Doctors are not concerned with normal anxiety that keeps us alert in dangerous or stressful situations. Instead, they diagnose fear and anxiety that reaches overwhelming levels, reduces or eliminates productivity and significantly changes a person's quality of life. Clinicians recognize about 12 subtypes of anxiety disorder which include:
If you think you are experiencing an anxiety disorder, the first person you should see is your family doctor. Your doctor will investigate whether symptoms are due to an anxiety disorder, another medical condition, or both. If an anxiety disorder is diagnosed, the next step is usually seeing a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or a counselor.
Each anxiety disorder includes a set of primary distinguishing features and a mental health professionals will use The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, (DSM-IV) to clinically diagnose possible anxiety disorders. Your symptoms will be diagnosed according to the standards set out in this manual. We'll teach you more about how to treat anxiety disorders, in the next section.