substance (like a drug of abuse or a medication) or a general medical condition (like hyperthyroidism) and does not only occur during a mood disorder, psychotic disorder, or a pervasive developmental disorder.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/5/2014


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