An Ultra-Brief Test For Anxiety Disorders

Posted on December 22, 2017

Photo: pexels

Published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, this study presents a super brief test which can help identify an anxiety disorder in patients.

The research finds that almost 20% of people who visit their doctor have an anxiety disorder. To suggest that there is a problem that needs to be addressed, simply asking these two questions is often enough:

1. In the past two weeks, have you felt nervous, anxious or on edge?
2. In the past two weeks, have you been unable to stop or control worrying?

With four possible responses to these two questions:
• Not at all
• Several days
• More than half the days
• Nearly every day

The more frequently someone feels nervous, is worrying and is unable to stop or control it, i.e. nearly everyday or more than half the days, the higher the chance that there is a problem of anxiety.

The first author of the study, Dr Kurt Kroenke, states that anxiety is often manifested as a physical symptom, one such as fatigue, the inability to sleep, or even pain. Thus, he doesn't find it surprising that one in five patients who come to the doctor's office with a physical complaint have anxiety. The study had been carried out across 15 primary care clinics with a total of 965 participants.

Dr Kroenke goes on to add that "doctors like to quantify things" and while blood pressure, blood sugar or cholesterol are things that can be objectively measured, "symptoms of anxiety can be missed in a busy primary care practice". "The seven-question GAD-7 and remarkably even the two question 'ultra brief' version gives the physician a tool to quantify the patient's symptoms - sort of a lab test for anxiety".

While it is clear that these two questions on their own are barely enough for a full and concrete diagnosis, but they can help in identifying a need for even further help.

This study can be accessed here.


Source material from PsyBlog

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