Anxiety Symptoms and Diagnosis: How do you know if you have anxiety?

How do you know if you have anxiety

Anxiety when experienced once in a while is a normal part of life. Anxiety becomes a problem when it becomes extreme, excessive and persistent. The fear accompanying the anxiety about everyday situations can be
debilitating. Panic attacks often experienced in people with anxiety disorders can be experienced any time sometimes even during sleep.

For people with anxiety disorders, it is always a challenge to perform the daily activities. This is because panic attacks and anxiety symptoms are extreme, intense and difficult to control. The attacks also can hit at any time with intense feelings when compared with the causative agent.

How do you know if you have anxiety? Some people may not know that they have an anxiety disorder. One of the reason is because some of the anxiety disorders can start during childhood or during teenage years.

These anxieties can continue happening during adulthood. The person learns to avoid some people, places or situations as a result.

Sometimes the cause of anxiety may not be clear. This makes the anxiety symptoms even more severe. The severity also increases because you may think that you may not get a solution for the anxiety.

There are over 6 types of anxiety disorders. They include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorders: This is an anxiety disorder where one experiences extreme anxiety for a duration of time about several activities or events. When comparing the anxiety and the causal agent, the worry is excessive or out of proportion. In most instances it is comorbid with depression or other anxiety disorders.
  • Social anxiety disorder: This is extreme worry or fear about being in social situations. The person suffering from the anxiety is scared of being embarrassed, ridiculed or generally being viewed negatively by others. This makes the individual to avoid sometimes in crude ways being in social situations.
  • Agoraphobia: It is the fear of the fear. It is comorbid with panic disorders, depression, dysthymia and other anxiety disorders. It occurs when one gets extreme worry and fear about being in a place or situation that you cannot escape from. The fear comes also from the worry about getting trapped, helpless, embarrassed and without help in those situations.
  • Panic disorder: Panic disorder is the excessive worry or fear episodes that are recurrent (panic attacks). The panic attacks peaks within a few minutes but leave the person worried about recurrence of the symptoms and drained. Some of the symptoms include having feelings of impending doom, nausea, shortness of breath and chest pain, increased heart rate and pounding heartbeat, excessive worry, sweating among others.
  • Separation anxiety disorder: It is an anxiety disorder where children and sometimes adults get extreme fear or worry from being detached from a person or place that they are accustomed to. The child suffering from separation anxiety disorder fears getting separated from parents or close family or their home and the level of anxiety is too excessive for the situation.
  • Selective mutism: It is an anxiety disorder where a child has recurrent episodes of failure to speak in certain situations or to some people. This occurs in children who can talk and thus do not speak due to the anxiety. The child can talk freely at home or to close friends or family but cannot speak to others. The child therefore is unable to perform well at school, in social development and when it occurs in adults they cannot perform at work.
  • Specific phobias: This is an anxiety disorder where one has excessive worry or fear about some specific object or situation. It is thus accompanied by the desire to avoid the object or situation. The situations or object when they cannot be avoided causes some individuals to develop a panic attack.

There are other anxiety disorders or associated emotional disorders that have excessive worry and fear as part of their symptoms. These anxiety related disorders may include:

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Substance-induced anxiety disorder
  • Anxiety disorder due to a medical condition

Sometimes a person can present with more than one anxiety disorder. The best news is that anxiety disorders are treatable.

How do you know if you have anxiety?

To know if you have an anxiety disorder there are some of the steps you can take:

  • Observe the anxiety symptoms, together with how regular and extreme they occur.
  • Observe the things that follow the anxiety symptoms
  • Seek professional advice
  • Use an anxiety quiz
  • Get a physical exam and laboratory tests using modern methods as recommended by the anxiety specialist

The above methods on how to know if you have anxiety are partly done by yourself or done by a qualified professional. It is important at all times to seek professional advice when you suspect that you have an anxiety

Observe the anxiety symptoms

There are several anxiety symptoms that can be used to suspect an anxiety disorder. They are used in the performance of medical history by a doctor too. The symptoms must not be due to an underlying medical condition, use of medications or abuse of substances.

The most common signs and symptoms of anxiety disorders include:

  • Having a feeling of impending doom, danger or panic
  • Being restless or on the edge
  • Being easily irritated
  • Having an increased heart rate
  • Feeling tired most of the time or getting tired easily
  • Breathing rapidly
  • Muscle tension
  • Increased sweating
  • Difficulty in staying asleep, falling asleep or having restless and unsatisfying sleep.
  • Trembling and tremors in the extremities
  • Having concentration problems or sometimes experiencing a blank mind. In this situation it is difficult to think about anything else other than the fear and worry
  • Feeling the need to avoid certain places, people or situations that trigger the anxiety
  • Having problems in the gut
  • Feeling as if you are about to lose control and thus cannot control the worry

It is important to note the regularity and severity of the symptoms. The symptoms may be increasing in severity or regularity. Most of the symptoms can make life unbearable.

Thus it is good to try and prevent the appearance of panic attacks and anxiety disorder.

To diagnose an anxiety disorder, at least 3 of the symptoms above must be recurring for at least 6 months. For children however, having one of the symptoms or more for at least 6 months can be used for diagnosis of
anxiety disorders.

The symptoms of anxiety must also be giving you significant distress or disability. This can be either in social situations, occupational functioning or other significant life activities.

Most of the high anxiety symptoms listed above can be associated with other mental disorders. It is important to rule out the other mental disorders before diagnosing anxiety disorders.

For you, how do you know if you have anxiety may depend first on checking the anxiety symptoms.

Observe what happens after the anxiety or panic attack

Anxiety disorders present with the symptoms above. The symptoms can cause a great worry in any individual. Anxiety disorders in addition to presenting with the symptoms listed above also manifest with the following:

  • Use of all possible ways to avoid the anxiety trigger: Due to an anxiety disorder, an individual may use any means possible to avoid the anxiety trigger. If the person is having a fear about being in places where they cannot escape the person avoids such places altogether or when it is absolutely necessary for them to be in such a place the person stays alert and in an area where they can see the door. Some people may even refuse to leave the house or not use public transport. These avoidance situations occur in most anxiety disorder.
  • The fear of the attack happening again: Some people leave in constant fear about getting the next panic attack or anxiety attack. This makes a person not to live their lives fully. This fear can be crippling and thus can either make a person to try and avoid the trigger or always have your body in alert mode which in itself can trigger the anxiety.
  • Presence of other emotional disorders: In most instances, anxiety disorders are co-morbid or can lead to the development of other emotional disorders. A panic attack can lead to major stress in your life causing depression. The person having depression may develop other anxiety disorders thus making the situation worse. It is therefore important to note all that for a better diagnosis when you see a specialist.

On how do you know if you have anxiety, you can also utilize the effects of the fear on your life to help in diagnosis.

Use an anxiety test quiz

There are several professionally developed anxiety test quiz available on the internet today. They apply the methods discussed here to try and diagnose the anxiety. These anxiety test quiz can be applied at any time to
check if the symptoms qualify to be classified under any anxiety disorder or other emotional disorders.

The anxiety test quiz will check on your medical history and the accompanying effects of the high anxiety symptoms. The quiz will therefore use the above listed symptoms in addition to the situations, people or places
that trigger the symptoms to try and give you the nearest diagnosis.

The anxiety test quiz will also check on the comorbidities and resultant behaviors when one suffers from an anxiety/panic attack. It should be noted that no two people suffer an anxiety disorder in the same way. However there are some commonalities.

It should be noted however that the anxiety test quiz is for personal use only and thus may not be admissible to the diagnosis by a professional. The tests form the basis on how do you know if you have anxiety.

Seek professional advice

Professional help: How do you know if you have anxiety?

Anxiety disorders in most people present with different presentations even though there are some common symptoms. They are also comorbid with other emotional disorders.

Some of the symptoms of anxiety disorders can be shared with other medical conditions. For example a panic attack and a heart attack will present with similar symptoms. It is hard for an individual to know the difference and when one gets a panic attack most people confuse it with a heart attack.

It is therefore important to seek advice from a qualified medical professional. The medical professional will do the following:

  • Check your medical history to get to understand the symptoms, their severity, their regularity, how they affect your life and others.
  • The doctor will administer a psychological questionnaire which will help him/ her to come up with an accurate diagnosis. The questionnaire asks some similar questions to the anxiety quiz but are more detailed.
  • The doctor will also use the anxiety diagnosis criteria as listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM-5. It helps to determine the thresholds for various emotional disorders.
  • The doctor may also order that you undergo a physical exam and other laboratory tests for diagnosis of anxiety disorders.

The doctor will help you to determine the basis on how do you know if you have anxiety.

Physical exam and laboratory tests for anxiety

Anxiety disorders may not be confirmed in a laboratory or by examination because they are emotional disorders. However, a test is able to rule out other medical conditions that present with the same symptoms.

Examples of medical conditions that can present with similar symptoms include hyperthyroidism, schizophrenia, delusional disorder, depression, somatic symptom disorder, anorexia nervosa, dysmorphic disorder among others.

It is also clear that anxiety disorders may develop due to the presence of a medical condition. Therefore diagnosis and treatment of the medical condition may go a long way in treating the anxiety disorder.

The physical exam explores the following:

  • Is the anxiety linked to medications
  • Does the anxiety occur due to abuse of drugs or substances
  • Is the anxiety due to an underlying medical condition
  • Are some of the symptoms potentiated by taking some foods or drinks like stimulants

When a doctor suspects an underlying medical condition, he/she may recommend that you undergo a laboratory test. The test either a blood test, urine test, stool test, fluids test or other tests will help to rule out or confirm the suspected medical condition. The test is also able to confirm the presence of medications or abused substances in the body.

After the physical exam and laboratory tests where necessary, the doctor is able to accurately give the right diagnosis. The diagnosis can form a basis to know how to prevent the occurrence of the anxiety disorder and treat the anxiety where possible.

The final word

How do you know if you have anxiety? This is done by observing the symptoms and using professional help. Since anxiety disorders can be crippling, it is very important if they can be diagnosed properly and treated.

There are several treatment options available for anxiety disorders and thus we should not let our lives be ruined by anxiety disorders. In most instances, treatment of anxiety disorders especially with modern methods have led to marked improvem