Generalized Anxiety Disorder


Generalized Anxiety Disorder Definition

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is characterized by free-floating anxiety that seems to be a constant feature of daily existence. GAD can range from mild nervousness to a continuous feeling of dread. There may be somatic symptoms, muscle tension, muscle aches, or shaky feelings.

GAD is frequently related to another disorder. (E.g., Dysthymic, Major Depression, Panic Disorder, Social Phobia, Specific Phobia, or Substance Abuse). Irritable Bowel Syndrome and headaches may accompany GAD.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a real illness that requires attention from a qualified healthcare professional.

Given the stresses of modern life, it is normal to experience occasional anxiety. However, people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder suffer from persistent worry and tension that is much worse than the anxiety most people experience from time to time. The high level or chronic state of anxiety associated with GAD can make ordinary activities difficult or even impossible.

The main symptom of GAD is an exaggerated or unfounded state of worry and anxiety, often about such matters as health, money, family, or work. Although people with GAD may realize that their anxiety is excessive or unwarranted, they are unable to simply "snap out of it"-for them, the mere thought of getting through the day can provoke anxiety.

The persistent worry characteristic of GAD is hard to control, and interferes with daily life. Many GAD sufferers seem unable to relax, and may startle easily. In addition, GAD is often accompanied by physical symptoms, such as fatigue, headaches, and muscle tension.

GAD does not appear suddenly; it develops over time. To be diagnosed with GAD, you must have had anxiety more days than not for at least 6 months.


COMMON: Childhood to adolescence.

LESS COMMON: Reports they have had symptoms all their life.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Diagnostic Criteria


For at least six months the person experiences more days full of anxiety and apprehension then not.

There is difficult dealing with the anxiety and apprehension.

Have three or more of the following associated with the anxiety and apprehension:

  1. Restlessness or feeling on edge.
  2. Easily tired.
  3. Concentration problems.
  4. Irritability.
  5. Muscle tension.
  6. Problems falling or staying asleep.

Must be impairment in important areas of functioning. (E.g., work, social life, ...)

Related treatments

Generalized Anxiety Disorder Treatment (Pharmacotherapy)


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