Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Overview

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) involves having persistent and excessive amounts of anxiety and worry that happen more often than not about a variety of different topics. Additional symptoms such as restlessness, irritability, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, or sleep troubles will also be present.

The Details

Generalized Anxiety Disorder involves excessive levels of anxiety about a number of different issues or events. Over time there are more days where the anxiety is present than there are anxiety-free days. Additionally, a person with GAD will find it difficult to control it or stop worrying.


Adults will typically worry about things related to everyday life such as job responsibilities, their health, finances, friendships, or household chores and errands. Children on the other hand tend to worry more about the quality of activities they’ve done (e.g. homework, sports, or chores).


In addition to anxiety, a person with Generalized Anxiety Disorder will also experience three or more of the following symptoms:


  1. Restlessness or feeling on edge

  2. Being easily fatigued (frequent tiredness)

  3. Difficulty concentrating which may include your mind going blank

  4. Irritability

  5. Muscle tension that may include feeling achy, muscle soreness, or trembling or twitching

  6. Trouble involving sleep such as struggling to fall asleep or stay asleep, or waking up and not feeling well rested


It is not uncommon for people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder to experience additional physical symptoms such as sweating, nausea, headaches, or gastrointestinal discomfort.

Trends

Approximately 0.9% of adolescents and 2.9% of adults will be diagnosed every year. Children are rarely diagnosed with GAD. Most cases occur in those deemed “middle aged” with fewer diagnoses occurring in older adults.


Most people will feel that they’ve been anxious their whole lives. Usually the symptoms will come and go indefinitely. Although the anxiety may last throughout a person’s lifetime, the content or subject of a person’s anxiety will likely change. Children may be more concerned about their performance in school or natural disasters, adolescents may tend to worry about academic and athletic performance or relationships, adults will worry most often about work performance, their own health and the health of those around them, and older adults may be most anxious about their health and safety.


Women are twice as likely as men to experience Generalized Anxiety Disorder. We should keep in mind however that this could, at least in part, be a reporting bias where men are less likely to admit having ongoing anxiety.


Individuals of European descent tend to experience GAD more frequently than those of Asian or African descent or Native Americans. People living in more developed nations around the world also on average have higher rates of GAD than people from less developed nations.

Summary

Generalized Anxiety Disorder involves excessive levels of anxiety about a number of different issues or events. Over time there are more days where the anxiety is present than there are anxiety-free days.


Additional symptoms such as restlessness, irritability, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, muscle tension, sleep troubles, sweating, nausea, headaches, or gastrointestinal discomfort may also be present.


Most people with Generalized Anxiety Disorder will experience anxiety throughout the course of their life, though the subject of their worry will change with age. This excessive worry can impact a person’s life in significant ways from impairing relationships, to calling out from work or school, to having an increase in physical symptoms.

Disclaimer

All information on this website has been professionally prepared, but also intentionally written in a manner that is not overly technical. The terms used here are usually, but not always the formal and proper terminology or diagnoses that would be used between professionals. Similarly, we made a decision to not provide the full and exhaustive diagnostic criteria here. This is done so as to be informative and more easily understood by people who are not in the field of mental health. At the same time all reasonable efforts are taken to assure that the information presented here is as accurate as possible. We also provide a list of common definitions and abbreviations that you may find useful.

While clinical descriptions are not intended to be overly technical, they do attempt to be accurate and consistent with the DSM standards. Any changes made are superficial and done so for the sake of ease of comprehension.

 

It’s important to point out that the information provided on this website is not designed to replace a proper clinical assessment performed by a qualified professional. The descriptions on this website are not intended, nor should they be used to self-diagnose or to diagnose those around you.

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