Generalized Anxiety Disorder: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/10/2019

Symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder can vary in severity and may not be the same in all individuals suffering from anxiety. Common symptoms include

  • restlessness,
  • nervousness,
  • worry,
  • difficulty with concentration,
  • inability to let go of worries,
  • feeling "on edge,"
  • feeling as if the mind is "blank,"
  • sleep disturbances,
  • muscle tension, and
  • fatigue.

Anxiety symptoms can be associated with specific fears or phobias. There may be a tendency to avoid the object or situation that induces anxiety. Difficulty trusting others, startling easily, hypervigilance (excessive attention to staying safe), and nightmares are other possible symptoms. Severe symptoms are typical of those experienced in a panic attack and include palpitations, fast heart rate, chest pain, a sense of impending doom, shortness of breath, trembling, sweating palms, dizziness, feeling detached from oneself, nausea, and fear of losing control are all symptoms that may occur with a panic attack.

Generalized anxiety disorder often occurs together with other mental health conditions. Sometimes, symptoms of one disorder may overlap with those of another disorder, or the disorders may be co-morbid (both present at the same time). Examples of conditions with symptoms that may overlap with those of GAD include obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), social anxiety disorder and social phobia, and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Causes of generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)

The exact cause of generalized anxiety disorder is unknown, but it is likely that a combination of factors are involved in the cause. These could include both genetic (inherited) and environmental factors.

Other generalized anxiety disorder symptoms and signs

  • Avoidance of Situations That Induce Fear
  • Chest Pain
  • Choking Sensation
  • Difficulty Concentrating
  • Difficulty Trusting Others
  • Dizziness
  • Fast Pulse
  • Fatigue
  • Fear of Losing Control
  • Feeling As if the Mind Is “Blank”
  • Feeling Detached From Oneself
  • Feeling on Edge
  • Hypervigilance
  • Inability to Let Go of Worries
  • Irritability
  • Muscle Tension
  • Nausea
  • Nervousness
  • Nightmares
  • Numbness
  • Palpitations
  • Restlessness
  • Sense of Impending Doom
  • Shortness of Breath
  • Sleep Disturbances
  • Sweating Palms
  • Tingling
  • Trembling
  • Trouble Concentrating
  • Worry

Next Article


Panic attacks are repeated attacks of fear that can last for several minutes. See Answer

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Depression Newsletter

By clicking "Submit," I agree to the MedicineNet Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy. I also agree to receive emails from MedicineNet and I understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet subscriptions at any time.

United States. National Institute of Mental Health. "Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)." March 2016. <>.