Health Encyclopedia


Health Encyclopedia Home

Generalized Anxiety DisorderTrastorno de Ansiedad Generalizada

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

What is generalized anxiety disorder?

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) causes its sufferers chronic and exaggerated worry and tension that seem to have no substantial cause. People with generalized anxiety disorder often worry excessively about health, money, family, or work, and continually anticipate disaster.

Although GAD may be accompanied by depression, substance abuse, or another anxiety disorder, impairment is usually mild, except in severe cases. Generally, people with this disorder do not:

  • Feel too restricted in social settings

  • Feel too restricted on the job

  • Avoid certain situations

What are the characteristics of generalized anxiety disorder?

People with this disorder usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants, but cannot rid themselves of these irrational concerns. The following are the most common symptoms of GAD. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • Trouble falling or staying asleep

  • Trembling

  • Twitching

  • Muscle tension

  • Headaches

  • Irritability

  • Sweating

  • Hot flashes

  • Lightheadedness and/or difficulty breathing

  • Nausea

  • Frequent urination

  • Feeling as though there is a lump in the throat

  • Fatigue

  • Lack of concentration

  • Being easily startled

  • Prone to irritable bowel syndrome

  • Inability to relax

The symptoms of GAD may resemble other psychiatric conditions. Always see your health care provider for a diagnosis.

Who is affected by GAD?

GAD begins gradually, usually in childhood or adolescence, but can begin in adulthood, too. It is more commonly seen in women and often occurs in relatives of those affected. Each year, about 3 percent of adults are affected by GAD, and approximately 6.8 million American adults have it.

How is generalized anxiety disorder diagnosed?

GAD is diagnosed by a health care provider or mental health professional, who can help determine whether the symptoms you are experiencing are related to an anxiety disorder or another medical condition.

Treatment for generalized anxiety disorder

Specific treatment for GAD will be determined by your health care provider based on:

  • Your age, overall health, and medical history

  • Extent of the disease

  • Your tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies

  • Expectations for the course of the disease

  • Your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • Medication

  • Psychological treatment (for instance, cognitive behavioral therapy)

  • Relaxation techniques

  • Biofeedback (to control muscle tension)

Related Items
Nutritional Supplement Advisor
  Kava Kava
Drug Reference
  Perphenazine; Amitriptyline
Daily News Feed
  Sunny Disposition May Shield You From Heart Problems
  Docs Should Counsel Heart Attack Survivors on Resuming Sex, Experts Say
  Childhood Tummy Aches May Be Tied to Adult Anxiety, Depression
  Anxiety Linked to a Need for More Personal Space
  Americans Enjoying More Healthy Years
  Racism Takes a Toll on Kids' Mental Health, Research Shows
  A Nurse Who Lends an Ear May Ease Anxiety in Moms of Preemies
  Smog, Stressed Mom May Raise Risk of Behavior Woes in Kids
  Too Much Online Health Info May Worsen Worriers' Anxiety
  Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients See Big Boost in Quality of Life
  Coverage of Boston Bombings Unnerved Many: Study
  Avid Cellphone Use by College Kids Tied to Anxiety, Lower Grades
  Anxiety Tied to Stroke Risk in Study
  Got Stage Fright? Get Excited
  Meditation May Reduce Mild Depression, Anxiety
  Media Focus on Obesity May Backfire for Some Women
  College Drinking May Aggravate PTSD Symptoms
  Could Ecstasy Help People With Anxiety, PTSD?
  Treatment Often Inadequate for Children With Anxiety Disorders, Study Finds
  Stroke's Aftermath May Be Tougher on Women
  Quitting Smoking Linked to Better Mental Health in Study
  Teens' Stress Levels Rival Those of Adults, Survey Finds
  Restless Sleep Linked to Widespread Pain in Older Adults
  Stigma of Mental Illness Remains Barrier to Treatment
  Meditation May Help Teens Cope With Cancer
  Video Glasses May Ease the Anxiety of Minor Surgery
  For Happy Marriage, His Personality May Be Key
  ICU Patients May Face Mental Health Issues After Discharge
  Doctors Really Do Raise Your Blood Pressure
  Study Outlines Emotional Impact of Domestic Violence on Kids
  Civilians in War Zones Also Suffer Mental Health Problems: Study
  Language Problems Common for Kids With ADHD, Study Finds
  False-Positive Mammograms Don't Deter Women From Future Screening: Study
  Religious Music a High Note for Older Christians
  Researchers Shed Light on Link Between Stress, Heart Trouble
  Adults With Autism at Risk for Many Health Problems: Study
  Foreclosures May Raise Neighbors' Blood Pressure
  Prescription Drug Use Continues to Climb in U.S.
  Do Stressed-Out Men Have Weaker Sperm?
  Anxiety May Affect Kids' Brains
  Milk, Egg Allergies Seem to Make Parents Most Anxious
  Some Teens May Face Emotional Problems After Concussion
  Stress, Depression May Boost Stroke Risk, Study Finds
Adult Diseases and Conditions
  Anxiety Disorders
Pediatric Diseases and Conditions
  Anxiety Disorders in Children
  Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Children and Adolescents
  Adolescent Mental Health Overview