Anxiety diagnosis

How anxiety is diagnosed and the steps you can take to start addressing this mental health condition.

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This page was medically reviewed by Dr Oluwagbenga Odeyemi (MBBS, MPH, MRCPsych, PGDip. in Clinical Psychiatry), Consultant Psychiatrist at Priory Wellbeing Centre Birmingham in March 2022.

Anxiety can be diagnosed by a medical professional, whether that’s your GP or a mental health specialist. They’ll be able to assess your symptoms and the impact they’re having on your life, and use this information to identify whether you’re suffering with an anxiety disorder.

If you’re struggling with anxiety, opening up to someone about how you’re feeling can be daunting. However, speaking to a qualified professional about what you’re going through means you’ll be one step closer to getting a potential diagnosis for anxiety and starting your journey towards recovery.

A good first port of call when it comes to getting a diagnosis for your anxiety is to make an appointment to see your GP. They’ll be able to talk to you about how you’re feeling and the symptoms you’re experiencing. Using this information, your GP will be able to either diagnose anxiety themselves, or refer you to a mental health specialist for further review. It’s likely that a GP will also conduct a physical examination to rule out any other causes for your symptoms.

Alternatively, you may wish to get in touch with a mental health provider, such as Priory, directly. Our friendly and knowledgeable team will be able to put you in contact with the most appropriate mental health expert for your individual needs, to receive a consultation and diagnosis.

Our psychiatrists will usually use a formal diagnostic test to identify anxiety. It’s likely that this will be a rating scale where you’re asked to rate the severity or frequency of your symptoms. This will help our experts to conduct an in-depth assessment of your mental state and we’ll also be able to identify what type of anxiety you’re struggling with. This will then help us to create a tailored treatment plan, based on your individual needs.

Take our free anxiety test

If you need help assessing yourself, our free assessment tool could help.

When should I get anxiety help?

Anxiety can be debilitating and can cause a whole range of distressing symptoms. Symptoms of anxiety may include:

  • Constant feelings of worry and dread, and feeling as though you’re ‘on edge’ all the time
  • Feeling irritable and angry for no clear reason and often taking this out on people who are closest to you
  • Physical signs of anxiety such as a racing heart, sweating, nausea, trembling and appetite changes
  • Experiencing panic attacks

If you’re experiencing some of the symptoms above and are finding that these are disrupting your overall quality of life and your ability to find enjoyment in things, it’s important that you get professional help. Remember, you don’t have to suffer in silence. Anxiety is treatable and we can help you make a full recovery.

What happens after an anxiety diagnosis?

You may feel a mixture of emotions when you’re diagnosed with anxiety. You might feel overwhelmed, upset or confused – all of which are completely normal. You might also feel a sense of relief at finally being able to understand why you’ve been feeling the way you have. Ultimately, getting an anxiety diagnosis is your first step along the road to recovery.

Once you’ve had a diagnosis, you’ll be in a position to start treatment and start getting your life back on track. Treatment will help you to address your symptoms, explore any underlying triggers or causes for your anxiety and develop coping mechanisms for the future.

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How to reduce anxiety symptoms

As well as specialist anxiety treatment, there are a number of practical things you can do yourself, to try and manage anxiety symptoms:

  • Make sure you get enough sleep at night and exercise regularly
  • Avoid smoking
  • Avoid taking illegal drugs
  • 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: “what’s the worst thing that could happen”?

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

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