How Useful Are Online Anxiety Assessments?

Do a search for “Do I have anxiety?” and you’ll be presented with a wide range of online self-assessments that claim to tell you if you’ve got an anxiety disorder. For FREE! How awesome is that? That’s a great question!

On some level, it depends on which assessment you do. Some are basically BuzzFeed quizzes, others are more in-depth and at least feel like they’re more accurate. One of the better assessments that I’d feel comfortable recommending is this one from the UK’s National Health Service website. However, any test you take should be used simply as a guide to help you determine your next step.

My concern with relying solely on the results of these assessments is that they rely purely on self-reporting. We can all have skewed views of ourselves that varies depending on how we feel in a given moment. Someone without an anxiety disorder might get misleading results if they just happen to be having a stressful day, and someone with an anxiety disorder might opt not to get help because they were feeling fairly ok when they took the assessment.

But does that make these tools totally useless? I don’t think so. Again, they can be a good starting point for getting help, and maybe help point you in the direction of the kind of help you need. Depending on where you live, therapy can be expensive, so having a general idea of what you need could save you a lot of time and money.

Of course, any therapist you go to will do an assessment of their own. A good therapist will have a better idea of exactly what you’re dealing with because they’re not just a webpage of canned questions and answers. They can see and understand the nuances of your responses in a way these self-assessments simply can’t.

Finally,  I know there are many people who simply cannot afford therapy. These self-assessments are an affordable resource for those of us who just don’t have the money or insurance to cover a therapist, and can be a useful tool to point the way to further resources like books, or therapy apps which are far more affordable.

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