How is Anxiety Diagnosed?

Anxiety is usually diagnosed by a primary care physician, or a mental health professional , who will ask questions about certain symptoms. The doctor will talk with the patient about mood changes and behaviors.  For people with an anxiety disorder, their symptoms become so intense that they are unable to function normally in life. Overall, it is easier to diagnose anxiety than depression in Parkinson’s, because the symptoms of anxiety and Parkinson’s do not overlap as much.

In general, symptoms of anxiety may include:

  • Excessive fear and worry
  • Uncontrollable or unwanted thoughts
  • Sudden waves of terror
  • Nightmares
  • Ritualistic behaviors
  • Problems sleeping
  • Pounding heart
  • Cold and sweaty hands
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea

In people with Parkinson’s, a diagnosis of an anxiety disorder is made only if the symptoms involve a clear change in a patient’s previous behavior and are not easily confused with motor symptoms. For example, even though a patient may have a legitimate concern that a tremor or change in walking ability may be noticed in public, a diagnosis of social avoidance is only made if the patient realizes that the concern is excessive, the social situation is avoided, and it causes interference in the person’s life.

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Mind, Mood and Memory

Medical content reviewed by: Nina Browner, MD—Medical Director of the NPF Center of Excellence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in North Carolina and by Fernando Pagan, MD—Medical Director of the NPF Center of Excellence at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C.

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