How is Generalized Anxiety Disorder Diagnosed?
Generalized anxiety disorder strikes about 3 percent of the population in the U.S. in any given year. The lifetime prevalence rate is nearly 1 in 10, with women experiencing it nearly twice as often as men. The age when generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) first strikes is around 30 years old, which is later for many other anxiety disorders.
How generalized anxiety presents itself — the symptoms a person has — tends to be stable over the course of a person’s life. The primary difference between those who are diagnosed with GAD when younger versus older is the focus of their worry. Younger adults will worry about school, sporting, or creative performance. Older adults worry more about their family, work, and their physical health.
If you suspect you have generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), it’s important to get diagnosed by a mental health professional — such as a psychologist or psychiatrist — or a qualified medical professional. GAD can sometimes be difficult to diagnose, or may be mistaken for another disorder. It lacks dramatic and obvious symptoms, such as unprovoked panic attacks, that characterize some other anxiety disorders.
Part of the problem with diagnosing GAD is, that by definition, it is generalized. It is not specific, nor traceable to a particular traumatic incident, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Nor is it a response to a particular external stimulus, such as riding in an elevator, which is true of other phobias, says the Anxiety Disorders Association of America.
However, the physical symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder can be typical of many other disorders. Sometimes patients with GAD suffer from other anxiety disorders, such as panic disorder, substance abuse and depression. If this is the case, the mental health professional who sees you will have to decide which is the primary factor.
Regardless, quietly suffering constant worry and associated physical symptoms because of embarrassment or fear is unnecessary. GAD is extremely treatable through a medication, cognitive therapy and behavior therapy and can be diagnosed accurately by an experienced medical professional.
Hauser, J. (2016). How is Generalized Anxiety Disorder Diagnosed?. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 29, 2017, from https://psychcentral.com/lib/how-is-generalized-anxiety-disorder-diagnosed/