Medical tests for an anxiety disorder
May 29, 2007 10:02 PM   Subscribe

What tests should I be requesting to rule out physical causes of an anxiety disorder?

I've had a fairly severe anxiety disorder from a young age, and now that I have a good insurance, I'd like to get a thorough medical check-up to rule out any physical causes. I consistently have extremely low energy/malaise and feel run-down no matter the amount of sleep I get or how well I eat and exercise. I know this can be a side effect of anxiety/depression, but I want to make sure I'm not missing anything. I should specify that my main symptoms are anxiety/depersonalization without the stereotypical depression symptoms. (Any depression I feel is directly related to the anxiety, and not necessarily a disorder in itself.)

What type of tests should I request from my doctor? So far, I've had a CBC panel (came back basically normal - a little on the anemic side, though just barely), an EKG and a thyroid panel. In the past, I've also been tested for Epstein-Barr and Lyme's Disease (also negative). I Googled around a bit, and haven't found a conclusive list, so I'm curious if other MeFites have gone through this type of ruling-out process.

I'm not looking for advice for managing the anxiety - I've got that covered right now! Just curious about other tests I should request (if any) and if there's anything crucial I should be asking my doctor. Thanks!

(If it's relevant, I'm 26, female, normal weight, good diet, exercise, non-smoking, no caffeine, A+ water drinker, etc.)
posted by Zosia Blue to Health & Fitness (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh, and if also it's relevant for some reason: I currently take no medications beyond a multi-vitamin.
posted by Zosia Blue at 10:04 PM on May 29, 2007

The only thing I can think about is a test for mitral valve prolapse which has been linked to anxiety.

My understanding is that physical causes of anxiety are relatively rare.
posted by Ironmouth at 10:08 PM on May 29, 2007

Is your blood pressure normal?
posted by The Deej at 10:27 PM on May 29, 2007

Response by poster: Usually on the low side (last check was 98/66), but the doctor seems to think that's OK, so I'm OK with it.
posted by Zosia Blue at 10:28 PM on May 29, 2007

As Ironmouth says, it's virtually certain that anxiety is not caused by the sort of direct biological problem that you seem to be hoping to find.

They say that someone who acts as his own lawyer has a fool for a client. When it comes to this kind of thing, a person who tries to be her own doctor has a **** for a patient. Go see a psychiatrist and let a professional do the doctoring. If there's a biological cause, the psychiatrist will know much more about how to find it than any of us would.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 10:37 PM on May 29, 2007

Response by poster: I've seen a therapist and a psychiatrist for the past five years with great success. I have lingering symptoms, however. I'm almost certain my symptoms are from the anxiety disorder, but I'd like to rule out physical causes.
posted by Zosia Blue at 10:39 PM on May 29, 2007

BP sounds ok. High BP can cause feelings of anxiety in some people. It did in me.

But... check with a psychiatrist. I had some short time anxiety disorder, and was greatly helped by medication. I didn't take it long term, but it helped during the time I needed it. The psychiatrist may also be able to give you some lifestyle changes and/or behavioral therapy. Good luck!
posted by The Deej at 10:42 PM on May 29, 2007

There was another thread around here that suggested gallbladder issues.
posted by dame at 6:40 AM on May 30, 2007

I'm not diabetic but am at high risk, and if I don't eat for 5-6 hours (when I'm awake) and my blood sugar drops, it kinda feels like an anxiety attack (I used to have panic attacks). That's the only thing I know of personally.
posted by IndigoRain at 7:36 AM on May 30, 2007

Food allergies, sleep apnea, and reactive hypoglycemia.
posted by damn dirty ape at 8:09 AM on May 30, 2007

Do you eat out much? And is your vitamin generic or has it got extras like gbhb or something?

I ask because I can no longer eat KFC chicken, and I suspect I may have to give up Wendy's as well. The last time I had "the bucket", I went into an anxiety spiral so fast it almost made my head spin. I was already in counseling, already managing the anxiety, but this was downright awful. Crying jags for no reason. Malaise, you name it. It got better gradually over two days after I had the last bite.

The Hub had the same problem with the One A Day with GBHB or whatever that's supposed to help digest the carbs or something. It had pretty much the same effect. It turns out that particular supplement had quite a bit of chromium, and that's been linked to depression. He stopped taking it and was fine.

Finally, since it's spring going in to summer, you might want to ask a professional about "Summer SAD" (if you're noticing a seasonal change).
posted by lysdexic at 8:17 AM on May 30, 2007

What is your resting pulse? I found my pulse was bounding when I had anxiety issues, but has recently calmed down due to medication (I use Straterra, which is a mild anxiolytic, and it works wonders for me). My pulse was racing at about 110 all the time, and now it's down to 70. However, I think my anxiety issues were caused mentally and therefore were the root of the high heart rate, not the other way around.
A simple, free, easy test would be checking your pulse-oximetry (pulse-ox is usually the abbreviation used). Oftentimes, patients I've worked with have become anxious due to a low oxygen saturation in their blood (causing suffocation like panic). Next time you're at your doctor's office, as if they can measure your pulse-ox and see what it is. It should be high 90's.
posted by nursegracer at 4:03 PM on May 30, 2007

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