Even though the public awareness on panic attacks and anxiety disorder has improved tremendously in the past decade, many people still go without diagnostic for much too long. If you feel that anxiety significantly affects your life quality, you should consult your doctor to begin with. Asides from looking at your health records, the doctor should ask you some baseline questions to ascertain the extent of your anxiety problems.

This article will run you through those standard questions so you can self-appraise your condition. Remember, this is meant as a personal reference and not to substitute medical advice.

Do you feel that anxiety is getting in the way of your personal and professional life?

One of the first questions your doctor will probably ask; this is meant to contextualize your problems and figure their extent. You should do your best to remain objective and accurately describe how and why you feel about anxiety. Most medical doctors have some knowledge on the different types of anxiety disorder, and how you answer this question will allow them to better understand what is going on.

How often do you experience uncontrollable anxiety and/or panic attacks?

The point of this question is to try and determine if you have generalized anxiety or a more specific condition such as panic attacks, fear of open spaces (agoraphobia). A definite diagnostic can only be established by a psychologist, and depending on how you describe your problem there’s a good chance you’ll be encouraged to seek the help of a therapist. The role of a MD at this stage is to determine whether your anxiety is sourced by any kind of physical sickness, or if it’s a stand alone problem.

Have you recently experienced a traumatic episode or particularly stressful phase?

Since intense stress traumatic experiences are known to trigger temporary anxiety problems, this is also a very common question. If your here answer is no, that indicates a higher chance that you’re having anxiety sickness, as opposed to a temporary reaction to a specific life trauma.

Do you have a family member who has experienced similar issues?

Genetic factors are often a strong cause behind anxiety disorders, so if you answer yes to this question it means there’s an increased likelihood that you are indeed struggling with some kind of anxiety problem.

Do you abuse alcohol, drugs, coffee, or prescription anxiety medications?

Coffee, alcohol and other recreational drugs are some of the substances that are known to make anxiety worse; likewise, abusing anti-anxiety drugs can lead to further complications with chronic anxiety (that’s just one of the reasons why people should be very cautious about those drugs).

Remember, the point here is not to help you get a “better grade” when your doctor asks you these questions; rather, it’s to help you get prepared to answer as accurately and clearly as you possibly can. You should be 100% honest and transparent with your MD, since otherwise they won’t be able to fully help you.