Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

To help diagnose an anxiety disorder and rule out other conditions, your doctor or mental health provider may have you fill out a psychological questionnaire. Your doctor will probably do a physical exam to look for signs that your anxiety might be linked to a medical condition.

To be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you must meet criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association. This manual is used by mental health providers to diagnose mental conditions and by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.

Symptoms and diagnostic criteria differ for each type of anxiety disorder. However, they all share the features of excessive fear and problems with functioning as a result. Anxiety disorders often occur along with other mental health problems — such as depression or substance abuse — which can make diagnosis and treatment more challenging.

Tests and diagnosis at Mayo Clinic: Children and teens

Mayo Clinic's Pediatric Anxiety Disorders Clinic includes a comprehensive, one-day assessment clinic for children and teens with heightened anxiety, fears, nervousness and worry. Health care professionals thoroughly evaluate your child, providing diagnosis and treatment recommendations in a timely manner. During the evaluation, the care team conducts an interview that focuses on identifying anxious thoughts, physical sensations and behaviors.

In cases where anxiety is caused by or occurs with a medical illness, a doctor also performs a physical exam during the initial evaluation. A child and adolescent psychologist and a psychiatrist who specialize in anxiety disorders staff the clinic. This staffing allows for an integrated medical and psychological understanding of your child's symptoms.

Aug. 15, 2014