Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder

By Michael Demitri, M.D.

There are many common symptoms and signs of generalized anxiety disorder. Generalized anxiety disorder is one of the most commonly diagnosed anxiety disorder. It is characterized by a general anxiety or worry about life, with no specific focus.

The first sign of generalized anxiety disorder is chronic, irrational worry that can’t be turned off. This can focus on a variety of topics from health to money to job responsibilities. The worry, while ever present, can peak to the point that it prevents functioning.

Worries can be accompanied by physical symptoms that include trembling, twitching, muscle tension, headaches, sweating or hot flashes. The person might feel lightheaded, out of breath, nauseated or have to go to the bathroom a lot. Some people might feel they have lumps in their throats. Others startle more easily.

GAD comes on gradually and often hits people in childhood or adolescence but can begin in adulthood. According to the Diagnostics Statistics Manual IV, this excessive anxiety occurs more days than not and for at least six months. The person finds it difficult to control the worry.

In addition, there are certain physical conditions associated with GAD. At least three of the following symptoms need to be present for six months:

  • feeling keyed up, restless or on edge
  • being easily fatigued
  • having difficulty concentrating, or having oneÆs mind go blank
  • experiencing irritability
  • experiencing muscle tension
  • having sleep disturbances (difficulty falling or staying asleep; or having restless, unsatisfying sleep)

In addition, the focus of the anxiety and worry is not directed to worrying about a particular occurrence, such as having a panic attack, as in panic disorder or being embarrassed in public as in social phobia or being contaminated as in obsessive-compulsive disorder.

The anxiety, worry and physical symptoms cause significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning. It’s also important to rule out that the anxiety is not due to drugs, prescription medication, alcohol or another medical condition, such as hyperthyroidism.

 

APA Reference
Demitri, M. (2006). Symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/symptoms-of-generalized-anxiety-disorder/00071
Scientifically Reviewed
    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 30 Jan 2013
    Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.

 

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