Generalized Anxiety Disorder (Ohio State University)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) has been referred to as "the 'basic' anxiety disorder" by some researchers (Barlow, 1988; Rapee, 1991). As noted on the Information page, worry and anxiety are innate and protective mechanisms. GAD, however, is much more than just everyday anxiety and worry--it is characterized by chronic and exaggerated worry that is not a reaction to the environment and interferes with functioning.

Individuals who suffer from GAD typically describe themselves as "worriers" who worry about "everything, all the time" although some individuals with GAD simply worry about one or two concerns. Common worries are health, money, family or work although in some individuals the actual source of worry is difficult to pinpoint. The disorder is referred to as "generalized" anxiety disorder because of the pervasiveness and lack of a specific target of concern. Although individuals with Generalized Anxiety Disorder may not always identify the worries as "excessive," they report subjective distress due to constant worry, have difficulty controlling the worry, or experience related impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

The National Institute of Mental Health describes the symptoms of GAD in the following manner:
People with GAD can't seem to shake their concerns, even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants. People with GAD also seem unable to relax. They often have trouble falling or staying asleep. Their worries are accompanied by physical symptoms, especially trembling, twitching, muscle tension, headaches, irritability, sweating or hot flashes. They may feel lightheaded or out of breath. They may feel nauseated or have to go to the bathroom frequently. Or they might feel as though they have a lump in the throat. Many individuals with GAD startle more easily than other people. They tend to feel tired, have trouble concentrating, and sometimes suffer depression, too (Anxiety Disorders: Decade of the Brain, NIMH).
Generalized Anxiety Disorder Quiz (Note: not for use in self-diagnosis)

Unlike many other anxiety disorders, GAD is not generally associated with restricted impairment in social situations or in occupational settings, and they do not characteristically avoid certain situations as a result of their disorder. However, in severe cases it can be incredibly debilitating and lead to impairment in even the most daily activities.

Do you have GAD?
Check here to find out more about the clinical signs and symptoms of a GAD diagnosis: Generalized Anxiety Disorder Quiz.