Brain Facts

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Diagnosis - anxiety disorder

Because anxiety accompanies so many medical conditions, some serious, it is extremely important for the doctor to uncover any medical problems or medications that might underlie or be masked by an anxiety attack. The doctor will perform a physical examination and ask about the patient’s medical and personal history.

The patient should describe any occurrence of anxiety disorders or depression in the family and mention any other contributing factors, such as excessive caffeine use, recent life changes, or stressful events.

It is very important to be honest with your doctor about all conditions, including excessive drinking, substance abuse, or other psychological or mood states that might contribute to, or result from, the anxiety disorder.

Diagnosing children with an anxiety disorder can be very difficult, since anxiety often results in disruptive behaviors that overlap with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or oppositional disorder. Other conditions with symptoms similar to anxiety disorders include pervasive developmental disorders such as Asperger syndrome, learning disabilities, bipolar disorder, and depression. Many children have anxiety disorder and a co-occurring condition, which should be treated along with anxiety.

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