Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Medical Author:
Medical Editor:

Generalized anxiety disorder facts

  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a mood disorder that is characterized by multiple and/or nonspecific worries that interfere with the person's life in some way.
  • The most common anxiety disorders are specific phobias. Other anxiety disorders include social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
  • GAD is quite common, affecting millions of people.
  • While there is no single cause of GAD, there are many factors that increase the risk of developing this disorder.
  • Signs and symptoms of anxiety can include those that are emotional or behavioral and ways of thinking that are responses to feeling as if one is in danger.
  • The similarities and differences in symptoms of anxiety in adults compared to children and adolescents depend on the diagnosis.
  • There seem to be gender differences in the expression of anxiety.
  • If a medical or mental health professional suspects that you have GAD, you will likely undergo an extensive medical interview and physical examination.
  • Treatment of GAD usually involves some combination of lifestyle changes, psychotherapy, and/or medication.
  • As anything that is ingested carries risk of side effects, it is important for the anxiety disorder sufferer to work closely with the prescribing doctor to decide whether treatment with medications is an appropriate intervention, and if so, which medication should be administered.
  • There are many possible complications associated with anxiety.
  • Various lifestyle choices and family interventions can help prevent anxiety.
  • GAD usually requires treatment for it to resolve.
  • There are many support groups for people who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder.

Patient Comments

Viewers share their comments

Anxiety - Effective Treatments Question: What kinds of treatments have been effective for your anxiety?
Anxiety - Attack Experience Question: Has your anxiety disrupted your quality of life?
Anxiety - Symptoms Question: What symptoms do you experience with your anxiety?
Learn about treatments for anxiety.

Anxiety Treatment

How Is GAD Treated?

If no physical illness is found, you may be referred to a psychiatrist or psychologist, mental health professionals who are specially trained to diagnose and treat mental illnesses like GAD. Treatment for GAD most often includes a combination of medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy.

  • Medication: Drugs are available to treat GAD and may be especially helpful for people whose anxiety is interfering with daily functioning. The medications most often used to treat GAD in the short-term are from a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. These medications are sometimes referred to as "tranquilizers," because they leave you feeling calm and relaxed. They work by decreasing the physical symptoms of GAD, such as muscle tension and restlessness. Common benzodiazepines include Xanax, Librium, Valiumand Ativan. Antidepressants, such as Paxil, Effexor, Prozac, Lexapro, and Zoloft, are also being used to treat GAD. These antidepressants may take a few weeks to start working but they're more appropriate for long-term treatment of GAD.

STAY INFORMED

Get the Latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!