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Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

 

Generalized anxiety disorder is defined by a protracted (6 month duration or less) period of anxiety and worry, accompanied by multiple associated symptoms that include muscle tension, easy fatigability, poor concentration, insomnia, and irritability. In youth, the condition is known as overanxious disorder of childhood. In DSM-IV (the diagnostic manual used by psychologists and psychiatrists), an essential feature of generalized anxiety disorder is that the anxiety and worry cannot be attributable to the more focal distress of panic disorder, social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or other conditions. Rather, as implied by the name, the excessive worries often pertain to many areas, including work, relationships, finances, the well-being of one’s family, potential misfortunes, and impending deadlines. Physical anxiety symptoms are common, as are periodic panic attacks.

Generalized anxiety disorder occurs more often in women, with a gender ratio of about 2 women to 1 man. The 1-year population prevalence is about 3 percent. Approximately 50 percent of cases begin in childhood or adolescence. The disorder typically runs a fluctuating course, with periods of increased symptoms usually associated with life stress or impending difficulties. Rates of other mood and anxiety disorders typically are greater among first-degree relatives of people with generalized anxiety disorder.

 

 

An excerpt from Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.


 

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