In my first article in this series, How to Identify and Eliminate Anxiety Disorders, I highlighted some of the reasons why anxiety disorders are complex. I also explored some of the common symptoms of anxiety disorders.
In this article, I will show you how you can assess yourself regarding anxiety disorders. If you’re not already sure, the following details will assist you in ascertaining your exact condition and offer what your next action-step should be.
The best place to begin a recovery journey is on the platform of recognition. In other words, you will need to know what is exactly wrong before you can provide a right solution to fix it. This is where self-assessment comes in.
After the self-assessment stage, the next thing is to figure out the right intervention or solution for your situation. I will cover this part in my next article. Obviously, everyone wants the answers to their problems NOW. But the truth of the matter is that assessment is as important as intervention.
There is no point looking for an answer to a problem which you have not adequately identified. If you assess wrongly, your intervention will also be wrong. It’s like replacing all the four wheels of a car with a broken engine, hoping it will make the car run as it should. The car won’t run as it should until a thorough assessment of the car is conducted and the broken engine is diagnosed.
This is exactly the same with regards to anxiety disorders. You must be sure about your situation or situations (as it’s possible for two or more anxiety outlets to exist together), after which you can then figure out the best remedy.
Just to refresh your memory, anxiety disorders are multi-faced. They include generalised anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, obsessive–compulsive disorder and body dysmorphic disorder.
In assessing your anxiety disorder, the following areas should be examine with respect to how your anxiety is affecting you:
- Duration, severity of symptoms and any loss of abnormality in the way you function day-to-day.
- Whether or not you have more than one anxiety disorders simultaneously .
- Your past and current treatments: whether or not they are helpful.
- The impact of your anxiety on your home environment, relationships and family.
- Risk to self, self-reglet or risk to others.
Below are the questions to go through in order to self-assess your situation. These are generic questions endorsed by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) regarding anxiety disorders:
To ascertain the level at which anxiety disorder is affecting your everyday life, answer the following questions as much as possible:
- What is a typical day like?
- Do you have some control over your symptom?
- How do you manage your symptoms?
- What would your life be like you did not have anxiety?
- What would you be able to do that you can’t at the moment?
To ascertain what type of anxiety you may have, answer the following questions:
- What worry do you have?
- How do you stop or control your worry?
- What fears do you have
- In what situation does intense anxiety rise?
- How are you sleeping?
- How does anxiety affect your body?
- Have you experienced a traumatic event? Give example.
- Do you find yourself avoiding places or certain activities?How does this cause you problem?
- What sets off your anxiety (triggers, situations or thoughts)?
- Is there any thought that is bothering and would like to get rid of but can’t?
- Are you concern about putting things in special order or are you very upset by mess?
- How do these problems affect you?
- Do you find yourself avoiding social gatherings or activities?
- How do social situations make you feel?
Use the following details to finally self assess your condition:
- PANIC DISORDER: You have panic disorder if what you are most worried about is connected to any of the following: fear of heart attacks, collapsing, or panic attack. SYMPTOMS include intense fear and panic, choking sensations, a shortness of breath, palpitation, trembling, numbness, feeling faint, a feeling of dread, a fear of dying, shaking, shivering, feelings of losing control or going mad.
- GAD: For Generalised Anxiety Disorder, you can self-assess using two criteria: 1) Excessive worry and anxiety about many things; 2) Difficulties in controlling the worry. SYMPTOMS include restlessness, difficulty in concentrating, fatigue, dizziness, tiredness, muscle tension, irritability, headaches, pins and needles, feeling sick, shaking, dry mouth, excessive sweating.
- SOCIAL ANXIETY: This concerns excessive worrying about social situations. Social anxiety is present if you worry too much about any thing that might cause you embarrassments in public. This includes a fear of eating, drinking or performing in public places. SYMPTOMS also include anxiousness about being with other people, problem talking or socialising with others, worrying for days before an event, excessive fear that people will judge or criticise you, struggles in making friends, avoidance public places, feeling sick in the stomach when around people, feeling nauseous, dread meeting strangers or talking on the telephone.
- OCD: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is about the constant presence of unwanted intrusive thoughts or images. A person with OCD often feels the compulsion of engaging in repetitive behaviours or mental acts to temporarily reduce their anxiety or distress. They also worry about contaminations or being responsible for harm coming to someone. SYMPTOMS include anxiety and compulsive intrusive thoughts.
- BDD: Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is an anxiety disorder that is largely about the body image. If you have BDD, you’ll be worrying a lot about your appearance, causing you huge anxiety that disrupts your day-to-day life. SYMPTOMS include mirror gazing, excessive camouflaging tactics, comparing feature to others, skin picking, excessive dieting or exercising to correct a perceived defect, and excessive reassurance seeking.
- PTSD: Post Traumatic Stress Disorders often develops in the aftermath of a threatening or catastrophic event; such as sexual abuse, violent personal assaults, witnessing violent deaths, severe neglect, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, military combat, and being held hostage. SYMPTOMS include re-experiencing episodes such as flashbacks, nightmares or distressing images. Other symptoms include, emotional numbing, avoidance of potential triggers of bad memories, depression, anger, irritability, drug and alcohol misuse.
Once you ascertain your anxiety disorder, you can go ahead to explore the type of interventions that is right for your situation. In my next article, I will attempt to show you what the best solutions are for different anxiety disorders and how you can get started on them.
In the meantime, challenge yourself to answer the above questions to the best of your ability and watch the effects they have on you. It is been proven that people feel a lot better having completed a thorough assessment of their anxiety conditions. So, it is up to you to test it out for yourself.
You may have also come across the below screenshot of the GAD7 on your travels. It is also good for self-assessment focusing on generalised anxiety disorder. Remember to ascertain your score by following the guidelines at the bottom of the form: