Generalized Anxiety Disorder. What is Generalized Anxiety Disorder?
General Anxiety Disorder is a state of continuous apprehension and anticipation of something horrible, characterized by excessive anxiety and unrealistic worry. It often affects social and occupational functioning and might have disruptive influence on the patients' families. The impact on the patients' perception of his/her emotional and physical well-being is great.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is one of the many anxiety disorders. According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders fourth edition (DSM-IV; APA, 1994), GAD is characterized by:
Excessive anxiety and worry (apprehensive expectations), occurring more days than not for at least 6 months, about a number of events or activities (such as work or school performance).
The person finds it difficult to control the worry.
The anxiety and worry are associated with three (or more) of the following six symptoms (with at least some symptoms present for more days than not for the past 6 months):
restlessness or feeling keyed up or on edge
being easily fatigued
difficulty concentrating or mind going blank
sleep disturbance (difficulty falling or staying asleep, or restless unsatisfying sleep)
The anxiety, worry, or physical symptoms cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
In order to be diagnosed with GAD, the symptoms must not be due to fear of having a panic attack (as in Panic Disorder), of being embarrassed in public (as in Social Phobia), being contaminated (as in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder), being away from home or relatives (as in Separation Anxiety Disorder), or gaining weight (as in Anorexia Nervosa). The disturbance must not be due to the direct physiological effects of a substance (drugs) or a general medical condition (e.g., hyperthyroidism).