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Anxiety disorder


To make a diagnosis, you may need to have a physical examination and tests recommended by your doctor. Your doctor can help you determine if you have a medical condition that needs treatment and can set limits on lab tests, imaging, and referrals to specialists.

Your primary care physician may also refer you to a mental health professional. The professional may perform the following:

Obtain a psychological evaluation to discuss your symptoms, stressful situations, family history, fears or concerns, and ways that anxiety is negatively affecting your life.

Ask you to complete a self-assessment or psychological questionnaire.

Ask questions about alcohol, drug or other substance use.

Determine whether the preoccupation with illness may be due to another mental disorder, such as somatoform disorder or generalized anxiety disorder.


The goal of treatment is to help you manage your anxiety about your health and improve your ability to function in everyday situations. Psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy, may be helpful for an anxiety disorder. Sometimes certain medications may be included.


Because physical symptoms may be related to emotional stress and health-related anxiety, psychotherapy, especially cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can be an effective treatment. Cognitive-behavioral therapy will help you learn how to cope with the anxiety disorder of illness and find ways to deal with the worry without resorting to excessive medical tests or medical care.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help you to:

Identify your fears and thoughts about serious illness.

Learn alternative ways of interpreting bodily sensations by changing unnecessary thoughts.

Become more aware of how worry affects you and your behavior.

Change the way you react to physical sensations and symptoms.

Learn to manage and tolerate anxiety and stress.

Reduce your absence from situations or activities due to bodily sensations.

Reduce behaviors that cause you to repeatedly look for signs of illness and validation.

Improve daily functioning at home, at work, in relationships and in social situations.

Address other mental disorders such as depression.

Other therapies, such as exposure therapy and behavioral stress management, may also be helpful. Medications

Antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), may help you manage an illness-related anxiety disorder. Medications to treat mood or anxiety disorders, if present, may also be helpful.

Talk to your doctor about treatment options and possible side effects and risks.


In addition to professional treatment for illness anxiety disorder, these self-care measures can help:

Work with your doctor. Work with your primary care physician or mental health professional to establish a regular appointment schedule to discuss your concerns and build trust. Discuss setting reasonable limits for tests, evaluations and referrals. Avoid multiple physician referrals or emergency room visits, as this can make it difficult to coordinate your care and subject you to duplicative testing.

Practice relaxation and stress management techniques. Learning relaxation and stress management methods, such as progressive muscle relaxation, can help reduce anxiety.

Get some physical activity. A program of graded activities can have a calming effect on mood, reduce anxiety and help improve physical functioning.

Participate in activities. Staying involved in your work, social and family activities can help. Avoid alcohol and recreational drug use. Drug use can complicate health care. Talk to your doctor if you need help stopping it.

Avoid researching possible illnesses online. The large amount of health information that may or may not be related to your situation can cause confusion and anxiety. If you have any symptoms that concern you, talk to your primary care physician at your next scheduled visit.

Preparing for the visit

In addition to a medical evaluation, your primary care physician may refer you to a mental health professional, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist, for evaluation and determination of treatment.

The following information will help you prepare for your visit and what to expect from your primary care physician or psychologist.

what you can do

Your symptoms, including when they started, how they affected your daily life, and what you are doing to manage them.

Essential personal information, including past traumatic events or major stressors.

Medical information, including other physical or mental health conditions you have

Medications, vitamins, herbs and other dietary supplements and dosages

questions to the doctor

If possible, ask a trusted friend or family member to accompany you to your appointment to assist you and help you remember the information.

Here are some questions to ask your psychologist:

Do I have an anxiety disorder? What method of treatment do you recommend?

Would therapy be helpful in my case?

If you recommend therapy, how often will I need it and for how long?

If you recommend medication, what are the possible side effects?

How long should I take the medications? How can I check to see if my treatment is working?

Are there any self-care measures I can take to manage my condition?

Do you have brochures or other printed materials I can take with me? What sites do you recommend?

You are welcome to ask more questions during the consultation. What to expect from your doctor

Your primary care physician or psychotherapist may ask you:

What are your symptoms and when did they first appear?

How do the symptoms affect your life, e.g., B. School, work and personal relationships?

Have you or a member of your immediate family been diagnosed with a mental disorder?

Have you been diagnosed with any illness?

Do you use alcohol or recreational drugs? How often?

Do you exercise regularly?

Your primary care physician or mental health professional will ask you more questions based on your answers, symptoms and needs. Preparing and anticipating questions will help you make the most of your consultation time.

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