Could you be suffering from an anxiety disorder? There are a few different anxiety tests available, find out which is the best anxiety test for you.
There are a few different anxiety tests available. There are anxiety tests that can be used to “self diagnose”, others that are the anxiety test doctors use and still more for different types of anxiety disorders.
Find out more about each anxiety test and which one is the best for you.
Anxiety test doctors use
The Depression Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS) is a well regarded and reliable measure of depression, anxiety and stress. It uses a three scale rating system which means it is essentially a Stress Test, an Anxiety Test and a Depression Test all rolled into one.
It was developed by medical professionals and is designed to meet the scientific requirements of researchers, psychologists and psychiatrists. The test is suitable for both adolescents and adults.
The DASS is essentially a Stress Test, an Anxiety Test and a Depression Test all rolled into one
There are two versions of the DASS: the DASS-21 and the DASS-42. (Either one is valid, there’s no need to use both.)
The DASS-21 has 21 questions and the DASS-42 has 42 questions. The questions ask you about symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. The answers are multiple choice, asking you to note how often the symptom applied to you.
The questions ask you about symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress.
To download a PDF of the DASS21 with the full list of questions and scoring sheet, click here.
The DASS is a self-reporting tool and no special skills are required to administer the anxiety test or to score it. However, decisions based on particular score profiles should be made only by experienced clinicians (eg clinical psychologist or psychiatrist) who have carried out an examination.
The anxiety test most commonly used for self diagnosis is the K10. Developed by Professor Ronald Kessler, the K10 is a simple checklist which aims to measure psychological distress.
The K10 anxiety test asks a series of 10 questions (with multiple choice answers) about how often you have felt anxiety and/or depression symptoms in the past 4 weeks.
The scores are added up with the maximum score of 50 indicating severe distress, and the minimum score of 10 indicating no distress.
A guide to interpreting the K10 anxiety test scores is below:
The higher your score, the more likely you are to be experiencing anxiety and/or depression.
The K10 was designed for use in the general population and you do not need medical training in order to understand the results. The higher your score, the more likely you are to be experiencing anxiety and/or depression.
Important note: these tests are designed to highlight the existence of anxiety symptoms, not to diagnose anxiety. For a formal diagnosis, you need to be assessed by a health professional who is qualified and trained to do so (eg a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist).
Women are twice as likely as men to have an anxiety disorder. They also occur earlier in women than in men.
In addition, women are more likely than men to have multiple psychiatric disorders in their life. The one that most commonly occurs alongside anxiety is depression.
According to the ADAA, differences in brain chemistry may account for part of these differences. The brain system involved in the fight-or-flight response is more easily activated in women and stays activated longer than men. This is partly because of the higher levels of oestrogen and progesterone.
Some evidence suggests that the female brain does not process serotonin as quickly as the male brain.
The neurotransmitter serotonin (also known as the “happy hormone”) may play a role too. Some evidence suggests that the female brain does not process serotonin as quickly as the male brain. Recent research has found that women are more sensitive to low levels of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF), a hormone that organises stress responses in mammals, making them twice as vulnerable as men to stress-related disorders.
Both the K10 anxiety test and the DASS work equally well for women as for men.
If you have scored above the “normal” range in the anxiety test or if you are concerned that you may have anxiety and/or depression, please see your healthcare practitioner.
As mentioned previously, these self administered anxiety tests are designed to highlight the existence of anxiety symptoms, not to diagnose anxiety. For a formal diagnosis, you need to be assessed by a mental health professional or your doctor who is qualified and trained to make a diagnosis (eg your GP, a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist).
You don’t have to suffer with anxiety, there are many ways to treat it
Medication is not the most effective treatment for anxiety, however it is among the most common, especially in severe cases. There are a few different types of anxiety medication. To get a prescription for medication you will need to see your doctor.
Some anti-depressant medication is helpful to people with anxiety, even if they do not have depression.
The idea behind medication is that those with anxiety and depression have an imbalance in the brain chemicals serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine. Medication seeks to address that imbalance.
As with all medication there are side effects such as nausea, weight gain, dizziness, sweating, sexual difficulties, headaches, dry mouth and agitation among others. In addition, the time between starting to take the anti-depressant and seeing a response can be 2 weeks or more. It can then take several months to get the right balance of medication for you.
Those wanting to use medication should speak to their doctor about the benefits and risks.
Medication is not the most effective treatment for anxiety, but it is among the most common
These types of drugs are prescribed to be used in the short term (2 to 3 weeks) to help with anxiety. They reduce tension and aid in relaxation. However, if overused they can reduce alertness, affect coordination and can be addictive.
CBT: CBT recognises that the way we think and act affects how we feel. Through CBT, people uncover the negative thought patterns that are contributing to their anxiety. There have been many studies showing that CBT appears to be the one of the most effective therapies for depression and anxiety.
Dr. David D. Burns, author of Feeling Good, which sold over 4 million copies, explains that “cognitive therapy can be at least as effective as drugs, and for many patients appear to be more effective”.
Behaviour therapy: behaviour therapy differs from CBT in that it doesn’t try to change your beliefs. Behaviour therapy is more action-based. What this means for those with anxiety is something called “graded exposure”. There are a few different approaches but in general the idea is that, with a help of a therapist, you would gradually expose yourself to the thing/situation that is causing the anxiety in order to learn to cope with it.
Self treatments empower you to be able to mange your mental health yourself; understanding your body and mind and what you need to do to take care of them.
Self treatments empower you to be able to mange your mental health yourself
There are many studies showing the effectiveness of meditation on anxiety symptoms.
When we have anxiety, persistent thoughts can cause distress as we buy into these thoughts and get carried away in worries and imagined outcomes. Meditation teaches you to allow these thoughts to pass without engaging with them, which enables a calmer mind.
Meditation also changes the physical structure of the brain. It causes parts of the brain responsible for learning, memory, emotion processing, empathy, compassion and perspective taking, to get bigger. It also causes the parts of the brain responsible for fear and the fight or flight response, to get smaller.
Meditation changes the physical structure of the brain, causing the parts responsible for emotion processing and compassion to get bigger
Exercise is considered vital for maintaining mental fitness, and it can reduce anxiety and depression. Studies show that it is very effective at reducing fatigue, improving alertness and concentration, and at enhancing overall cognitive function. This can be especially helpful when stress (cortisol) has depleted our energy or ability to concentrate.
Regular exercise has also been found to be equally as effective as antidepressant medication in the treatment of mild to moderate depression. A recent study found that an increase of physical activity from inactive to three times a week resulted in a 20% decrease of the risk of depression”. Read What Exercise Does to your Mind, Body and Anxiety Levels for more information.
There’s a chance that you are suffering from anxiety because you are deficient in certain nutrients
Amending your diet can have an impact on your level of anxiety. There’s a chance that you are (in part) suffering from anxiety because you are deficient in certain nutrients. Scientific research has shown a link between anxiety and a deficiency of any of the following: selenium, Vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants/Vitamins A, C, and E, B vitamins and folate, magnesium and zinc. Read Foods to Help with Stress and Anxiety Relief: The Ultimate Guide for further information.
The majority of evidence suggests the relationship between sleep problems and anxiety is strong and goes both ways. This means sleep problems can lead to anxiety and vice versa. For example, worrying and feeling tense during bedtime can make it difficult to fall asleep, but having trouble falling asleep, and in turn not getting enough sleep, can also result in more anxiety.
Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for your mental and physical wellbeing.
The Nurture Project
Is a research-driven, effective anxiety treatment program that combines psychology alongside proven lifestyle treatments (meditation, exercise, nutrition, sleep and self care) that have been tried and tested and proven to decrease anxiety levels.
In The Nurture Project‘s 12 week online program, you will be empowered to take care of your stress and anxiety, defeating it for good.
- Faster and longer-lasting results
- Daily motivation to keep you on track
- Trackers so you can learn about yourself and which activities impact your anxiety. Everyone is different so you will learn the right balance for you.
- Mindset exercises to put you back in charge of your life again
- Tailored exercise program to suit your activity level
- Guided meditations to help you rediscover clarity and space in your mind
- Sleep program so you can wake feeling refreshed and rested
- Dietician approved meal plans and recipes especially developed to boost your brain, your body your mood
- Access to a close-knit, supportive community of others going through exactly what you are going through
- All treatment in one place
- Cheaper than medication and/or seeing a counsellor