Diagnosis

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 medical condition that may need treatment.

However, you may need to see a mental health 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 professionals can diagnose anxiety and provide counseling (psychotherapy).

To help diagnose an anxiety disorder and rule out other conditions, your provider may:

  • Give you a psychological evaluation. This involves describing your thoughts, feelings and behavior to help pinpoint a diagnosis and check for related complications. Anxiety disorders often occur along with other mental health problems — such as depression or substance abuse — which can make diagnosis more challenging.
  • Compare your symptoms to the criteria in the DSM-5. Many doctors use the criteria in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, to diagnose an anxiety disorder.