How are anxiety disorders diagnosed

Without therapy, fear becomes chronic

When fear rules life (page 2/11)

Favorable prognosis with early start of treatment

Once someone has developed pronounced fears, they usually do not just go away on their own. This means that most anxiety disorders become chronic without treatment and often persist for years or decades. In addition, they often appear together with other illnesses, particularly depression and the abuse or dependence on alcohol, drugs or medication. Many affected people feel down and hopeless due to the persistent fears and the restrictions in everyday life.

Others try to fight anxiety with alcohol or drugs and will need more and more over time. Somatoform disorders are also relatively common with anxiety disorders. Those affected suffer from a variety of recurring and frequently changing physical symptoms.

But there is also good news: With the help of suitable therapy methods, anxiety disorders can in most cases be managed well. The prognosis is best if the fear has not been present for too long. But even fears that have existed for years are often significantly reduced by therapy, so that the quality of life of those affected usually improves significantly.

How is anxiety diagnosed?

In order to be able to make the diagnosis of an anxiety disorder, it is important to know exactly the current symptoms, the development and the course of the fears. Therefore, the doctor or psychotherapist will first have a detailed discussion with the person concerned. Questions about life history or previous or current stresses are also used to find out whether anxiety is the main problem or whether it occurs in the context of another mental illness, such as depression. In order to determine exactly how often and in which situations the fears arise, questionnaires are often used.

Since fears are very often associated with physical changes such as palpitations, shortness of breath or sweating, it must also be checked whether a physical cause could be behind the symptoms. For example, an overactive thyroid can cause someone to suffer from nervousness, irritability and increased anxiety.

The symptoms of heart disease, such as coronary artery disease or angina pectoris, can also be associated with severe anxiety. Furthermore, drugs such as thyroid preparations can also trigger anxiety as a side effect. To rule out a physical illness, blood tests or an electrocardiogram (EKG) are usually done to measure the electrical activity of the heart. Sometimes the head is also examined using magnetic resonance imaging (MRT) or computed tomography (CT).

One of the most common mental illnesses

An anxiety disorder can only be diagnosed if the fear is not triggered by a physical illness or medication. If the symptoms of anxiety are caused by a physical illness, they will go away on their own after the illness has been treated. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses Around five to 15 percent of people suffer from an anxiety disorder at least once in their life, and women are mostly affected twice as often as men.

About five to 15 percent of people will have an anxiety disorder at least once in their life. Most anxiety disorders affect women twice as often as men - but there are also fears that occur equally frequently in men and women.