Generalized Anxiety Disorder
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What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is characterized by six months or more of chronic, exaggerated worry and tension that is unfounded or much more severe than the normal anxiety most people experience. People with this disorder usually expect the worst; they worry excessively about money, health, family, or work, even when there are no signs of trouble. They are unable to relax and often suffer from insomnia and an inability to concentrate. Many people with GAD also have physical symptoms, such as fatigue, trembling, muscle tension, headaches, irritability, or hot flashes.

Approximately 6.8 million American adults develop GAD during the course of a given year. It most often strikes people in childhood or adolescence, but can begin in adulthood, too. It affects women more often than...

A risk factor is something that increases your likelihood of getting a disease or condition.

It is possible to develop generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) with or without the risk factors listed below. However, the more risk factors you have, the greater your likelihood of developing GAD. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

Risk factors for developing GAD include:

Gender

Women have twice the risk of developing GAD as men. Reasons for this include hormonal factors, cultural expectations (taking care of others’ needs at home, in the community, and at work), and more willingness to visit doctors and talk about their anxiety.

Family History

Anxiety disorders tend to run in families. This may be due to family...

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) can affect both adults and children. People with GAD often have psychological and physical symptoms. They may visit the doctor many times before they are diagnosed. They often ask the doctor to help them with the complaints related to GAD, such as headaches or trouble falling asleep. Reluctance to discuss emotional problems and worries may lead to a delay in the diagnosis.

Psychological symptoms of GAD include:

  • Excessive ongoing worrying, even when there are no signs of trouble
  • Inability to relax
  • Difficulty concentrating, mind going “blank”
  • Feeling tense, edgy, or jumpy
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Difficulty sleeping

Physical symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder include:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue *...

Diagnosis of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) can be difficult, since the distinction between normal anxiety and GAD is not always apparent. Diagnosis is based on a physical exam, psychological evaluation, and the criteria outlined in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders(DSM-IV). The symptoms of GAD must be present for at least six months and cause impairment in your ability to function.

Initial Assessment

After obtaining your medical history, you may be asked about worries, anxiety, “nerves,” stress, and other symptoms. Your doctor may ask whether your anxiety is acute (brief or intermittent) or chronic (persistent).

Acute anxiety lasts from hours to weeks and usually occurs in response to a particular...

Currently, there are no guidelines for reducing your risk of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). As scientists learn more about the condition, your doctor may have more information regarding steps for reducing your risk of GAD.

American Psychiatric Association

Address:

1000 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 1825
Arlington, VA 22209-3901

Phone:

1-703-907-7300

Internet Address:

http://www.psych.org/

Description of Services Provided:

This website provides information for the public and healthcare professionals on psychiatric disorders, as well as access to news releases, books, and journals.

Anxiety Disorders Association of America

Address:

8730 Georgia Ave., Suite 600
Silver Spring, MD 20910

Phone:

1-240-485-1001

Internet Address:

http://www.adaa.org/

Description of Services Provided:

This website provides information on anxiety disorders for the public and healthcare professionals, including help finding a therapist, self-help...

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