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Anxiety (cont.)

When to Seek Medical Care for Anxiety

Call your doctor when the signs and symptoms of anxiety are not easily, quickly, and clearly diagnosed and treated.

  • If the symptoms are so severe that you believe medication may be needed
  • If the symptoms are interfering with your personal, social, or professional life
  • If you have chest pain, shortness of breath, headaches, palpitations, dizziness, fainting spells, or unexplained weakness
  • If you are depressed and feel suicidal or homicidal

When the signs and symptoms suggest that anxiety may have been present for a prolonged period (more than a few days) and appear to be stable (not getting worse rapidly), you may be able to make an appointment with your doctor for evaluation. But when the signs and symptoms are severe and come on suddenly, they may represent a serious medical illness that needs immediate evaluation and treatment in a hospital's emergency department.

Exams and Tests for Anxiety

The doctor will take a careful history, perform a physical examination, and order laboratory tests as needed.

  • If you have another medical condition that you know about, there may be an overlap of signs and symptoms between what is old and what is new.
  • Just determining that anxiety is psychological does not immediately identify the ultimate cause. Often, determining the cause requires the involvement of a psychiatrist, clinical psychologist, or other mental-health professional.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 12/10/2015

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