What is the role of physical exam and basic lab studies in the workup of an anxiety disorder?

Updated: Mar 27, 2019
  • Author: Nita V Bhatt, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: David Bienenfeld, MD  more...
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Answer

Because anxiety manifests with a number of physical symptoms, any patient who presents with a de novo complaint of physical symptoms suggesting an anxiety disorder should have a physical examination and basic laboratory workup to rule out medical conditions that might present with anxiety like symptoms (see Differentials).

For a patient who presents for a repeat visit with similar complaints, after medical contributors have been ruled out, a careful mental status examination might be better suited than repeat physical examination and laboratory investigations. (See Mental Status Examination.) While considering anxiety as the primary suspect, the physician should always remember that over time patients with anxiety do develop medical conditions at the same rate as other patients. In other words, a diagnosis of anxiety, while changing the threshold for investigation of physical symptoms, should not deprive the patient of regular follow-up examinations as otherwise indicated.


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