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Easily Diagnosing Anxiety with State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI)

September 14, 2021

6 min read

Author : United We Care
Easily Diagnosing Anxiety with State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI)

Feeling anxious is not unusual. You often experience anxiety while appearing for a test or if a near one is not well. Such a state of mind is temporary. However, in an anxiety disorder, the individual continues to experience anxiety and the condition may worsen with time. The effect of an anxiety disorder can severely influence routine activities, interpersonal communication, relationships, work, and studies.

In generalized anxiety disorders, an individual may present symptoms of distress, worry, and discomfort for a lengthier period of over six months. These symptoms can severely affect general physical health, social behavior, and performance at work or school.

Diagnosing Anxiety disorders with State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI)

Differentiation of anxiety has always been a significant aspect of research in psychology. In some individuals, anxiousness is transient, while for others, it becomes a personality trait. The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory is a routine test to assess anxiety in a standard clinical setting. Straight and easy questions with simple options are highlights of the STAI test. The self-test is also a very convenient, fast, and non-invasive method for the diagnosis of anxiety.

Anxiety disorder can manifest as a feeling of being tense, uneasy, worried, and stressed because of certain situations or events. One can also continue to be anxious for a long time. The two types of anxiety disorders refer to S-anxiety and T-anxiety respectively. S-anxiety is a state of being anxious as a response to the situation at a particular time. In T-anxiety, there is a trait of feeling worried or distressed on a day-to-day basis.

What are Anxiety Disorders? 


Anxiety disorders comprise phobias, such as social phobia, separation phobia, and so forth. An individual can also suffer from multiple types of anxiety disorders.

Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

Some symptoms of anxiety are identical to the symptoms of stress. Some psychological and physical symptoms of anxiety disorders are as follows:

  • A feeling of restlessness or nervousness
  • The constant thought of some doom or panic
  • Trembling or shivering
  • Sweating
  • Increased heart rate
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Inability to concentrate

When to Seek Help for Anxiety Symptoms

You should visit a doctor if:

  • You are worrying excessively 
  • You have suicidal thoughts
  • Your worrying is affecting your relationships and routine activities 
  • You have anxiety because of your health issues
  • You are consuming alcohol or using drugs because of depression

Anxiety is treatable with a timely diagnosis. Seek psychological help with no delay if you or someone you know is experiencing the above symptoms.

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How Anxiety Disorders are Diagnosed

Diagnosis of anxiety disorders involves a variety of anxiety measures:

  • Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI):
    This is a brief test to differentiate between depression and anxiety. The self-report inventory assesses difficulty to relax, nervousness, and dizziness.
  • Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale – Anxiety (HADS-A):
    The test assesses anxiety disorder concerning the feelings of restlessness, fear, worry, and tension.
  • State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI):
    This measure of anxiety involves a self-report test for adults and children. It measures an individual’s current state of anxiety and anxiety as a personality trait.

Heredity, environmental factors, and imbalance of chemicals are some causes of anxiety. It is not possible to diagnose anxiety by performing lab tests. However, special assessment tests, personal interviews, and medical history can help a physician diagnose anxiety for an appropriate treatment like psychotherapy and medication.

What is State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI)?

STAI is a simple diagnostic test for reliable and easy detection of anxiety disorders. Spielberger Charles Spielberger, R.L. Gorsuch, and R.E. Lushene developed it as a questionnaire consisting of 40 questions. Individuals can use the questionnaire for self-reporting. The scores of the test provide a clear perspective of the level and type of anxiety disorders. The test is a suitable tool to distinguish between State Anxiety and Trait Anxiety with better precision.

Uses of STAI

State-Trait Anxiety Inventory offers insights into various aspects of anxiety, such as worry, fear, discomfort, nervous feelings, and stress. The questionnaire has two separate parts of twenty questions each for State Anxiety and Trait Anxiety. Revision of the earlier Form X has helped develop a better version of the STAI test for anxiety. The new Form Y is in common use as it offers a clearer and more precise definition of various factors of anxiety.

State vs Trait Anxiety 

Trait anxiety relates to the characteristic of individual behavior. One can continue to be in a constant state of feeling aroused, and there can be an underlying psychopathological cause for the trait anxiety. Family history and childhood experiences can influence trait anxiety. State anxiety is on a higher side if a person has a higher level of trait anxiety.

Following are some items in STAI:

  • I feel calm
  • I feel secure
  • I feel upset
  • I am tense
  • I feel nervous
  • I feel like a failure
  • I am tired and nervous 
  • I feel jittery

The questions for both tests are distinct because common questions for state and trait anxiety will deliver confusing results. The questions for testing state anxiety are ideal only to determine the level of state anxiety. Similarly, all items for trait anxiety focus on the detection of trait anxiety only.

Other Types of Psychometric Scales 

STAI tests are also available for detecting and measuring anxiety in young patients. The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory for Children (STAI-CH) helps psychologists understand if the child is vulnerable to emotional anxiety or anxious behavior.

The STAI-6 test comprises just six questions to measure and detect anxiety disorder in individuals. The short version of STAI can also deliver equally reliable and precise results as the full version of STAI.

State-Trait Anger Scale (STAS) is a similar psychometric scale for detecting the emotion of anger. Although it has an identical format as STAI, its purpose is to study how an individual is prone to anger. In this scale, S-Anger is likely to change over time, while T-Anger examines the probability of experiencing S-Anger.

State-Trait Anger Expression Inventory (STAXI) is a broader test than STAS. One can study the level of expression, control of anger, and experience of anger.

Treating Anxiety Disorders 

Failure to recognize and diagnose anxiety disorders can lead to chronic conditions that can affect the treatment of several medical conditions. Symptoms of trait anxiety can begin in childhood and or during the teenage years and can prolong through adulthood. Anxiety disorders can lead to frequent and intense feelings of fear and distress about day-to-day situations. These can also cause sudden panic attacks.

STAI offers a pencil-and-paper approach for an early diagnosis of anxiety, which is a complex mental condition. STAI test scores can conclude if the individual has mild, moderate, or severe anxiety. In short, State and Trait Anxiety inventory can detect the levels of anxiety and can also differentiate the form of anxiety line state or trait.Diagnosis of anxiety paves the way for early treatment. Consult a psychologist for a thorough assessment with prompt intervention. Visit unitedwecare.com to know more.

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Author : United We Care

Founded in 2020, United We Care (UWC) is providing mental health and wellness services at a global level, UWC utilizes its team of dedicated and focused professionals with expertise in mental healthcare, to solve 2 essential missing components in the market, sustained user engagement and program efficacy/outcomes.

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