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Symptoms and Diagnosis


Dr. Jerman
Some amount of stress and anxiety is normal in many situations. But when a person is excessively anxious or worried more days than not for several months, it may be a sign of an anxiety disorder. Dr. Phillips, can you tell us more about diagnosing anxiety disorders?

Dr. Phillips
Sure thing, Dr. Jerman. One important thing to remember is that in order to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, symptoms must persist for a period of time, and they also must have a significant impact on day-to-day functioning.

Generalized anxiety disorder is one of the more commonly diagnosed anxiety disorders. The most prominent symptom of generalized anxiety disorder is excessive and uncontrollable worry about a number of activities and events. Other symptoms can include:

  • Restlessness or feeling wound-up or on edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Difficulty concentrating or the mind going blank
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Difficulty controlling worries, and
  • Sleep problems

Another anxiety disorder is panic disorder. This condition is characterized by recurrent, unexpected panic attacks, as well as a persistent worry about having such attacks or maladaptive changes to routine in order to avoid these attacks. Panic attacks are sudden periods of intense fear that may include:

  • Palpitations or pounding heart
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Sensations of shortness of breath, smothering, or choking, and
  • A feeling of impending doom

Social anxiety, sometimes called social phobia, is another example of an anxiety disorder. People with social anxiety have a marked fear of social or performance situations in which they expect to feel embarrassed, judged, rejected, or fearful of offending others. When these fears impair day-to-day functioning or cause significant distress, a person may have social anxiety disorder.