How are anxiety disorders diagnosed?

If you have symptoms of an anxiety disorder, talk to your healthcare provider. They’ll start with a complete medical history and physical examination.

There are no lab tests or scans that can diagnose anxiety disorders. But your provider may run some of these tests to rule out physical conditions that may be causing symptoms.

Who can diagnose anxiety disorders?

If your provider finds no signs of physical illness, they may refer you to a psychiatrist or psychologist. These mental health professionals specialize in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses. They may use specially designed interview and assessment tools to figure out if you have an anxiety disorder. Typically, the provider bases a diagnosis on:

  • Your reported symptoms, including how intense they are and how long they last.
  • Discussion of how the symptoms interfere with your daily life.
  • The provider’s observation of your attitude and behavior.

Providers also consult the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). The American Psychiatric Association publishes the DSM-5. It’s the standard reference manual for diagnosing mental illnesses.

Last reviewed by a Cleveland Clinic medical professional on 12/17/2020.

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