You may start by seeing your primary care doctor to find out if your anxiety could be related to your physical health. Your doctor can check for signs of an underlying condition that may need treatment.
However, you may need to see a specialist if you have severe anxiety. A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental health conditions. A psychologist and certain other mental health providers can diagnose anxiety and provide counseling (psychotherapy).
What you can do
Prepare and take this information with you:
- A list of your anxiety symptoms. Note when they occur, whether anything seems to make them better or worse, and how much they affect your day-to-day activities and interactions.
- What causes you stress. Include any major life changes or stressful events you've dealt with recently. Also note any traumatic experiences you've had in the past or as a child.
- Any other health problems you have. Include both physical conditions and mental health issues.
- A list of all medications you're taking. Include any medications, vitamins, herbs or other supplements and the dosages.
Prepare a list of questions ahead of time to make the most of your appointment. For anxiety, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- What's the most likely cause of my anxiety?
- Are there other possible situations, psychological issues or physical health problems that could be causing or worsening my anxiety?
- Do I need medical tests or other tests?
- Are there any restrictions or steps I need to follow?
- Should I see a psychiatrist, psychologist or other mental health provider?
- What type of therapy might help me?
- Would medication help? If so, is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing?
- Do you have any printed material that I can have? What websites do you recommend?
Don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor will likely do a physical exam and ask you several questions, such as:
Aug. 15, 2014
- What are your symptoms, and how severe are they?
- Have you ever had a panic attack?
- Do you avoid certain things or situations because they make you anxious?
- Have your feelings of anxiety been occasional or continuous?
- When did you first begin noticing your feelings of anxiety?
- Does anything in particular seem to trigger your anxiety or make it worse?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your feelings of anxiety?
- What traumatic experiences have you had recently or in the past?
- What, if any, physical or mental health conditions do you have?
- Do you take any prescription drugs?
- Do you regularly drink alcohol or use illegal drugs?
- Do you have any blood relatives with anxiety or other mental health conditions, such as depression?
- Anxiety disorders. In: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5. 5th ed. Arlington, Va.: American Psychiatric Association; 2013. http://www.psychiatryonline.org. Accessed Oct. 11, 2013.
- Highlights of changes from DSM-IV-TR to DSM-5. American Psychiatric Association. http://www.dsm5.org/Documents/changes%20from%20dsm-iv-tr%20to%20dsm-5.pdf. Accessed Oct. 8, 2013.
- Anxiety disorders. National Institute of Mental Health. http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/anxiety-disorders/index.shtml. Accessed Oct. 11, 2013.
- Facts for families: The anxious child. American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. http://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/Facts_for_Families_Pages/The_Anxious_Child_47.aspx. Accessed Oct. 11, 2013.
- U.S. News best hospitals 2012-2013. U.S. News & World Report. http://health.usnews.com/best-hospitals/rankings. Accessed Dec. 10, 2013.
- Bystritsky A. Pharmacotherapy for generalized anxiety disorder. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Oct. 11, 2013.
- Mayo-Wilson E, et al. Media-delivered cognitive behavioural therapy and behavioural therapy (self-help) for anxiety disorders in adults. Cochrane Database Systematic Reviews. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD005330.pub3/abstract. Accessed Oct. 11, 2013.
- Ravindran AV, et al. Complementary and alternative therapies as add-on to pharmacotherapy for mood and anxiety disorders: A systematic review. Journal of Affective Disorders. 2013;15:707.
- Rakel D. Integrative Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2012. http://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Oct. 11, 2013.
- Natural medicines in the clinical management of anxiety. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Oct. 11, 2013.
- Support & programs. National Alliance on Mental Illness. http://www.nami.org/Template.cfm?section=Find_Support. Accessed Oct. 11, 2013.
- Getting support. Anxiety and Depression Association of America. http://www.adaa.org/finding-help/getting-support. Accessed Oct. 11, 2013.
- Sarris J, et al. Plant-based medicines for anxiety disorders, Part 2: A review of clinical studies with supporting preclinical evidence. CNS Drugs. 2013;27:301.
- Kava. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Oct. 17, 2013.
- Valerian. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Oct. 17, 2013.
- Passionflower. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Oct. 17, 2013.
- FDA drug safety communication: Revised recommendations for Celexa (citalopram hydrobromide) related to potential risk of abnormal heart rhythms with high doses. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. http://www.fda.gov/drugs/drugsafety/ucm297391.htm. Accessed Oct. 28, 2013.
- Bauer BA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Oct. 28, 2013.
- Whiteside SP (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Nov. 27, 2013.
- Theanine. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Dec. 3, 2013.
- Sawchuk CN (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 5, 2013.
- Hall-Flavin DK (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 5, 2013.
You Are ... The Campaign for Mayo Clinic
Mayo Clinic is a not-for-profit organization. Make a difference today.