Tests and diagnosis

By Mayo Clinic Staff

To help diagnose generalized anxiety disorder, your health provider may:

  • Do a physical exam to look for signs that your anxiety might be linked to an underlying medical condition
  • Order blood or urine tests or other tests, if a medical condition is suspected
  • Ask detailed questions about your symptoms and medical history
  • Use psychological questionnaires to help determine a diagnosis

Many experts use the criteria listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, to diagnose mental conditions. This manual is also used by insurance companies to reimburse for treatment.

DSM-5 criteria for generalized anxiety disorder include:

  • Excessive anxiety and worry about several events or activities most days of the week for at least six months
  • Difficulty controlling your feelings of worry
  • At least three of the following symptoms in adults and one of the following in children: restlessness, fatigue, trouble concentrating, irritability, muscle tension or sleep problems
  • Anxiety or worry that causes you significant distress or interferes with your daily life
  • Anxiety that isn't related to another mental health condition, such as panic attacks or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance abuse, or a medical condition

Generalized anxiety disorder often occurs along with other mental health problems, which can make diagnosis and treatment more challenging. Some disorders that commonly occur with generalized anxiety disorder include:

  • Phobias
  • Panic disorder
  • Depression
  • Substance abuse
  • PTSD
Sep. 08, 2011

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