Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

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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. Besides generalized anxiety disorder, other anxiety disorders include separation anxiety disorder in children, social anxiety disorder, selective mutism, panic disorder, and agoraphobia.
  • While obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) used to be classified as an anxiety disorder, it is now grouped with other compulsive disorders. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been reclassified such that it is considered a trauma-related disorder instead of an anxiety disorder.
  • 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 specific 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 the 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 and decrease anxiety.
  • GAD usually requires treatment for it to resolve.
  • There are many support groups for people who suffer from generalized anxiety disorder.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 6/5/2014

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Anxiety is a feeling of apprehension and fear characterized by physical symptoms such as palpitations, sweating, irritability, and feelings of stress. Anxiety disorders are serious medical illnesses that affect approximately 19 million American adults. In fact, anxiety disorders as a group are the most common mental illness in America.