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Anxiety disorder is a medical condition that a variety of professionals can treat. The sooner you start treatment, the better the outcome you can expect.
Effective treatment of an anxiety disorder requires that you be completely open and honest with your doctor. It’s important that you trust the doctor who is treating your condition and feel comfortable with them. Don’t feel that you are "stuck" with the first doctor you see. If you’re not comfortable with them, you should see someone else.
You and your doctor must be able to work together as a team to treat your disorder. A variety of doctors and specialists may be able to help manage your anxiety. A good place to start is with your primary care physician.
Your primary doctor will conduct a complete physical examination to determine if your symptoms are being caused by another condition. Symptoms of anxiety may be due to:
If your doctor rules out other conditions, your diagnosis may be an anxiety disorder. At that point, they may refer you to a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist. A referral is especially likely if your anxiety is severe or is accompanied by another mental health condition, such as depression.
A psychologist can offer psychotherapy, also known as talk therapy or counseling. A psychologist can help get you to the root of your anxiety and make behavioral changes. This type of therapy may be especially helpful if you’ve experienced trauma or abuse. Depending on the state where you live, your psychologist may prescribe medications for your depression. Illinois, Louisiana, and New Mexico are the only states that allow psychologists to prescribe medicine.
Your treatment by a psychologist will likely be in conjunction with ongoing treatment by your primary doctor. Psychotherapy and medication are often used together to treat anxiety disorder.
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor with specialized training in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses. A psychiatrist can provide both psychotherapy and medication to treat your anxiety disorder.
Psychiatric nurse practitioners provide primary mental health care to people seeking treatment for a variety of mental health conditions. Psychiatric nurse practitioners are able to diagnose and treat people with mental illnesses, including prescribe medications. As fewer medical students go into psychiatry, more and more psychiatric care is being assumed by psychiatric nurse practitioners.
To make the most of your visit to the doctor, it’s a good idea to be prepared. Take a few minutes ahead of time to think about what you need to tell your doctor and what questions you want to ask. The best way to make sure you don’t forget anything is to write it all down.
This information will help your doctor make an accurate diagnosis of your condition.
List any other substances you use or consume, such as:
You’ve probably thought of a million questions you want to ask your doctor. But when you’re in the office, they’re easy to forget. Writing them down will help both you and your doctor, and save time. It’s a good idea to put the most important questions at the top of the list in case there isn’t time for all of them. Here are some questions you may want to ask. Add any others you think are important for your doctor to know.
The list of questions you make will help you be prepared to answer your doctor’s questions. Here are some questions your doctor will probably ask you:
In addition to your prescribed treatment, you may want to join a support group. It can be very helpful to talk with other people who are experiencing symptoms similar to yours. It’s good to know that you are not alone. Someone else with similar symptoms can understand what you’re going through and offer support and encouragement. Being part of a group can also help you develop new social skills.
Your community will likely have several support groups, either for your specific disorder or for anxiety in general. Check with your medical professionals to learn what resources are available in your area. You might ask your:
You can also participate in support groups online. This may be a good way to start if you have social anxiety disorder or feel uncomfortable in a face-to-face group setting.
Treatment of diagnosed anxiety is often multi-disciplinary. This means you may see one or all of the following medical practitioners:
Contact your general practitioner first, and be ready to describe:
Your doctor may refer you to other medical practitioners. The sooner you start treatment, the better the outcome you can expect.
Written by: the Healthline Editorial Team
Medically reviewed on: Oct 29, 2016: Timothy J. Legg, PhD, CRNP
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