Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)?

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is a common and chronic disorder characterized by pervasive and excessive worry and tension. Those suffering from GAD have difficulty controlling and managing their anxious symptoms, which interfere with everyday functioning. GAD affects 6.8 million Americans, and is more common among women than men.

Signs and Symptoms of GAD

  • Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge
  • Difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
  • Easily fatigued
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
  • Sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless unsatisfying sleep)
  • Physical symptoms, such as muscle tension, trembling, palpitations, and sweating

Causes of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

The exact cause of GAD is unknown; however, GAD is thought to involve some combination of environmental, psychological and biological factors.

Complications of GAD

The signs and symptoms of GAD can interfere with daily life and might include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Avoiding activities or situations to reduce worry
  • Physical ill health
  • Excessive alcohol or drug use
  • Difficulties functioning in social situations

Diagnosing GAD

The diagnosis of GAD is made when an individual experiences at least six of the symptoms above on more days than not for at least six months. The diagnosis is made only after other conditions such as depression have been ruled out.

Treatment of GAD

GAD can be effectively treated with Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), medication, or a combination of both. CBT is the treatment of choice for GAD, and teaches techniques for managing anxious thoughts, relaxation, problem-solving, and other skills. Medications, such as antidepressants, can also be helpful in reducing the symptoms of GAD.